Free to Be…Marlo Thomas

I was too little to have a proper crush on Marlo Thomas back in the 70s, but for me she idealized what every cool older sister, hip aunt, or groovy babysitter ought to be.  Throughout her entire career she has been a symbol of, and activist for, individual empowerment.  From “That Girl” in 1966 where she portrayed a young woman living on her own in New York City, with a career and aspirations.  In the 70s she was best known for the book, record, and ABC afterschool special she produced called “Free to be…You and Me”.  If you are still not familiar with who she is, ask your parents, or you might know her as the hot cougar with the mean dog in the 1999 film Deuce Bigalow-Male Gigolo.

“Free to be… ” seems quaint and out of date today because it was so ground breaking.  It helped to effect change, empower kids, and remove prejudices.  The notions of boys wanting a doll, women having careers, or men crying were ridiculed by the status quo in the 70s. The idea of teaching kids non-sexism was seen as political and controversial.

Below is the entire TV special.  It will give some of you flashbacks!  Watch it with your kids and see what they think.  I bet the like the tunes and actors and characters, but feel the message is old fashioned.  Well Good!


Free to Be… You and Me (1974)

The animated segment of Princess Atalanta racing against her suitors, and the final sprint against Young John kinda reminded me of Dagny and Hank on board the engine on the John Galt Line.

Marlo’s inspiring career and life story get even more interesting.  Publicly she is known for liberating young minds, but Marlo found personal liberation in reading Ayn Rand.  She lists Rand as one of her favorite authors. Marlo says, “I was a good Catholic girl who went to Marymount for 12 years. Ayn Rand said original sin was bogus, and that no children were born with sin. That was completely liberating for me. The other thing that stayed with me was that it wasn’t the strong people in the world that will kill you, but the weak.”

As a kid I thought Marlo Thomas was the coolest lady ever.  Now as an adult I am reminded why, and am happy to see her promoting individualism and freedom on her web site www.MarloThomas.com, in her twitter feed, and to the press (NY Post, WowOwow).

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