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Phil McGraw
McGraw in 2013
Phillip Calvin McGraw

(1950-09-01) September 1, 1950 (age 73)
  • Debbie Higgins McCall
    (m. 1970; annulled 1973)
  • Robin Jameson
    (m. 1976)
Children 2, including Jay
Relatives Erica Dahm (daughter-in-law)

Phillip Calvin McGraw (born September 1, 1950), known professionally as Dr. Phil, is an American television personality and author, best known for hosting the talk show Dr. Phil. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, though he ceased renewing his license to practice psychology in 2006.

McGraw rose to fame with appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the late 1990s. Oprah Winfrey then helped McGraw launch his own program, Dr. Phil, in September 2002. The show is formatted as an advice show.

Early life and education

McGraw was born in Vinita, Oklahoma, on September 1, 1950, the son of Joseph J. McGraw Jr. and his wife, Anne Geraldine "Jerry" (née Stevens). He grew up with two older sisters, Deana and Donna, and younger sister Brenda in the oilfields of North Texas where his father was an equipment supplier. At age 13, he worked at an A&W Root Beer stand and a local chain called Pizza Planet in Oklahoma City.

McGraw moved to Kansas with his father as his father pursued his lifelong goal of becoming a psychologist. There he attended Shawnee Mission North High School in Overland Park, Kansas. He played linebacker on the high school football team and in 1968 earned a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa, where he played middle linebacker under coach Glenn Dobbs. He later transferred to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

McGraw graduated in 1975 from Midwestern State University with a B.A. in psychology. He went on to earn an M.A. in experimental psychology in 1976, and a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology in 1979 at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), where his dissertation was titled "Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Psychological Intervention." He did a year of post-doctoral training in forensic psychology at the Wilmington Institute. McGraw's PhD advisor was Frank Lawlis, who later became the primary contributing psychologist for the Dr. Phil television show.

Early career

After obtaining his doctorate, McGraw rejoined his father in Wichita Falls, Texas, where the elder McGraw had established his private psychology practice.

In 1985, McGraw and his father partnered with Thelma Box, a Texas businesswoman, in presenting "Pathways" self-help seminars. Six years after joining Box, in October 1991 McGraw sold his share in the company for $325,000.

In 1990, McGraw co-founded Courtroom Sciences, Inc. (CSI) with lawyer Gary Dobbs. CSI is a trial consulting firm which provides services in US litigation psychology, jury selection, trial consulting, witness training, and depositions. CSI has advised top trial lawyers, every major airline in the world, and dozens of Fortune 500 companies. McGraw is no longer an officer or director of the company. The TV show Bull is based on McGraw's experience as a trial consultant, and he is credited as one of the creators of the series. McGraw began working with Oprah Winfrey through CSI.

Television career

Phil 1
McGraw photographed for the cover of Newsweek magazine by Jerry Avenaim

Oprah Winfrey and the Dr. Phil show

In 1995, Oprah Winfrey hired McGraw's legal consulting firm CSI to prepare her for the Amarillo Texas beef trial. Winfrey was so impressed with McGraw that she thanked him for her victory in that case, which ended in 1998. Soon after, she invited him to appear on her show. His appearance proved so successful that he began appearing weekly as a relationship and life strategy expert on Tuesdays, starting in April 1998.

In September 2002, McGraw formed Peteski Productions and launched his own syndicated daily television show, Dr. Phil, produced by Winfrey's Harpo Studios. Dr. Phil is an advice show in which McGraw tackles a different topic each show, offering advice to his guests. He signed a five-year extension of his syndication deal with his show's distributors, King World Productions, Inc. The deal was to pay McGraw $15 million per year and keep the show in production through the 2013–2014 television season.

In 2007, McGraw was named 30th on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list. On May 21, 2007, Dr. Phil was ranked fourth by Nielsen Media Research, with 6.69 million viewers. On May 12, 2008, almost one year later, the show was ranked sixth with 5.69 million viewers. At that time, the only talk show more popular than Dr. Phil was The Oprah Winfrey Show. On December 11, 2018, Dr. Phil was the top syndicated show with a "2.9 live-plus-same-day" national Nielsen rating, ranking first among talk shows for the 117th consecutive week. His ranking improved, and by 2020, he was in the 22nd spot on the aforementioned Forbes list with earnings of $65.5 million.

Spin-off shows

In 2005, Phil and Jay McGraw, Phil's eldest son, formed Stage 29 Productions, and a week later, announced a new show called Moochers (similar to ABC's Kicked Out). Ultimately, the show was not produced.

In 2006, the Dr. Phil House (similar to CBS's Big Brother) began airing as part of the Dr. Phil television show. Following a protest by neighbors, the house in Los Angeles was shut down, and production resumed on a sound stage on a studio back lot.

Stage 29 launched Decision House in September 2007. It was executive produced by Jay McGraw, and featured Judge Lynn Toler (from Divorce Court) on MyNetworkTV. The show produced 13 episodes during its only season, which ran until May 24, 2008.

Late in 2007, McGraw began promoting the Dr. Phil Show spinoff series The Doctors. The show, which first aired in September 2008 and ended in August 2022, was hosted by television personality and ER physician Travis Stork; Jay was executive producer of the show. On September 8, 2008, The Doctors debuted and, as of November 10, had a 2.0 rating. The show won a Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Talk Show/Informative in 2010, and was nominated eight times between 2009 and 2013.

Daily Mail TV, executive produced by Phil and Jay McGraw, along with producers Martin Clarke, Carla Pennington, and Jeffrey Wilson, won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding News Program in 2019.

In August 2021, the reality television series House Calls with Dr. Phil aired on CBS. In the series, McGraw visits various families at home and offers advice on their home life. The series ended after six episodes in September 2021.

Merit Street

On April 2, 2024, McGraw launched his own television network, Merit Street, alongside an accompanying streaming service Merit+. Its flagship program is Dr. Phil Primetime, alongside programming from Nancy Grace and Steve Harvey.

Doctor on Demand

In 2012, McGraw founded the telehealth company Doctor On Demand, an online platform that allows individuals to schedule virtual appointments with a network of physicians and therapists. The company launched a web and mobile service in 2014. The platform focuses on services related to preventative care, medication management, wellness, and mental health. According to ABC News, the company had a network of around 11,000 board-certified physicians as of 2015. In March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company expanded its bandwidth and increased its pool of therapists to deal with the increasing volume of patients seeking virtual consultations and care.

Approach to psychology

McGraw in May 2013

McGraw's advice and methods have drawn criticism from fellow psychotherapists and non-experts. McGraw's critics regard advice given by him to be, at best, simplistic and, at worst, ineffective or harmful. The National Alliance on Mental Illness called McGraw's conduct in one episode of his television show "unethical" and "incredibly irresponsible". McGraw said in a 2001 Sun-Sentinel interview that he never liked traditional one-on-one counseling, and that "I'm not the Hush-Puppies, pipe and 'Let's talk about your mother' kind of psychologist."

McGraw frequently advises individuals to seek professional help, particularly psychotherapy. A 2016 study at The Ohio State University found that viewers were more likely to seek professional mental health care for themselves and their children after seeing McGraw deal with similar issues on the Dr. Phil show. The study attributed this phenomenon to viewers' tendency to form a parasocial bond with McGraw through watching the show, and have increased belief in their ability to seek help.

Writing career

In 1999, McGraw published his first book, Life Strategies. In the following six years, McGraw published three additional relationship books, Relationship Rescue, Self Matters, and Family First. Since 2022, McGraw and physician John Whyte have co-written a series of columns for WebMD and USA Today. The former has also written op-eds for Sportico and The Hill.

Awards and recognition

McGraw was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2020, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. McGraw was invited to give the presidential address at the 2006 annual convention of the American Psychological Association, where he received the APA's Presidential Citation for "highlighting mental health issues" to "more Americans than any other living psychologist."

Personal life

McGraw with wife Robin in May 2013

McGraw married his first wife, Debbie Higgins McCall, in 1970, when he was 20 years old. According to her, McGraw was domineering and would not allow her to participate in the family business. She claimed that she was confined to domestic duties and instructed to begin lifting weights to improve her bustline. .....

While annulling the marriage in 1973, McGraw met and began dating Robin Jo Jameson, whom he married in 1976. The couple have two children together, Jay McGraw and Jordan McGraw.

McGraw is a private pilot, with an instrument rating, flying single-engine airplanes. He is a Christian. He launched a Dr. Phil Foundation charity in October 2003.


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Frasier Himself Episode: The Devil and Dr. Phil
2004 Sesame Street 2 episodes
2006 Scary Movie 4 Film; Cameo appearance
2006 The Simpsons Himself (voice) Episode: Treehouse of Horror XVII
2009 Madea Goes to Jail Himself Film; Cameo appearance
2009 Curb Your Enthusiasm Episode: Vehicular ...
2010 Hannah Montana Episode: I'll Always Remember You
2016 WWE Raw Episode: April 11, 2016
2017 A Crooked Somebody Film; Cameo appearance
2019 PewDiePie's Meme Review Episode: "Dr Phil hosts Meme Review"
2020 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Episode: "In The Hot Seat: Catherine O'Hara & Dr. Phil"
Sketchy Times with Lilly Singh Himself (cameo) First episode


Guest appearances

Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Cash Me Outside"

(with Bhad Bhabie, featured by DJ Suede the Remix God)

2017 72 30 79 Non-album single

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Phil McGraw para niños

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