dr phil divorce?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
A lot of people are coming here because I mention Dr. Phil’s divorce in a previous post, so I guess I’ll do them a favor and tell them everything I know that might be relevant to the speculation.
I don’t know if Dr. Phil and Robin are getting a divorce but I would not be surprised.
My book about Dr. Phil was released in 2004, so a lot has happened since then, but the best prophet of the future is the past. Dr. Phil has alienated a whole lot of people who once were close to him in his life. (Have you heard Oprah mention him recently? Not in years, although Harpo still produces the show.)
Here’s a fun story: When the Dr. Phil Show debuted, after he’d already reached fame on Oprah, my co-author, Lisa Gutierrez, a reporter with the Kansas City Star, wrote a little item about it. A reader called and said, “Did you know he has local ties?” In fact, he’d graduated high school there. So Lisa found a copy of the yearbook from his graduating class and in that, found a photo of Phil dancing at the senior prom with a blonde girl. Like the good reporter she is, Lisa found that girl (by that time a woman, of course) and called her up.
The woman said, “I knew someone would find me someday.”
This was Debbie McCall, Dr. Phil’s first wife, whom he never, ever, ever mentioned—on Oprah, on Larry King, on his own show. Maybe he was closed-mouthed because, she said, he was a shit to her—bringing other women to their apartment, for example.
Their marriage was annulled in 1973. Lisa and I ran out of time on our book deadline before we could find out how they managed an annulment rather than divorce. And unfortunately, after that first interview, Debbie would no longer speak with us, insisting that she would be writing her own book.
In the course of researching the book, I heard one story after another of Dr. Phil using and abusing people. I started the book thinking he was pretty cool and finished thinking otherwise. Very otherwise.
Phil and Robin met a week after she’d graduated high school—Phil may still have been married at that point although they were probably separated. But Robin was young, young, young and Phil had already been married and separated, started a health club business, fleeced a bunch of people out of money and filed for bankruptcy. He’d been around, she was a kid.
Dr. Phil is an ego with legs and it’s possible that as her star has risen, Robin started losing interest in being his little woman. Is she still there in the audience to walk out hand in hand with him at the end of every show? What a beating that must be.
Maybe Robin’s popularity started bothering Phil.
Maybe Phil looks at son Jay’s Playboy model wife and thinks maybe he, too, could find a young hottie instead of his age-appropriate wife.
Maybe they’ve just gone Hollywood and part of the rite of initiation is a divorce.
Maybe none of the above and they just grew apart, as so often happens.
Or maybe, of course, it’s an unfounded rumor and they’re still a happy couple.
But if there’s one Life Lesson Dr. Phil must have learned by now, it's that when you treat people poorly, they might later take pleasure in your pain.
(Click here to read my mediabistro essay about writing The Making of Dr. Phil.)
Labels: dr. phil
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