Through the TV screen, Dr. Phil has been coming into the homes of millions of viewers for nearly two decades, so it’s no wonder that people feel like they know him on a close level. His work on Oprah, Dr. Phil, and various other shows has impacted many as the pop culture icon continues to influence TV psychology with a blend of reality TV and entertainment. To date, he has produced over two thousand episodes of Dr. Phil.
Still relevant today, the Dr. Phil show promotes itself as "the most comprehensive forum on mental health issues in the history of television.” Add in segments from his wife Robin through her feature ‘Robin’s World’ and a bigger picture is painted of the McGraw family. That being said, there is a lot to learn about Phil, Robin, and their two sons that aren’t shared on his program. From previous marriages to tabloid lawsuits, here are 20 surprising facts about Dr. Phil and his family.
20 A Former Football Star
Phil McGraw was known for his football playing long before he was coaching people on TV towards leading their best lives. The six-foot-four gentle giant was a linebacker and was granted a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa before he graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
19 His Failed Marriage To A Cheerleader
Before Robin, Phil had a failed marriage to his first wife, Debbie Higgins McCall. Phil told Newsweek, ″I was the big football player, and she was the cheerleader. This was just the next thing to do.″ He added that it just didn’t work out. His ex has gone public saying less favourable things, sending a statement to the press insinuating that Dr. Phil was domineering and had unrealistic expectations of marriage, and how a wife should look and act.
18 Robin Doesn't Believe In This Type Of Addiction
Robin has been candid about not believing in bedroom-style addictions and them causing cheating in relationships. Dr. Phil attempted to explain this to his viewers, specifically about a guest who had repeatedly been unfaithful to his partner, “Now, does that mean that what he’s doing is not self-destructive? No. It is self-destructive. Does it mean it’s not change-worthy? No. It is change-worthy, self-destructive behavior and I don’t believe he has a clue about what to do about it, how to attack this, how to get things where they need to be.”
17 The Lawsuit Against The Tabloids
After years of unfounded gossip splashed all over the tabloids, Robin decided enough was enough and in July 2016 the couple filed a 250-million-dollar lawsuit against The National Inquirer for publishing lies about their lives and personal relationship. Phil told the Daily Mail about the suit, “As a member of the media, I have a deep respect for the First Amendment. But it does not protect these people who knowingly print lies for money, particularly lies about my wife.”
16 A Wedding Cake For Every Occasion
Robin has a favourite dessert and it’s not run of the mill ice cream or pie. Robin gushed about how Phil keeps the romance alive whenever there is a need for celebration, “He always does the one thing he knows I really love and that is getting my favorite dessert for every occasion, wedding cake. That is my go-to dessert and he knows I love it and always makes sure it is here for me.”
15 The Truth Behind Over 40 Years Of Marriage
Despite showing his guests tough love, when it comes to his family, he wears his heart on his sleeve. For their 40th wedding anniversary, Phil posted video clips that included romantic music and a montage of family photos from over the years. With it he posted to Twitter, “40 loving years and counting with the same sweet girl I met at 19!! Here’s to 40 more. I love you, Phillip.”
14 His Views On Legalization
Dr. Phil is not a fan of kids imbibing in certain green products. The host famously said, “Your brain grows until you’re 25 at least and it’s constantly changing. When you get to be 18, 19, 20, it’s actually pruning itself back. When you smoke... it’s like opening your computer up and pouring water inside, a lot of things short out and it connects where it’s not supposed to and really creates problems.” His spokespeople say this was simply a metaphor about “impairing cognitive efficiency” however critics say this statement does not line up with modern medical evidence.
13 Both Robin & Phil Grew Up In Homes With Problems
Like anyone growing up life isn’t perfect. Because of the challenges faced at home both Robin and Phil worked hard to provide the best possible life for their two sons. Robin spoke to New You Magazine about the impact of growing up with an alcoholic father had on her saying, “I lived in uncertainty every day because of it and didn’t like the feeling. I made decisions early on that I was going to do everything I could to be in control of myself and my life.”
12 Candid Thoughts On Cheating
Dr. Phil has spoken numerous times about how a brain scan can showcase people who are at higher risk of cheating on their partners. He said, “There are certain brain patterns that make us high-risk for this. They've now identified a gene that they believe may have a contribution to this, as well. So yes, how your brain is configured, how it's wired, can be a huge contributing factor." Dr. Phil added, “You find these people that have a history of cheating, you compare their brains to normal and you see it's dramatically different."
11 The Tragic Act Of Violence
In 2001, Robin’s sister, Cindi, encountered a random act of violence when a person threw a jar of sulfuric acid over a highway overpass. Cindi was in the passenger seat of the car when the acid dropped through the windshield. She was in the hospital for three weeks, with over 70 percent of her body and face burned, and was told that she’d only have a 30 percent chance of survival. Cindi appeared on Dr. Phil’s show to speak about this tragedy and moving on and surviving the incident, and over 12 surgeries throughout her recovery.
10 His Son's Music Career
Talent isn’t just for parents. Their son Jordan is a recording artist who has enjoyed successes that include opening for the Jonas Brothers. He began playing guitar at 15 years old, and performed in several bands before launching a solo career this past spring. His first single, “Flexible” was directed by Joe Jonas and includes a lot of celebrity cameos, including one from his dear old dad, Dr. Phil.
9 Two Teetotalers In Love
Both coming from families with issues with the bottle, the McGraws refrain from drinking. In 2014, Dr. Phil told people that he hadn’t had a drink in over 45 years. Robin says, “The first date that we went on, I asked him if he drank alcohol, and he said, ‘No. I think I’m allergic to it and I said, ‘Oh, I think I love you!”
8 Robin Can't Keep A Secret
Sharing their secrets for success aren’t things that the McGraw family wants to keep under their hats. All enjoying a long and happy marriage and fulfilling family life, instead of just enjoying it, they decided to spread the wealth around. The fact that Robin doesn’t keep secrets was the inspiration for the name of her Podcast, I’ve Got A Secret.
7 The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
When Robin and Phil were playing the dating game they weren’t always as open and honest as Dr. Phil encourages his guests to be. In fact, they even played some relationship games. After they dated and then broke up before things got serious, because Robin wanted to focus on her school, she had second thoughts about Phil. She called Phil’s house and left a message for him to call her back, when he did, her friend answered the phone to tell Phil she was out on a date. Apparently, the trick worked, because he worked to win her over again and they were engaged the very next Valentine’s Day.
6 The New Podcast
Robin launched a podcast this past September called I’ve Got A Secret to share anything and everything about her life as an entrepreneur, mother, wife, grandmother, philanthropist, and best-selling author. Enlisting the help of experts and her own know-how the intent is to empower others and guide them towards success, particularly women, through their advice and practical life knowledge.
5 Thoughtful & Romantic Gestures To Keep The Love Alive
Robin believes that the art of flirting is key to keeping a relationship red hot, and steamy and she equates it with learning your partner’s love language. She says, “Always flirt! A piece of advice I’d tell women: learn what your husband considers flirting and learn what makes your husband happy.״
4 A Family Thought On How To Stop The Tabloids
After their run-ins with tabloids spreading lies about their lives, both Robin and Phil have a lot to say about others trying to interfere with your relationship. Robin has said, "I think it's the belief that you can't live in Hollywood and be happily married, but you can." When appearing on The Talk and speaking to press fuelling feuds Robin focused on the importance of learning the phrase ‘no comment’.
3 Surgery Rumours
Robin’s dewy and youthful appearance has people talking. Some want to hear about the food she eats to keep it so nice, how much water she drinks, or even her favourite skincare products. Others speculate that she’s gone under the knife for surgical ‘enhancements’ to maintain her looks, we’re guessing because they’re jealous!
2 Advocating For Self-Care
The untimely death of Robin’s mother was what inspired her to focus on her own self-care. Robin told Yahoo Lifestyle, “I grew up with the most amazing mother” but cautioned this selflessness came with a dire cost. When her mother called and asked to speak to Phil because she felt strange, Robin recalls, “And I said, ‘What do you mean by funny?’ And before I had even finished that question, she was already gone. She died, that fast, of undiagnosed heart disease.”
Robin added that, from that time forward, she wasn’t going to carry forward that legacy of her mom’s, and made sure she took care of both herself and her family.
1 Mourning Lost Family Members
Just last year Robin’s sister Cindi Passed away. As Cindi and Robin were so close this was understandably hard on her. Robin posted photos of her sister on IG saying, “We are all heartbroken and will miss her every day. She was our hero. You 3 all made her life a dream. She lived every day for her daughters and you always made her the happiest woman ever! I will celebrate her and her strength and her unwavering support for me for the rest of my life. I miss her dearly.”
Sources: People, Ninja Journalist, WSBTV, Yahoo Lifestyle, Daily Mail, Snopes, Vice, The Famous People, Record Net, Biography