Phyllis Schlafly’s Husband, Fred Schlafly: Who Was He in Real Life?

Getty Phyllis Schlafly in 2007

Phyllis Schlafly is a central figure in the new Hulu series Mrs. America. She was married to John Fred Schlafly until he passed away in 1993. Here’s who Fred Schlafly was in real life. In the series, he’s portrayed by John Slattery.

Phyllis and John Fred Schlafly Jr. were married in 1949 when Phyllis was just 25 years old. When they first met, she was 24 and he was a 39-year-old attorney, The New York Times reported. His family was well off and part of the banking industry. They saw each other once a week and exchanged letters about political and theological topics during their courtship, Oprah Magazine reported. Schlafly said their relationship was a “happy intellectual partnership.”

Here’s a video below of the two together in a 1978 interview with Good Morning America. In the interview, Fred was asked if Phyllis “wears the pants in the family.” Fred laughed: “No she doesn’t,” he said. “…She’s very submissive.”

Phyllis agreed. “Fred is the boss of the family… Nothing is as much fun as a happy, long-time marriage.” She added that she was spending more time on the ERA because her children were older and didn’t need as much supervision anymore.

Fred added that he and Phyllis don’t disagree on any major issues.


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Fred said he met Phyllis when he went to read a newsletter about a topic he was debating on and found out that she wrote the newsletter. He invited her to lunch and it was love at first sight for both of them.

Fred said she was beautiful and extremely well-informed, which drew him to her. Phyllis said the love she felt was something magical that happened. She said that he was supportive of everything she’s done, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth doing. She said raising children and being part of a family was a lot more fun than her career.

According to her bio, they were married on October 20, 1949 at the St. Louis Cathedral and lived in Alton, Illinois from 1949 to 1993. They married about seven months after they first met.

When they married, she promised to cherish him but not obey, the New York Times reported. Over the years, her views became more conservative. She said that she was a more traditional wife and would often start her speeches by saying: “I want to thank my husband, Fred, for letting me come here.”

Fred didn’t describe himself as a feminist, he told Good Morning America in their 1978 interview. Phyllis said feminism was about putting self-fulfillment over everything else, and she felt that marriage was worth the cost of compromise. She and Fred said that their children could all read and write by the age of six, which was also the age when they started second grade. But once her children got older, she started traveling and debating more.

She and Fred started the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation in 1958, focused on teaching Catholics about the danger of Communism. They weren’t part of Rep. McCarthy’s anti-Communism crusade, however.

Phyllis Schlafly and John Fred Schlafly, Jr. had six children: John, Bruce, Roger, Liza, Andrew, and Anne. She also had 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren when she passed away, the New York Times reported.

Fred died in 1993. Phyllis did not pass away until 2016, so she lived many years after her husband. After he died, she moved to Ladue, Missouri.

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