Dr. Phil McGraw

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Oprah Winfrey, The Dr. Phil Show, Shawnee Mission North High School, YMCA






The old YMCA on 8th Street in downtown Kansas City, Mo., closed down in 2014. Back in the 1960s, those with no where else to go could rent a room quite cheaply — the organization is long reputed for its strong community focus. A young Phil McGraw and his father called the YMCA home upon their move to Kansas City; it was quite an upgrade from his father’s car, their former residence.


Yes, yes. I am talking about that Phil McGraw, the Dr. Phil we all know and love — of course, at Oprah Winfrey’s suggestion. The two met in the midst of a suit against the lady mogul. Oprah has a power about her, and long-time loyal followers trust her word. When she on-air exiled beef from her diet (remember that whole mad cow disease thing?), the cattle farming industry saw a substantial drop in sales.


Enter Dr. Phil McGraw, psychologist extraordinaire. (Seriously. He got both his masters and Ph.D in four years at the University of North Texas). He’d already had quite a business endeavoring history — a failed Grecian-style spa,  a traveling motivational seminar titled “Pathways,” — before establishing Courtroom Sciences, Inc. Pairing psychology with high-profile cases, the Doc and the lawyers that hired him…won. A lot. As did Oprah, after her legal team employed him for the cow-suit. His luck just got better and better – endorsed by the hugely wealthy and powerful talk show host, his Tuesdays with Dr. Phil sessions on the show quickly launched his own daytime program: “Dr. Phil.”


So wait — how did ol’ Phil transition from car-living to super-stardom?


He attended, played for the football team and then graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School near Kansas City. He got married, got divorced, failed at the spa, obtained an excellent education, started in a practice but desired a less-conventional method of psychology-izing, and thus, he branched out.


According to Kansas City Star reporter and co-author of an unofficial biography of the psych guru Lisa Gutierrez, he also has a certain quality about him, a key to his success: “He’s…very hypnotic on stage, where he can control what’s being said and hold the audience in the palm of his hand.” He doles out no-nonsense, tough love and is an anti-divorce proponent. His first marriage and subsequent divorce was right out of high school, which apparently doesn’t count…


He’s been married to his present wife, Robin, for 25 years.