Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Dr. Phil

February 10, 2017 | Miles Brucker

Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Dr. Phil

We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we're capable of. – Dr. Phil.

Here are some interesting facts about daytime-TV legend Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil Facts

1. Big bucks.

In 2015, Forbes listed Dr. Phil’s earnings at $70 million for the previous 12 months, which made him the 15th highest earning celebrity in the entire world.

Dr. Phil McGraw appears in a conversation with writer Mitch Albom at the 12th Annual L.A. Times Festival of BooksCharley Gallay, Getty Images

2. Rise to fame.

McGraw first gained celebrity status with appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the late 1990s. Oprah first met Dr. Phil in 1996, when she was dealing with cattlemen who claimed she defamed the beef industry on her show. She hired Dr. Phil to assist and counsel her.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey arrives at the 77th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak TheaterFrank Micelotta, Getty Images

3. Born to be.

McGraw was born in Vinita, Oklahoma, the son of Anne Geraldine and Joseph J. McGraw, Jr. He grew up with three sisters in the oilfields of North Texas, where his father was an equipment supplier. During his childhood, his family moved so his father could pursue a lifelong goal of becoming a psychologist.

Dr. Phil wearing a brown shirt with a microphone on his head talking to the audience in JacksonvilleCraig ONeal, Flickr

4. Athletics.

In 1968, he was awarded a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa, where he played middle linebacker.

Dr Phil McGraw at the Paley Center for Media Fifth Annual Celebrity Golf ClassicJoe Seer, Shutterstock

5. “Dr.” Phil.

Dr. Phil is an actual doctor. He earned a PhD degree in clinical psychology in 1979 at the University of North Texas. McGraw was guided through the doctoral program by Frank Lawlis, who later became the primary contributing psychologist for the Dr. Phil television show.

University of North Texas Performing Arts CenterGreat Degree, Flickr

6. Borrowing lines.

In 1983, McGraw and his father joined Thelma Box, a successful Texas businesswoman who presented "Pathways" seminars: "experience-based training which allows individuals to achieve and create their own results.” Critics claim that many of the "phrases and the terminology" used by McGraw on the Oprah and Dr. Phil shows were coined by Box and presented by McGraw in this seminar. McGraw admits that some of the material from Life Strategies, his first best-seller, is taken from the Pathways seminar.

Dr. Phil McGraw seen running errands in NYC.Liam Goodner, Shutterstock

7. First step in the journey to riches.

Eight years after joining Thelma Box, McGraw signed an agreement for the sale of his Pathways seminar stock for $325,000 without notifying either his father or Box of the impending sale.

Dr. Phil McGraw appears at a signing of his wife Robin McGraw's new book Brad Barket, Getty Images

8. First controversy.

In 1988, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists determined that McGraw had hired a former patient for "part-time temporary employment" and cited "a possible failure to provide proper separation between termination of therapy and the initiation of employment.” The board issued a letter of reprimand and imposed administrative penalties. The board also investigated claims made by the patient of inappropriate contact initiated by McGraw, but the "Findings of Fact" document issued by the board at the end of its investigation includes no reference to any physical contact of any kind. The board closed its complaint file in June 1990.

Dr. Phil McGraw at the David Foster Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

9. Before Dr. Phil was TV’s #1 psychologist, he was a trial consultant.

In 1990, McGraw joined lawyer Gary Dobbs in co-founding Courtroom Sciences, Inc. (CSI), a trial consulting firm that led to McGraw’s relationship with Oprah Winfrey. Eventually, CSI became a profitable enterprise, advising Fortune 500 companies and injured plaintiffs in achieving settlements.

Oprah Winfrey addresses guests at the dedication programNewhouseSU, Flickr

10. No Longer a Psychologist.

After starting CSI, McGraw ceased the practice of psychology. He kept his license current and in good standing until he elected to retire it 15 years later in 2006. Appearing on the Today Show in January 2008, McGraw said that he has made it "very clear" that his current work does not involve the practice of psychology. The California Board of Psychology determined in 2002 that he did not require a license because his show involves "entertainment" rather than psychology.

TV personality Phil McGraw speaks onstage during the 50th Academy of Country Music AwardsEthan Miller, Getty Images

11. Best-selling author.

In 1999, McGraw published his first best-selling book, Life Strategies. In the next four years, McGraw published three additional best-selling relationship books.

Dr. Phillip McGraw, Executive Producer of Bull attends the 2016 CBS UpfrontJemal Countess, Getty Images

12. Weight loss woes.

In 2003, McGraw entered the weight loss business, selling shakes, energy bars, and supplements. These products carried the brand name "Shape It Up, Woo, Woo!" The supplements were met with swift criticism from various sources, accusing McGraw of lacking the expertise to recommend weight loss products. Facing a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Shape Up's claims, McGraw pulled his supplements off the market in March 2004.

Photo of the Federal Trade Commission Buildingfaungg's photos, Flickr

13. Weight loss lawsuits.

In October 2005, several people who used McGraw's products declared an intent to file a class action lawsuit against him, claiming that although the $120-per-month supplements did not stimulate weight loss. McGraw settled the suit in September 2006 for $10.5 million.

Dr. Phil McGraw at the Steve Harvey Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

14. An independent biography.

The Making of Dr. Phil wasn’t commissioned by Phil McGraw; it was created by two reporters, Sophia Dembling and Lisa Gutierrez. The book probes McGraw's history, with interviews of his childhood friends and former classmates. The book reports that McGraw allegedly used unethical business practices in a gym business early in his career and that he was allegedly abusive to his first wife. Understandably, the book received no promotional help from McGraw or his associates.

Dr. Phil McGraw and Robin McGraw at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.s_bukley, Shutterstock

15. Keeping the dollars flowing in!

In 2005, McGraw signed a five-year extension of his syndication deal with his show's distributors, King World Productions, Inc. The deal will pay McGraw $15 million a year and keep the show in production through the 2013–2014 television season.

Dr. Phil McGraw of Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

16. Nosey neighbours.

In 2006, the Dr. Phil House (a clone of CBS's Big Brother) aired 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.

Dr Phil McGraw & son Jordan McGraw at the world premiere of The Simpsons Movie.Featureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock

17. More legal woes.

McGraw was named a co-defendant, along with CBS Television, in a 2006 lawsuit filed in relation to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. The lawsuit was filed by Deepak Kalpoe and his brother Satish Kalpoe, who were two of the last people seen with Natalee.  They allege that show’s portrayal of them—using hidden-camera footage edited in an allegedly misleading way—constituted defamation.

Dr. Phil McGraw speaks on stage at the Children's Defense Fund's 15th Annual Beat the Odds AwardsFrazer Harrison, Getty Images

18. Drama with Britney.

In January 2008, McGraw visited pop star Britney Spears in her hospital room, attempting to get Spears to take part in an "intervention" on the Dr. Phil television show. The visit and Phil’s subsequent commentary drew criticism from mental health professionals. Spears' family spokeswoman Lou Taylor said, "This is another example of a trust being betrayed. Rather than helping the family’s situation, the celebrity psychologist caused additional damage.”

Britney Spears arrives at the 'blue carpet' launch of Pepsi's new TV commercial at the National Gallery in LondonBruno Vincent, Getty Images

19. Big, big bucks!

Dr. Phil’s estimated net worth is $400 million.

Dr. Phil McGraw at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyFeatureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock

20. More controversy.

On April 13, 2008, a producer for the Dr. Phil show secured $30,000 bail for the ringleader of a group of eight teenage girls who viciously beat another girl and videotaped the attack. Producers of the Dr. Phil show planned to tape a one-hour show devoted to the incident. However, when news broke that a Dr. Phil show producer had posted bail for the teen, the outcry caused the show to cancel their plans.

Dr. Phil in a dark blue suit facing the cameraRubyGoes, Flickr

21. Charity and kindness.

McGraw announced the formation of the Dr. Phil Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood obesity, on October 22, 2003. The Foundation also supports charitable organizations that help address the emotional, spiritual and monetary needs of many children and families.

Recording artists Chad Smith, Zachary Merrick, Mike Einziger and Jordan McGraw, and Dr. Phil McGraw attend the taping of the Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

22. An unsuccessful marriage.

McGraw married his first wife, an ex-cheerleader and homecoming queen named 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, which included lifting weights to improve her figure.

Photo of Dr. Phillip McGraw taken during the filming of an original pilot titled TwinsofSedona, Wikimedia Commons

23. A successful marriage.

During the process of annulling his marriage to Debbie in 1973, McGraw began dating Robin Jo Jameson. The couple had two children, Jay, born in 1979, and Jordan, born 1986.

Dr. Phil's family (L-R), son Jay McGraw, Erica Dahm, son Jordan McGraw, wife Robin McGraw, Dr. Phil arrive at the 43rd annual Academy Of Country Music AwardsCharley Gallay, Getty Images

24. Following daddy.

Jay McGraw (Phil’s eldest son) followed in his father's footsteps, publishing life strategies and weight loss books aimed at teenagers.

Jay McGraw attends the Fox Fall Season Launch EventVince Bucci, Getty Images

25. A spicy wedding.

Jay McGraw became engaged to Erica Dahm, one of the famous Playboy Playmate triplets. Dr. Phil was best man at his son's wedding.

Jay McGraw and wife Erica Dahm attend the Face Forward's 10th Annual Greg Doherty, Getty Images

26. Phil’s got wings.

Phil McGraw is a private pilot, with an instrument rating, flying single engine airplanes. He has also identified himself as a Christian.

Dr. Phil McGraw at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyFeatureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock

27. Bad dog!

Janet Harris, a regular Dr. Phil Show guest, alleges she got an infectious disease after Dr. Phil’s dog bit her. Harris claimed that instead of going to a hospital, Dr. Phil wanted to avoid publicity, so he procured antibiotics via a friend who was a nurse. Harris said that the improper treatment led to her infection, which caused tremors in her right hand and permanent hearing loss. Dr. Phil’s attorneys are asking the lawsuit be dismissed because Harris had signed an arbitration agreement and she has no case.

Yolanda Foster, Dr Phil McGraw, Natalie Cole at the David Foster Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

28. Sometimes it’s hard to help.

In 2011, a homeless man with a golden voice named Williams became an overnight media sensation and was offered on several reputable talk shows. Shortly after, it was revealed the one-time addict was still drinking. Dr. Phil brought Williams onto his show to stage an intervention-style episode. After the episode, Williams got into a fight with his daughter at the Renaissance Hotel, and police were called. No charges were filed. Dr. Phil then paid for Williams to stay at a fancy rehab facility, but despite Phil’s best efforts, he Williams out of rehab 12 days later.

Dr. Phil McGraw at the Steve Harvey Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

29. A blissful marriage.

Dr. Phil's wife Robin McGraw has admitted that friends find it strange that she never argues with her husband. The mother-of-two, 61, who has been married to the TV star for 37 years said, “People cannot understand when we say we don't fight.”

Robin McGraw and Dr. Phil McGraw address the audience at the 14th Annual Race To Erase MS Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

30. Fight for the homeless.

When a guest arrived on Phil’s show and admitted to paying homeless people $20 to bash each other in the head with bottles and eat raw frogs, Phil stood up and said, “Stop the tape, stop the tape. I don’t want to talk to you. That’s despicable. You can go.” After kicking the guest off his show, Dr. Phil donated $25,000 to programs for the homeless nationwide.

Dr. Phil McGraw at the David Foster Hollywood Walk of Fame Star CeremonyKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

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