If you've ever seen a clip of Bette Midler singing her signature "You Got to Have Friends," the first thing you'll notice (aside from her talent and energy, of course) is the great big smile on her face. That's because, like all of us, Bette celebrates the joy and love of friendship. And I should know -- she's my friend.
Whether they're childhood friends, neighborhood friends, family friends, girlfriends, boyfriends (or even boyfriends who eventually became boy friends, if you know what I mean), life wouldn't be half as much fun -- or as meaningful -- without the company of those who know what makes us tick (and vice versa). In my case, I'm always counting my blessings for the cherished pals who've accompanied me along my journey -- and it's a cast of characters that continues to grow every year.
Like a lot of people, I've made tons of friends through my work, which has become sort of a recurring theme for me. Starting with "Free to Be...You and Me," I've given many of my projects the byline, "By Marlo Thomas and Friends" -- and that's not just some cliché. I truly feel that way. What else would you call someone who shares your passion, loves laughter, and works side by side with you, 24/7, to create something special and lasting? For me, "Friend" sums it up perfectly.
So my colleagues here at the website asked me to put together a little scrapbook of some of my friends -- from childhood through college to today. You may notice that I use the term "BFF" an awful lot, but that wasn't because I was afraid to pick a favorite. The fact is, they're all my favorites.
Kathy Normanly and Colleen Mitchell were two of my best Theta pals at USC. Here we are on the pledge porch of our sorority house our first semester in college. Both of them are now married -- Colleen has six kids and Kathy has seven!
Here I am with my college beau, Jimmy Pugh. He was a 6’5” basketball player. Notice how he has to bend over to get into the frame with me?
One of my oldest and best friends in the world, Barry (Diller), at a party at my house on Angelo Drive in Beverly Hills, many years ago. Our connection dates back to our childhood neighborhood.
I met my pal Alan (Alda) on the set of “Jenny,” and we’ve been great friends ever since. He shares my love of just about everything -- especially laughter.
Here I am with my BFF Gloria (Steinem) on one of our birthdays. I can’t remember which one because we celebrate most of them together!
Here’s another BFF -- and my true “secret keeper” -- Elaine (May). We’re always goofing around together, even when a photographer tried to get a publicity shot of us for our movie “In the Spirit.”
Yet another BFF, Kathie Berlin, taking a break with me at a holiday party that Phil and I threw in Connecticut. Kathie defines the word “loyal.”
My oldest best friends -- my sister Terre and my brother Tony.
Sometimes you pick up another brother in your life, and for me, that’s my dear and brilliant friend Julian (Schlossberg).
Great femme buddies Susan O’Connell and Camille Byrne. Camille’s and my friendship dates back to our childhood, when we used to ride our bikes together through Beverly Hills!
Three great gal pals -- Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Carole Hart, Merryn Schlossberg -- on a cold winter night in Connecticut. Who better than friends to keep you warm?
My St. Jude soul sisters Judy Habib and Joyce Aboussie. Their fathers worked alongside my dad in building St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We’re family!
I spend a lot of time with my colleagues from this website, and they have all become cherished friends. Here I am with three of them, after-hours last Christmas season: (from left) Bruce Kluger, Vicky Kuperman and my niece Kate.
Billy Persky and I first met when he wrote and directed “That Girl.” We now live walking distance from each other, and grab dinner whenever we can. And just like in the old days, he constantly makes me laugh.
I can’t leave out my very best friend -- my husband Phil. Here we are on our first date at Disney World, but even so, it’s never been a Mickey Mouse romance!
Follow Marlo Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarloThomas