When Marlo Thomas was an 18-year-old up-and-coming actress, she was devastated when journalists began debating whether she'd ever be as good or popular as her famous father, TV star Danny Thomas. She went to him in tears, insisting that she wanted to change her name.
"I raised you to be a thoroughbred," Danny told his daughter. "They wear blinders and run their own race. That's what you have to do: run your own race."
That single comment inspired Thomas' wildly popular 2002 best-seller, "The Right Words at the Right Time," a collection of first-person stories about the power of words by such icons as Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.
After the book's release, people from across the country approached Marlo to share their own "right words" stories. The result is Thomas' new book, "The Right Words at the Right Time, Vol. 2: Your Turn!" (Atria Books, $25), a moving collection of 101 unforgettable stories in which everyday Americans recall the pivotal moment in their lives when words made all the difference.
Like the tale of a Gulf War veteran, whose life was transformed by two words spoken to him by a young stranger at Burger King. Or the aimless mechanic, who found salvation in a Help Wanted ad. Or the bereaved fiancé of a 9-11 victim, who found hope in a note left by a schoolgirl, pinned to a teddy bear.
Royalties from sales will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which was founded by Danny Thomas.