Marlo Thomas Throws a 50th-Birthday Boat Party for Her First Mate, Phil Donahue

updated 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

He's just my Phil, with 20 pounds of hair/ He'd have to get a trim before you'd notice him/ An Irish hunk, so full of spunk/ A Rock of Gibraltar inside of an altar boy/ I gladly share with women everywhere their daily thrill/ 'Cause later when he comes home to me/ I know he's just my Phil.

So sang Mario Thomas to agog hubbie Phil Donahue and 150 guests at his—surprise!—50th-birthday party. The unsuspecting but unsinkable Donahue showed up in a beige suit and loafers for the black-tie festivities, held aboard a chartered 165-foot yacht cruising New York's frigid Hudson River. Donning a sailor's jacket, Phil table-hopped nonstop. "If you take away Phil's microphone," explains Mario, "you have to give him a boat captain's coat. He likes running the ship."

Guests dined on salmon, veal and tortellini, danced to the Denny La Rue band and listened as Phil harmonized with his favorite barbershop quartet, Grandma's Boys from Chicago. All agreed the bash was a smash, including the birthday guy. Says Marlo: "He's a pretty good sport about turning 50."

From Our Partners