Excerpt from The Right Words at The Right Time by Marlo Thomas, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Right Words at The Right Time

by Marlo Thomas

The Right Words at The Right Time
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2002, 400 pages
    Jan 2004, 416 pages

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  • Muhammad Ali
  • Christiane Amanpour
  • Stephen Ambrose
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Lance Armstrong
  • Candice Bergen
  • Jeff Bezos
  • David Boies
  • Tom Brokaw
  • Mel Brooks
  • Barbara Bush
  • Laura Bush
  • President Jimmy Carter
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Chuck Close
  • Kenneth Cole
  • Bill Cosby
  • Katie Couric
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Cameron Crowe
  • Billy Crystal
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Barry Diller
  • Dr. Peter Doherty
  • Phil Donahue
  • Michael Eisner
  • Daniel Ellsberg
  • Betty Ford
  • Diane von Furstenberg
  • Frank Gehry
  • Richard Gephardt
  • The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Rudolph Giuliani
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • William Goldman
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Matt Groening
  • Uta Hagen
  • Scott Hamilton
  • Mia Hamm
  • Dr. David Ho
  • Arianna Huffington
  • James Jeffords
  • Philip Johnson
  • Robert Johnson
  • Quincy Jones
  • Andrea Jung
  • David E. Kelley
  • Billie Jean King
  • Ted Koppel
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Ang Lee
  • John Leguizamo
  • Jay Leno
  • Maya Lin
  • David Mamet
  • Wilma Mankiller
  • Mary Matalin
  • Dave Matthews
  • John McCain
  • Paul McCartney
  • Dennis Miller
  • Toni Morrison
  • Ralph Nader
  • Willie Nelson
  • Paul Newman
  • Mike Nichols
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Conan O'Brien
  • Rosie O'Donnell
  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Al Pacino
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Sean Penn
  • Itzhak Perlman
  • Bob Pittman
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Vladimir Pozner
  • Anna Quindlen
  • Dr. Sally Ride
  • Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Dennis Rivera
  • Chris Rock
  • Ray Romano
  • Carlos Santana
  • Diane Sawyer
  • Martin Sheen
  • Dr. Ruth Simmons
  • Carly Simon
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Steven Spielberg
  • George Steinbrenner
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Martha Stewart
  • Amy Tan
  • Julie Taymor
  • Twyla Tharp
  • Ted Turner
  • Mike Wallace
  • Barbara Walters
  • Vera Wang
  • Wendy Wasserstein
  • Maxine Waters
  • Venus Williams
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Tom Wolfe
  • A Letter from the Dalai Lama


"Tell me a fact and I'll learn. Tell me a truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever."

-- Indian Proverb

When I was a child I loved to watch my father shave. I sat on the closed toilet seat and marveled at the sound of the razor gliding over his face, pushing aside the foamy soap like a shovel in the snow. I adored him, this grand figure who slapped lotion on his cheeks every morning, buttoned his clean white shirt and hugged me good-bye.

Once, my father made a movie with Margaret O'Brien and he often took me to the set. I would cue his lines as we drove to the MGM studios with the windows open and the heady mix of Old Spice and a Cuban cigar swirling about us as we carried on a kind of rehearsal in transit. On the set I played jacks with Margaret between takes, and when the bell rang, I would join the crew in their silence as the cameras rolled and the boom mike moved into position to record the dialogue I knew by heart.

I was in awe of my father and sinfully envious of Margaret O'Brien. I wore pigtails. I wanted freckles. I wanted to be Margaret O'Brien. Ten years later, at age seventeen, I got my chance.

I played the lead in Gigi in a summer stock production at the Laguna Playhouse south of Los Angeles. The excitement of finally being a real actress was painfully short-lived. All the interviews and all the reviews focused on my father. Would I be as good as my father? Was I as gifted, as funny? Would I be as popular? I was devastated.

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Excerpted from The Right Words at the Right Time by Thomas Marlo, Copyright © 2002. Reproduced with permissionof the publisher.

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