National Press Club

Women stuck in mid-life change can reinvent themselves, Marlo Thomas says at Book Rap

May 3, 2014 | By Jan King |

Marlo Thomas speaks at a National Press Club Book Rap

Marlo Thomas speaks at a National Press Club Book Rap

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Women who are forced to “reinvent” themselves because they are stuck in dead-end jobs, laid off or suddenly divorced don’t need to stop their dreams of living fulfilling lives, television icon and author Marlo Thomas told a National Press Club Book Rap May 2.

Thomas, a multiple award-winning actress best known for starring in the 1966-71 TV sitcom “That Girl,” appeared at the Club to discuss her latest book, “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over,” which details inspirational stories of women in their 40s who managed to start new careers using nothing but their inborn talent.

Charming her audience with candor, wit and intelligence, Thomas stressed that women who face mid-life change must realize that they have to rescue themselves and abandon the “Cinderella myth.”

But, she warned, there always is risk involved in going for your dream. “Dream big, work small,” she advised. She cautioned women not to start at the top of the mountain, but to take small steps instead.

In conversation with moderator Larry Lipman, a member of the Club’s Book and Author Committee, Thomas pointed out that woman are “born networkers” who reach out to one another in good times as well as in times of pain.

She also said that the biggest obstacle to success is fear. “Change is scary,” she observed.

Thus, she said, women need tools – which she said her book provides with its stories of tools women used to reach their goals of launching successful businesses. In researching her book, Thomas interviewed women in all walks of life throughout the country.

Thomas also talked about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which she said her father, the late comedian Danny Thomas, founded because he grew up very poor in a large family that could not afford medical care. His vision, she said, was to start a hospital in which no child would be refused and in which no family would have to pay for treatment. Last year, Thomas said, the hospital raised $98 million from corporate sponsors.

Thomas is the author of six best-selling books, including the timeless “You and Me” and “Free to Be.” As an actress she has won four Emmys, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and the Peabody Award. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.