What You Don't Know About Dr. Phil

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  • Phil McGraw, the superstar psychologist, turns 60 today. His shows are notable for their no-nonsense approach to guests’ personal problems, and millions respond to his straightforward advice. In fact, Oprah Winfrey was so enamored of Dr. Phil’s principles that she made him a star. That story is well known, but here are a few things you may not know about the doctor.

    An Early Lesson In Bouncing Back

    He had a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa, where he played middle linebacker. In November of 1968, his team lost to the University of Houston by a score of 100-6. It was one of the most extraordinary defeats in the history of college football. Getting out of a bad situation as soon as possible, McGraw quickly transferred to another school.
  • The Mind-Body Connection For his doctoral thesis in clinical psychology, Dr. Phil wrote about rheumatoid arthritis and psychology.
  • He Married An Ex-Cheerleader When Dr. Phil was 20, he married Debbie Higgins McCall, a former cheerleader and homecoming queen. The marriage lasted for three years, and McCall later said McGraw told her to lift weights to improve her bustline. But his second marriage, in 1976, is still going strong.
  • He Gives Oprah Full Credit For His Success McGraw met Oprah Winfrey in 1995, while he was on her defense team in a lawsuit brought against her by Texas ranchers. Several years later, in 2002, her production company created his show. Earlier this year, he told an interviewer, “People say, ‘Wasn’t Oprah a big factor in launching “Dr. Phil”?’ She wasn’t a big factor, she was the factor.” Now, his show appears on Winfrey’s network, OWN.
  • He's Much Better When He Sticks To His Day Job In 2003, Dr. Phil began selling diet products including shakes and energy bars bearing the name “Shape It Up, Woo, Woo!” Unfortunately, some of his customers weren’t as enthusiastic. After a class-action lawsuit disputing the claims McGraw made for the products, he reached a $10 million settlement with them.
  • He's Given Up His Psychologist's License Dr. Phil officially retired as a psychologist in 2006. Two years later he said on the Today Show that he was no longer practicing psychology on the show.(He told another interviewer, “I’m not the Hush Puppies, pipe and ‘Let’s talk about your mother’ psychologist.”) Instead, he seems more like the tough-but-fair high school sports coach, encouraging, scolding and motivating.
  • He's Known For His Folksy Quotes Along with common-sense sayings like “Failure is no accident,” Dr. Phil, like fellow Texan George Bush, draws on his background to create a down-home image. Sample nugget of Dr. Phil's wisdom: “You don’t need a rope to pinch a stranger’s butt.” We don’t know what it means, but we like how it sounds.
  • His Sons Have A "Playboy" Connection In 2006, Dr Phil’s son Jay married "Playboy" model Erica Dahm, and the other McGraw son Jordan has written a song with Crystal Harris (at right in red dress), the woman who left "Playboy" founder Hugh Hefner at the altar.
  • He's Not Slowing Down Even though he’s suffered a few missteps (remember the unsuccessful Britney Spears “intervention” a few years back?), Dr.Phil has a solid-gold publishing career, selling 24 million books worldwide. He's also lucrative syndication deal that’s going to pay him $15 million a year through the 2013-2014 season.