• Debbie Higgins was an ambitious American woman born in Los Angeles in 1950.
• Her marriage to Dr. Phil ended in 1973 due to his abuse and infidelity.
• She worked as an editor and was involved in projects such as "Christy Mathewson Day" and "Demon Hunters: Fear the Silence".
• She suffered from cancer and passed away in 2014, aged 64.
• Her romantic affairs after her divorce were kept private.

Known for movies

Debbie Higgins is or was?

Unfortunately, the right answer is that Debbie Higgins was a strong and energetic American woman who had to face a lot of challenges in her life. The humiliating failed marriage with Dr. Phil ended in 1973 was far from being the last and the toughest one. She had to fight cruel cancer and sadly lost that battle. More about Debbie’s other battles in the following.

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Early life and childhood

Expectedly, little is known about Debbie’s life before the marriage that brought her in the spotlight. Not even a complete birthdate was given to the public, but it’s commonly thought that she was born in Los Angeles, USA around 1950. Her familial background is more than modest, having a housewife mother and a father who was a farmer. Despite their lower-middle-class position and their modest income, her parents managed to raise her and her brother, giving them the most they could hope for.

Debbie was an ambitious woman since her teenage years. Therefore, she wanted to study and to reach a certain level of academic development. After completing high school at New York High School she continued studying at Massachusetts Institute of Commerce.

High spirited girl – compliant wife

Debbie’s early marriage with such a dominant personality as Phil’s definitely changed her way of being. Reportedly, she was of very high spirit in high school, with a lot of energy and interest in various extracurricular activities; some of them were dancing, volleyball, and even soccer and cheerleading.

Afterwards and, especially starting from 1970, her life dramatically changed. What began on 27 November 1970 in Roeland Park, Kansas, USA as the wedding party and the celebration of the union of two destinies turned out to be one of Debbie’s biggest nightmares. She became Phil McGraw’s – known as Dr. Phil – first wife, but shortly after the big event, their relationship cracked.

Debbie’s marital experience

Phil’s behavior toward Debbie began to be abusive, both physically and psychologically. He not only prohibited her from going out alone, or continuing some of the activities she used to do, but he also beat her. Among the things that Debbie had to forcibly accept were Phil’s infidelities – the first time she found out about it was when her neighbor said: ‘Do you know when you go to the gym Phil brings women over to the house?’ He did not even bother to deny this, and the way he responded to Debbie’s reproaches was scandalous.  Phil considered this behavior normal for the era he was living in – ‘Oh get over it. It’s 1973, everybody does that’. As Debbie kept privacy about the disturbing experience, these details were later told by people around her, including her brother, Bill Higgins, and daughter, Marci McCall. The tabloid that published the unknown information was even contested by Dr. Phil.

Who is Dr. Phil?

Despite the controversies raised around his first marriage, Dr. Phil is a television personality, host of the talk show named after him, and appreciated for his grounded advice and understanding attitude towards other’s problems. He was born in 1950 too, in Vinita, Oklahoma, USA. Football was his first passion but he had to transfer from the college where he practiced it to Midwestern State University, Texas. There he completed his studies in psychology in 1975, continued his academic development with a master degree in experimental psychology and the journey successfully ended with a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas.

He didn’t immediately begin practicing, and looked like he couldn’t find his place in the industry. The moment that changed his perspectives was when he met Oprah Winfrey, and helped her win a trial in 1998. As a reward, he received a hosting job, at first in “The Oprah Winfrey Show, and then in 2002 in his own show. The average audience of the talk show is of approximately six million people daily.

Phil’s romantic affairs

In 1973 Debbie filed for divorce, because she couldn’t stand his infidelities and abuse anymore, so after only three years of marriage they went their separate ways. Phil, earlier than expected, started dating Robin Jo Jameson, it being a public relationship even before the official announcement of the divorce. This says more than enough about on which terms were the former spouses at that time.

In 1976 Jameson became Phil’s second wife, and then the mother of his two sons – Jay McGraw, born on 12 September 1979, and Jordan McGraw, who came into the world in 1986 – his first marriage hadn’t given him a child.

Debbie’s professional life

Being a former cheerleader and becoming an editor is not really a usual thing in one’s life. Debbie could, however, do this, and moreover become mainly known as a good editor. Some of the biggest projects she was involved in were “Christy Mathewson Day” (2011) and “Demon Hunters: Fear the Silence” (2013). The latter gave her the opportunity to work with big names in the industry, including Rob Dimension, Mary Bonczek, and Chris Eilenstine, Debra Higgins.

What is Debbie’s death cause?

If it wasn’t for her brother’s recent statements, it nothing would have been known about Debbie’s death. After the divorce she took a step back, and focused on her professional development and on her daughter. Other romantic affairs that she might have had were held away from the public – some sources mention her remarrying and giving birth to four children, but none from her family has ever confirmed this information.  Furthermore, neither her death nor the specific causes of it were known until recently. According to her brother, she suffered from a form of cancer that ultimately took her life in 2014, when she was only 64 years old.



Demon Hunters: Fear the Silence2013


Christy Mathewson Day2011Documentary thanks: original funder


Christy Mathewson Day2011DocumentaryHerself

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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