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#Biography

Oprah Winfrey- American Talk Show Host, TV Director, Actress, Author, and Media Owner

Oprah Winfrey- American Talk Show Host, TV Director, Actress, Author, and Media Owner

Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American talk show host, TV director, actress, author, and media owner. She was born on January 29, 1954, as Orpah Gail Winfrey. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired from Chicago from 1986 to 2011 and was shown all over the country. She was the richest African-American of the 20th century and was once the only black billionaire in the world. She was called the “Queen of All Media.” By 2007, she was often named the world’s most powerful woman.

Winfrey was born in a poor area of Mississippi to a young mother who was living alone. She was raised in a poor area of Milwaukee. She has said that she was abused as a child and early teen, and that she got pregnant when she was 14. Her son was born early and died when he was young. Winfrey was then sent to live with Vernon Winfrey, a barber in Nashville, Tennessee, whom she calls her father. While she was still in high school, she got a job in radio. By the time she was 19, she was helping to lead the local evening news. Winfrey’s often emotional and impromptu speaking style led to her being moved to afternoon talk shows. After taking a third-rated Chicago talk show to the top, she started her own production company.

By the middle of the 1990s, Winfrey had changed her show so that it was more about books, self-improvement, being mindful, and spirituality. Even though she has been criticized for starting a confession culture, pushing controversial self-help ideas, and focusing on feelings, she has also been praised for overcoming hardship to help others. Winfrey also became a political power during the 2008 presidential race. It is thought that her support for Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic primaries was worth about a million votes. In 2013, President Barack Obama gave Winfrey the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also got honorary doctorates from Duke and Harvard. In 2008, she started the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which is her own network.

Phil Donahue started the tabloid talk show genre, but Oprah Winfrey made it more famous and changed it. She is credited with making it more personal and confessional.[20] She was given a place in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. Winfrey has won many awards throughout her career, including 18 Daytime Emmy Awards (including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman’s Award), two Primetime Emmy Awards (including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award), a Tony Award, a Peabody Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy Awards. She has also been nominated for two competitive Academy Awards. In 2021, Winfrey was chosen to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JUNE 30: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during ‘From the Page to the Stage and Beyond: A Discussion of the nearly 40-Year Legacy and Impact of The Color Purple’ during the 2023 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on June 30, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images FOR ESSENCE)

Early years

Orpah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954. On her birth record, her first name was written as “Orpah,” after a character in the Bible’s Book of Ruth. However, people often mispronounced it, so “Oprah” stuck. She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, who was only a teenager at the time, and Vernon Winfrey. Parents of Winfrey never got married.Vernita Lee, who lived from 1935 to 2018, worked as a maid.[27][28] Vernon Winfrey (1933–2022) was in the Armed Forces when she was born. He had been a coal miner, a barber, and a city councilman. In 2006, a genetic test showed that her mother’s family came from the Kpelle ethnic group in the area that is now Liberia. Scientists found that she was 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian based on her DNA. But because DNA testing is not very accurate, it’s possible that the East Asian markers are really Native American.

After Winfrey was born, her mother moved to the north, and Winfrey lived with her grandma, Hattie Mae (Presley) Lee, for her first six years. Hattie Mae (Presley) Lee was born on April 15, 1900, and died on February 27, 1963. Because her grandma was so poor, Winfrey often wore dresses made out of potato sacks, which made other kids laugh. Her grandma taught her to read before she was three years old and took her to church, where people called her “The Preacher” because she could quote Bible verses. People say that Winfrey’s grandmother was mean to her when she was a kid.

Winfrey moved with her mother to an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when she was six years old. Her mother was less encouraging and loving than her grandmother had been, mostly because she worked long hours as a maid. Around this time, Lee had given birth to another daughter, Patricia, who was Winfrey’s younger half-sister. Patricia died in February 2003, at the age of 43, from problems linked to her cocaine use. By 1962, Lee was having trouble taking care of both of her girls, so Winfrey was sent to Nashville, Tennessee, to live with Vernon for a while. While Winfrey was in Nashville, Lee had her third daughter, who was also named Patricia. She was put up for adoption to help Lee’s finances, which were so bad that she was on welfare. Winfrey didn’t find out until 2010 that she had a second half-sister. By the time Winfrey moved back in with her mother, Lee had also given birth to Winfrey’s half-brother Jeffrey, who died of AIDS-related causes in 1989. She was baptized in a Baptist church when she was eight years old.

Winfrey has said that her cousin, uncle, and a family friend abused her starting when she was nine years old. She first talked about this on an episode of her TV show about sexual abuse in 1986. A biographer said that when Winfrey told her family about the claimed abuse when she was 24, they didn’t believe her story. Winfrey once said that she didn’t want to be a mother because she wasn’t taken care of well as a child. Winfrey ran away from home when she was 13. She said she had been abused for years, so she didn’t want to go back. She got pregnant when she was 14 years old, but her son was born too soon and died soon after. Later, Winfrey said she felt betrayed by the family member who told the National Enquirer in 1990 about her son.

Winfrey went to Milwaukee’s Lincoln High School, but after doing well in the Upward Bound program, he was moved to the wealthy Nicolet High School in a nearby neighborhood. When she moved, she said that riding the bus to school with other African-Americans, some of whom worked for the families of her friends, reminded her of how poor she was. She started to fight against her parents and steal money from them to keep up with her free-spending friends. Because of this, her mother sent her back to Nashville to live with Vernon, but this time she didn’t take her back. Vernon was strict, but he was also supportive, and he put her schooling first. Winfrey became an honors student, was named “Most Popular Girl,” and joined the speech team at East Nashville High School, where she placed second in the country in dramatic interpretation. In 1986, Winfrey said, “When my father took me, my whole life changed. He saved me. He just knew what he wanted and what he was looking for. He wouldn’t settle for anything less.

Winfrey’s first job was at a food store when she was a teenager. Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty event when she was 17 years old.She also caught the attention of WVOL, a black radio station in the area, which hired her to do part-time news. She worked there during her senior year of high school and her first two years of college. She won an oratory contest, which gave her a full grant to study communication at Tennessee State University, a historically black school. But she didn’t turn in her final paper and get her degree until 1987, when she was already a well-known TV star.

Winfrey’s grandmother once said that Winfrey has been on stage since she could talk. So, her job in the media wouldn’t have been a surprise to her. As a child, she played games where she interviewed her corncob doll and the crows on the fence of her family’s land. Winfrey later said that her grandma, Hattie Mae, had a big impact on her. She said that Hattie Mae had pushed her to speak in public and “gave me a good sense of myself.”

Television

Winfrey was the first black female news anchor and the youngest news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV (now WTVF), where she covered many of the same stories as John Tesh, who worked at a rival station in Nashville. In 1976, she went to WJZ-TV in Baltimore to co-anchor the 6 p.m. news there. In 1977, she was taken off the air as a co-anchor and given less important jobs at the station. Then, Richard Sher asked her to be a co-host on WJZ’s local talk show People Are Talking, which started on August 14, 1978. She also ran the local version of Dialing for Dollars.

In 1984, Winfrey moved to Chicago to lead AM Chicago, a low-rated half-hour morning talk show on WLS-TV. The general manager of that station, Dennis Swanson, hired her. On January 2, 1984, the first show aired. Within a few months of Winfrey taking over, the show went from being the least popular to being the most popular talk show in Chicago, beating out Donahue. Roger Ebert, a movie critic, talked her into making a deal with King World to syndicate her work. Ebert thought she would make 40 times as much money as his TV show, “At the Movies.”[62] Then, it was changed to The Oprah Winfrey Show and made an hour long. On September 8, 1986, the first episode was shown all over the country. Winfrey’s syndicated show had twice as many viewers across the country as Donahue’s, making it the most popular afternoon talk show in the United States. Their much-publicized competition drew a lot of attention. In August 1988, Time magazine said the following:

Few people would have predicted that Oprah Winfrey would become the host of the most famous talk show on TV so quickly. She is a big, black woman who works in an area where white men are the majority. She is not as good a journalist as, say, Phil Donahue… What she lacks in toughness as a writer, she makes up for with plain-spoken curiosity, strong humor, and, most importantly, empathy. When a guest has a sad story to tell, Oprah is likely to shed a tear. In turn, they often end up saying things they would never tell anyone else, let alone a national TV audience. It’s like group therapy in the form of a talk show.

TV writer Howard Rosenberg said, “She’s a roundhouse, a full course meal, big, brassy, loud, aggressive, hyper, laughable, loveable, soulful, tender, low-down, earthy, and hungry. She might know how to get to Phil Donahue’s heart.” Les Payne of Newsday said, “Oprah Winfrey is sharper than Donahue, funnier, more genuine, and far more in tune with her audience, if not the world.” Martha Bayles of The Wall Street Journal said, “It’s a relief to see a gossip with a fond but realistic view of her own cultural and religious roots.”

When The Oprah Winfrey Show first started, it was called a gossip talk show. Winfrey started hosting shows about heart disease, geopolitics, faith, and meditation around the middle of the 1990s. She talked to famous people about social problems they were directly involved with, like cancer, charity work, or drug abuse, and she hosted giveaways on TV. People said that Winfrey’s show was full of “junk science” in its later years. This has led to Winfrey being criticized for bringing on people whose medical opinions, both on her show and in other media, are often not backed up by science. People often criticize Dr. Oz for promoting different “miracle pills,” especially those that help people lose weight. They also criticize Dr. Phil, Jenny McCarthy for making false claims about vaccines, and Suzanne Somers for promoting bioidenticals. Several news outlets have asked Oprah to refute medical claims made by her former employees after her show stopped. For instance, there were calls for her to criticize Dr. Oz in 2020 because of what he said about coronavirus and how he pushed a drug that hadn’t been tested well as a fix.

In addition to her talk show, Winfrey produced and co-starred in the 1989 drama movie The Women of Brewster Place and its short-lived spin-off, Brewster Place. Winfrey not only hosts and appears on TV shows, but she also helped start the women’s cable TV network Oxygen. From 2002 to 2006, Oprah After the Show aired on Oxygen before moving to Oprah.com after Winfrey sold her share of the network. She is also the head of Harpo Productions, which is the company that makes shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, The Dr. Oz Show, and many more. From 1992 to 1994, she was the host of three ABC Afterschool Specials.

Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey announced on January 15, 2008, that Discovery Health station would become a new station called OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. It was supposed to come out in 2009, but it didn’t. Instead, it came out on January 1, 2011.

On May 25, 2011, the last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired.

In January 2017, CBS stated that Winfrey would join 60 Minutes in September 2017 as a special contributor to the Sunday evening news magazine show.[75] In 2018, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened a special exhibit about how Winfrey’s TV shows affected culture.[76] By the end of 2018, Winfrey was no longer on 60 Minutes.

In June 2018, Apple and Winfrey announced a multi-year content partnership. As part of the deal, Winfrey decided to make new original shows that would only be available on Apple’s streaming service, Apple TV+.Under the deal, the first show to air was Oprah’s Book Club on November 1, 2019. The show is based on a piece from The Oprah Winfrey Show with the same name. Oprah Talks COVID-19, the second show in the deal, started on March 21, 2020, during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Oprah Conversation, a third show, started on July 30, 2020. Winfrey said she would “continue to explore important and relevant topics with interesting thought leaders from all over the world” on this show.

Celebrity Interview

In 1993, Winfrey had a rare interview with Michael Jackson during prime time. The interview was watched by 36.5 million people, making it the most watched interview ever and the fourth most watched event in the history of American television. Winfrey went on the Late Show with David Letterman on December 1, 2005, for the first time in 16 years. She was there to talk about the new Broadway musical she directed, The Color Purple. Some people called it the “television event of the decade,” and it helped Letterman get his biggest crowd in more than 11 years, with 13.45 million people watching. It was said that the split was caused by a feud that had been talked about a lot, but both Winfrey and Letterman didn’t want to talk about it. Winfrey said, “I want you to know that whatever you thought was going on is really over.” Letterman’s first time on The Oprah Winfrey Show was on September 10, 2007, when the first show of the season was shot in New York City.

In 2006, singers Ludacris, 50 Cent, and Ice Cube said Winfrey had a bias against hip hop that they didn’t like. In an interview with GQ magazine, Ludacris said that Winfrey gave him a “hard time” about his songs and changed things he said when the cast of the movie Crash was on her show. He also said that he wasn’t asked to join the rest of the group on the show at first. Winfrey replied that she doesn’t like rap songs that “marginalize women,” but she likes some artists, like Kanye West, who has been on her show. She said she talked to Ludacris backstage after his show to explain her position. She said she knew his music was just for fun, but that some people might take it seriously. In September 2008, Winfrey was criticized after Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report said Winfrey wouldn’t let Sarah Palin appear on her show because she supported Barack Obama. Winfrey denied the story, saying that she and Palin had never talked about her coming on her show. She said that after she said she liked Obama in public, she decided she wouldn’t let any of the candidates use her show as a stage. Obama has been on her show twice, but that was before he announced he was running for president. Winfrey also said that Palin would be a great guest and that she would love to have her on the show after the election. On November 18, 2009, she did just that.

In 2009, Winfrey was criticized for letting actress Suzanne Somers talk about hormone treatments that are not accepted by mainstream doctors on her show. Critics have also said that Winfrey doesn’t ask her famous guests or politicians who she seems to like tough enough questions.[88] Lisa de Moraes, a media columnist for The Washington Post, said, “Oprah doesn’t do follow-up questions unless you’re an author who’s embarrassed her by making up parts of a supposed memoir she’s promoting for her book club.”

In 2021, she interviewed Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Prince Harry. The interview was shown around the world and got a lot of attention from foreign media.

Other Media

Film

Winfrey played Sofia, a sad mother, in The Color Purple, a 1985 film by Steven Spielberg. For her work, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later, the Alice Walker book was turned into a Broadway musical that opened in late 2005. Winfrey is listed as one of the producers of the show. Winfrey produced and acted in the movie Beloved, which was based on Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name. The movie came out in October 1998. Winfrey went through a 24-hour simulation of slavery to prepare for her part as Sethe, the main character and a former slave. During the simulation, she was tied up, blindfolded, and left alone in the woods. Beloved opened to bad box office results, losing about $30 million. This was despite a lot of advertising, including two episodes of her talk show that were only about the movie, and mixed to good reviews from critics. Thandie Newton, who was also in the movie, said of Winfrey that she is “a very strong technical actress, and that’s because she’s so smart.” She’s sharp. “Her mind is sharp as a razor blade.” In 2005, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was made into a movie by Harpo Productions. Halle Berry played the main female part in the made-for-TV movie, which was based on a teleplay by Suzan-Lori Parks.

Late in 2008, Winfrey’s company, Harpo Films, made a deal with HBO to only make scripted shows, specials, and movies for the network.

In Charlotte’s Web (2006), Oprah was the voice of Gussie the goose. In Bee Movie (2007), she was the voice of Judge Bumbleton, along with the voices of Jerry Seinfeld and Renée Zellweger. In 2009, Winfrey voiced Eudora, Princess Tiana’s mother, in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. The following year, she presented the US version of the BBC nature show Life for Discovery.

Winfrey played Mrs. Which in the movie version of Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time, which came out in 2018. She also did the role of a character in Crow: The Legend, an animated virtual reality short film with John Legend that was written and directed by Eric Darnell and told the story of how Native Americans came to be.

Publication

Winfrey has written or co-written five books. At the 2005 announcement of a weight-loss book she wrote with her personal trainer Bob Greene, it was said that her undisclosed advance fee had broken the record for the world’s biggest advance fee for a book, which had been held by Bill Clinton’s autobiography.

In 2015, she said that her book, The Life You Want, would come out after her tour of the same name. It was supposed to come out in 2017, but it was “indefinitely postponed” in 2016.

Winfrey puts out the magazine O, The Oprah Magazine. She also put out a magazine called O At Home from 2004 to 2008.Fortune magazine said in 2002 that O, the Oprah Magazine was the most successful start-up in the industry’s history. Even though the number of copies sold dropped by more than 10 percent, or 2.4 million, from 2005 to 2008, the January 2009 issue was the best-selling issue since 2006.Since 2006, the January 2009 issue was the one that sold the most copies. The people who read her magazine are much wealthier than the people who watch her TV show. The average reader makes much more than the median income for U.S. women. In July 2020, it was said that after the December 2020 issue, O Magazine would no longer be published in paper. Winfrey thanked readers in the December 2020 issue and said that it was the “last monthly print edition” of the magazine.

Online

The Oprah.com website was made by Winfrey’s company to offer resources and interactive material about her shows, magazines, book club, and charity work. On average, more than six million people visit Oprah.com each month, and the site gets about 20,000 emails each week. Winfrey started “Oprah’s Child Predator Watch List” on her show and website to help find people who have been accused of sexually abusing children. Two of the main characters were caught in the first 48 hours.

Radio

On February 9, 2006, it was reported that Winfrey had signed a three-year, $55-million deal with XM Satellite Radio to start a new radio station. Nate Berkus, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bob Greene, Dr. Robin Smith, and Marianne Williamson are some of the well-known people who have written for The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine. At 11 a.m. ET on September 25, 2006, Oprah & Friends started airing from a new studio at Winfrey’s Chicago office. On XM Radio station 156, the station can be heard 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Winfrey’s contract says that she has to be on the show for 30 minutes every week, 39 weeks out of the year.

Personal Life

Home

Over the course of her life and work, Oprah’s large and constantly changing real-estate portfolio has attracted a lot of attention. Many well-known industry outlets have called her a “tycoon” because of her investments, which are expected to be worth about $127 million by 2022.

In 1985, when Oprah’s talk show was just getting started, she bought a condo in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. In 1992, 1993, and 1994, she bought the condos next to it and directly below it. In 1988, she bought a 164-acre farm in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, with a main house, a guest house, an orchard, and stables to use on the weekends. She bought an 80-acre house in Telluride, Colorado, in 1992. She sold it around the end of the year 2000. She also bought a room in the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago in 1994. She bought five condos on Fisher Island, Florida, in different parts of the city between 1996 and 2000. In 2000, Oprah bought her friend Gayle King a house in Greenwich, Connecticut. She did this through her Chicago-based LLC, Overground Railroad. In 2001, Oprah sold all five of her Fisher Island houses and bought what would become her “main home base,” which she has also called “The Promised Land.” It is a (then) 42-acre (17-ha) estate in Montecito, California, with views of the ocean and the mountains. As of 2022, this is where she lives.

In the same year, she also bought homes for other family members and friends in Elmwood Park, Illinois, and Merrillville, Indiana. In the same way, she bought her father’s house in Franklin, Tennessee, and a condo on a lake in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2002. She put her house in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, on the market in 2003 and sold it in 2004. From 2003 to 2005, Oprah bought 163 acres of land in Kula and Hana, Hawaii, and an Atlanta, Georgia, penthouse apartment. She bought a house in Douglasville, Georgia, in 2005. In 2011, she gave it to a family member.

In 2006, Oprah bought a co-op apartment on Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago. She was rumored to have planned to move there permanently from her previous condo unit in Water Tower Place for the duration of her show. However, for unknown reasons, she never moved in and the property sat empty until she sold it in 2012. She sold her Atlanta sky apartment in 2008. In the same year, she also put Gayle King’s land on the market and bought her a penthouse apartment in midtown Manhattan, New York City, through her second LLC, Sophie’s Penthouse. This apartment was later sold in 2012.

She put her two-unit Chicago condo on the market at the beginning of 2014. Later that same year, Oprah went back to Telluride, Colorado, to buy a 60-acre lot where she planned to build. In the same year, a retired nuclear scientist who lived nearby sued her over trail access rights. The judge threw out the case later that year, citing, among other things, the lack of case law to support his case. No one knows what the deal between all the parties and governments says about how she can develop the property in the future.

In 2015, Oprah bought another property in Telluride. Later that same year, she added another 23-acre estate and a 44-acre crop and equestrian preserve to her Montecito farm. She also sold both of her homes in downtown Chicago that same year.

In 2018, Oprah bought two neighboring plots of land on Orcas Island, Washington, for a total of 23 acres, including the Madroneagle compound. She also sold her last home in the Chicago area, which was in Elmwood Park. Late in 2019, Oprah bought a four-acre complex from actor Jeff Bridges to add to her home base in Montecito. This time, she added 70 connected acres. In 2021, she sold her Orcas Island compound because she said she was too busy to use it. She then bought another compound in Montecito, which was farther from her home-base compound. In 2022, she sold the Montecito compound, which was split into two properties, to her property manager and longtime personal trainer Bob Greene and actress Jennifer Aniston.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JUNE 30: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during ‘From the Page to the Stage and Beyond: A Discussion of the nearly 40-Year Legacy and Impact of The Color Purple’ during the 2023 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on June 30, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images FOR ESSENCE)

Romance Life

Anthony Otey, Winfrey’s high school sweetheart, said that they had a sweet courtship that started in Winfrey’s senior year. He saved all of their love letters, and Winfrey was a good person and a model student. They talked about getting married, but Otey said that he always knew that Winfrey would have a better life than he could. Winfrey broke up with him on Valentine’s Day of her senior year

Winfrey met William “Bubba” Taylor at Tennessee State University in 1971. This was a few months after she broke up with Otey. George Mair, a reporter for CBS, says that Winfrey’s love for Taylor was her “first intense, to die for love affair.” Winfrey helped Taylor get a job at WVOL, and Mair said that Winfrey “did everything to keep him, including literally begging him on her knees to stay with her.” However, when Winfrey moved to Baltimore to work at WJZ-TV in June 1976, Taylor didn’t want to go with her. Winfrey would say in the future, “We really did care about each other.” We had a deep love for each other that I will never forget.

Winfrey was in a relationship with John Tesh in the 1970s. Biographer Kitty Kelley says that Tesh and Winfrey broke up because of the stress of being in a mixed-race relationship.

When the management of WJZ-TV criticized Winfrey for crying on air while reporting tragedies and didn’t like how she looked (especially after a bad perm made her hair fall out), Winfrey went to fellow reporter Lloyd Kramer for comfort. “Lloyd was just the best,” Winfrey would say about him in the future. “That man loved me even when I was bald! He was great. He stuck with me through the whole depressing thing. That man was the most fun relationship I’ve ever had.”

Mair says that when Kramer moved to NBC in New York, Winfrey had an affair with a married man who had no plans to leave his wife. Winfrey would later say, “I had a relationship with a man for four years. I wasn’t living with him. I’d never lived with anyone—and I thought I was worthless without him. The more he rejected me, the more I wanted him. I felt drained and powerless. At the end, I was on “I couldn’t kill myself because I was afraid that as soon as I did, something great would happen and I would miss it.”

Winfrey says that her emotional problems gradually made her gain weight: “The reason I gained so much weight in the first place and the reason I had such a bad history of abusive relationships with men was that I just needed approval so much. I needed everyone to like me, because I didn’t like myself much. So I’d end up with these cruel, self-centered guys who’d tell me how selfish I was, and I’d say, “Thank you, you’re so right,” and be grateful to them.

Winfrey later admitted that she had smoked crack cocaine with a man she was dating at the same time. She said on her show, “I always felt that the drug itself wasn’t the problem, but that I was addicted to the man.” She also said, “I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t have done for that man.”

Winfrey is said to have had a second love affair that involved drugs. Randolph Cook said he was his ex-boyfriend and that they lived together and did drugs for a few months in 1985. In 1997, Cook tried to sue Winfrey for $20 million because she reportedly blocked a tell-all book about their alleged relationship.

Winfrey dated Roger Ebert for a short time in the 1980s. She says that Ebert was the one who told her to put her show on broadcast.

Before Winfrey’s Chicago talk show went national in 1985, Haitian filmmaker Reginald Chevalier says he was a guest on a look-alike piece and started dating her. He says they had romantic nights at home, baths with candles, and dinners with Michael Jordan and Danny Glover. Chevalier says that Winfrey broke up with him when she started dating Stedman Graham.

Winfrey has been with her boyfriend, Stedman Graham, since 1986. They were supposed to get married in November 1992, but it never happened.

Close friends

Winfrey celebrated her 50th birthday at her Santa Barbara home with friends in 2004.
Gayle King has been Winfrey’s best friend since they were young adults. King used to host The Gayle King Show, and now she works as a writer for O, the Oprah Magazine. Since 1997, when Winfrey played the therapist on an episode of the sitcom Ellen in which Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet, Winfrey and King have been the subject of persistent reports that they were gay. In the August 2006 issue of O magazine, Winfrey says, “I get why people think we’re gay.” “Our culture doesn’t have a word for this kind of bond between women, so I get why people have to label it. How can you be this close without it being sexual?” “I’ve told almost everything there is to tell. All my stuff is out there. People think I’d be so ashamed of being gay that I wouldn’t admit it? Oh, please.”

Winfrey and Shriver have been friends for a long time after meeting in Baltimore. Winfrey considered Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, her mentor and close friend. She called Angelou her “mother-sister-friend.” Winfrey threw Angelou “an extravagant 80th birthday celebration” at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2008.

Personal Wealth

Winfrey was born in a poor country area and raised in a poor urban neighborhood by a mother who got help from the government. At the age of 32, when her talk show went national, she became a millionaire. Winfrey worked out the details of who owned the TV show and then started her own production business. At age 41, Winfrey had a net worth of $340 million and replaced Bill Cosby as the only African American on the Forbes 400. By 2000, Winfrey was thought to be the richest African American of the 20th century, with a net worth of $800 million. There has been a course at the University of Illinois called “History 298: Oprah Winfrey, the Tycoon” that focuses on Winfrey’s business skills. Winfrey was the highest-paid television entertainer in the United States in 2006. She made an estimated $260 million that year, which was five times what music executive Simon Cowell made. By 2008, Winfrey’s yearly income had grown to $275 million.

Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires called Winfrey the world’s only black billionaire from 2004 to 2006. In 2003, she became the world’s first black woman billionaire. As of 2014, Winfrey was worth more than $2.9 billion and had passed former eBay CEO Meg Whitman as the richest self-made woman in America.

Religious views

Oprah grew up in a Baptist family. In her early years, she spoke at local Southern Baptist Convention churches that were mostly made up of African Americans. These churches were often very religious and knew a lot about evangelical Protestantism, the Black church, and being “born again.”

She was quoted as saying, “I have church with myself: I have church walking down the street. I believe in the God force that lives inside all of us, and once you tap into that, you can do anything.” She also said, “Doubt means don’t. When you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything until you do.”

Acts 17:28 is Oprah’s favorite Bible verse. She has said that she is a Christian.

Oprah goes to an Evangelical church meeting at The Potter’s House Church in Dallas.

Influence

Rankings

The 2010 Kennedy Center Honors were held at the White House.
Winfrey was called “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and TIME, “arguably the most influential woman in the world” by The American Spectator, “one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century” by TIME, and “one of the most influential people” from 2004 to 2011. Winfrey is the only person who has been on the second list more than ten times.

At the end of the 20th century, Life called Winfrey “America’s most powerful woman” and called her the most influential woman and most influential black person of her generation. In 2007, USA Today called her the most influential woman and most influential black person of the last 25 years. Ladies’ Home Journal also put her at the top of their list of the most powerful women in America.

As chairman of Harpo Inc., she was named the most powerful woman in entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter in 2008.[166] In 2014, she was ranked 14th on Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.[167] In 2010, Life magazine named Winfrey one of the 100 people who changed the world, along with Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Winfrey was the only woman on the list who was still alive.

Maureen Dowd, who writes a column, seems to agree with these views. Dowd told The Guardian in 2006, “She is the top alpha female in this country. She has more credibility than the president. Other successful women, such as Hillary Clinton and Martha Stewart, had to be publicly slapped down before they could move forward. Even Condi has had to play the protégé with Bush. None of this happened to Oprah – she is a straight-ahead success story.” I think Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman not just in America, but in the whole world. That means that everyone who joins her program instantly gets a huge boost. I mean, she has a loyal fan base, a good reputation, ability, and she’s done it all on her own to become rich and powerful.”

In 2005, a public poll called The Greatest American named Winfrey the greatest woman in American history. She was ranked No. 9 overall on the list of the greatest Americans. However, polls about Winfrey’s personal popularity have given different results. A November 2003 Gallup poll said that 73% of American adults had a positive view of Winfrey. Another Gallup poll in January 2007 said that 74% of American adults had a positive view of Winfrey, but that number dropped to 6

She was put in the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame in 1989.

“Oprahfication”

The Wall Street Journal came up with the word “Oprahfication,” which means public confession as a form of therapy. Winfrey has been credited by Time magazine with creating a new form of media communication called “rapport talk,” which is different from Phil Donahue’s “report talk.” It eats with us and talks to us in the afternoons, just like a family member. Seeing this contradiction,… Because she cares, she makes people care. That is Winfrey’s genius, and it will be her legacy as the changes she made on her talk show continue to shape our society and our lives. ”

Observers have also noticed the “Oprahfication” of politics, such as “Oprah-style debates” and Bill Clinton being called “the man who brought Oprah-style psychobabble and teary confessions to politics.” Newsweek said: “Every time a politician lets his lip quiver or a cable anchor “emotes” on TV, they nod to the cult of confession that Oprah helped create.”

The November 1988 issue of Ms. said, “In a society where being fat is taboo, she made it in a medium that worships thinness and celebrates a bland, white-bread prettiness of body and personality. […] But Winfrey made fat sexy, elegant, and damn near beautiful with her drop-dead wardrobe, easy body language, and cheerful sensuality.”

What LGBT people think of daytime talk shows

Phil Donahue is credited with starting the tabloid talk show genre, but Winfrey popularized and changed it with her warmth, intimacy, and personal confessions. Her success at popularizing the tabloid talk show genre led to the rise of Ricki Lake, The Jenny Jones Show, and The Jerry Springer Show, among others. With the help of tabloid talk shows like Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones, Oprah, and Geraldo, people outside of the sexual mainstream are now in American living rooms almost every day of the week. Gamson says that this has made alternative sexual orientations and identities more acceptable in mainstream society.

In “The Puppy Episode” of the show Ellen in April 1997, Winfrey played the therapist to whom the character and the real Ellen DeGeneres came out as lesbians.

“What Oprah Does”

The power of Winfrey’s opinions and endorsement to influence public opinion, especially consumer purchasing choices, has been dubbed “the Oprah Effect”. The effect has been documented or alleged in domains as diverse as book sales, beef markets, and election voting. Late in 1996,[185] Winfrey introduced the Oprah’s Book Club segment to her television show. The segment focused on new books and classics and often brought obscure novels to popular attention. The book club became such a powerful force that whenever Winfrey introduced a new book as her book-club selection, it instantly became a best-seller; for example, when she selected the classic John Steinbeck novel East of Eden, it soared to the top of the book charts. Being recognized by Winfrey often means a million additional book sales for an author. In Reading with Oprah: The Book Club that Changed America (2005), Kathleen Rooney describes Winfrey as “a serious American intellectual who pioneered the use of electronic media, specifically television and the Internet, to take reading – a decidedly non-technological and highly individual act – and highlight its social elements and uses in such a way to motivate millions of erstwhile non-readers to pick up books.”

When author Jonathan Franzen’s book was selected for the Book Club, he reportedly “cringed” and said selected books tend to be “schmaltzy”.[187] After James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces was found to contain fabrications in 2006, Winfrey confronted him on her show over the breach of trust. In 2009, Winfrey apologized to Frey for the public confrontation.[188] During a show about mad cow disease with Howard Lyman (aired on April 16, 1996), Winfrey said she was stopped cold from eating another burger. Texas cattlemen sued her and Lyman in early 1998 for “false defamation of perishable food” and “business disparagement,” claiming that Winfrey’s remarks sent cattle prices tumbling, costing beef producers $11 million. Winfrey was represented by attorney Chip Babcock and, on February 26, after a two-month trial in an Amarillo, Texas, court, a jury found Winfrey and Lyman were not liable for damages.[189][190] During the lawsuit, Winfrey hired Phil McGraw’s company Courtroom Sciences, Inc. to help her analyze and read the jury.[191] Winfrey’s ability to launch other successful talk shows such as Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, and Rachael Ray has also been cited as examples of “The Oprah Effect”.

Politics

Matthew Baum and Angela Jamison did an experiment to test their theory that “politically ignorant people who watch soft news are more likely to vote consistently than politically ignorant people who don’t watch soft news.” They found that low-awareness people who watch soft news shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show are 14% more likely to vote consistently than low-awareness people who only watch hard news.

Winfrey goes on the campaign road with Barack and Michelle Obama on December 10, 2007.
Winfrey states she is a political independent who has “earned the right to think for myself and to vote for myself”. She endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. On September 25, 2006, Winfrey made her first endorsement of Obama for president on Larry King Live, the first time she endorsed a political candidate running for office. Two economists estimate that Winfrey’s endorsement was worth over a million votes in the Democratic primary race and that without it, Obama would have lost the nomination.[200] Winfrey held a fundraiser for Obama on September 8, 2007, at her Santa Barbara estate. In December 2007, Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The Columbia, South Carolina, event on December 9, 2007, drew a crowd of nearly 30,000, the largest for any political event of 2007. An analysis by two economists at the University of Maryland, College Park estimated that Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for between 420,000 and 1,600,000 votes for Obama in the Democratic primary alone, based on a sample of states that did not include Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas, or Alaska. The results suggest that in the sampled states, Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for the difference in the popular vote between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, reported being so impressed by Winfrey’s endorsement that he considered offering Winfrey Obama’s vacant senate seat, describing Winfrey as “the most instrumental person in electing Barack Obama president,” with “a voice larger than all 100 senators combined”. Winfrey responded by stating that although she was absolutely not interested, she did feel she could be a senator. The Topps trading card company memorialized Oprah’s involvement in the campaign by featuring her on a card in a set commemorating Obama’s road to the White House.

In April 2014, Winfrey spoke for more than 20 minutes at a fundraiser in Arlington, Virginia, for Lavern Chatman, a candidate in a primary to nominate a Democratic Party candidate for election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Chatman was a candidate in a primary to nominate a Democratic Party candidate for election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Winfrey went to the event even though it had been reported that Chatman had been found guilty in 2001 for

Winfrey supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and called Donald Trump a “demagogue.” In 2018, she campaigned door-to-door for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and gave $500,000 to the March for Our Lives student demonstration for gun control in the United States.

Winfrey has been the subject of rumors in the media that she might run for president herself. This was especially true in the run-up to the 2020 election, when some said she was actively considering running for the Democratic nomination. Winfrey eventually denied any plans to run for president, saying in 2018 that it was “humbling” that people thought she could run the country, but she “wouldn’t be able to do it.” It’s not a good way to make money. It would kill me.”[212] Winfrey said she would publicly back a candidate in the 2020 Democratic primaries, but she didn’t end up doing that. She did, however, campaign for Joe Biden in the general election.

Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, came to the United States in early 2018. Winfrey met with him then.

In 2023, Winfrey spoke at Moore’s inauguration.

In the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate election, Winfrey backed Democrat John Fetterman over Republican Mehmet Oz, whose show she promoted.  In the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial election, she backed Baltimore author Wes Moore in the Democratic primary, co-hosting a virtual fundraiser for him in June. Winfrey later attended and spoke at Moore’s inauguration as governor on January 18, 2023.

Winfrey started OWN Your Vote in 2022. It is a nonpartisan group dedicated to voter registration and a get-out-the-vote campaign aimed at giving Black women the tools and resources they need to vote in the November election. Their partners include Advancement Project, African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Color of Change, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The King Center, The Lawyers’ Committee, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Action Network, National Bar

Spiritual leadership

In 2000, the NAACP gave her the Spingarn Medal. In 2002, Christianity Today published an article called “The Church of O” that said Winfrey had become an influential spiritual leader. “Since 1994, when she left traditional talk-show fare for more edifying content, and 1998, when she started ‘Change Your Life TV,’ Oprah’s most important role has become that of a spiritual leader,” the article said. To her more than 22 million mostly female viewers, she has become a “postmodern priestess” and a “icon of church-free spirituality.” Marcia Z. Nelson wrote the same thing in her book The Gospel According to Oprah.

In 1998, Winfrey started a talk with Gary Zukav, an American spiritual teacher who has been on her show 35 times. Winfrey has said that she keeps a copy of Zukav’s book The Seat of the Soul next to her bed because it is one of her favorites.

On the season premiere of Winfrey’s 13th season, Roseanne Barr told Winfrey “you’re the African Mother Goddess of us all” inspiring much enthusiasm from the studio audience. The animated series Futurama alluded to her spiritual influence by suggesting that “Oprahism” is a mainstream religion in 3000 AD. Twelve days after the September 11 attacks, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani asked Winfrey to serve as host of a Prayer for America service at New York City’s Yankee Stadium, which was attended by former president Bill Clinton and New York senator Hillary Clinton. Leading up to the U.S.-led 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, less than a month after the September 11 attacks, Winfrey aired a controversial show called “Islam 101” in which she portrayed Islam as a religion of peace, calling it “the most misunderstood of the three major religions”. In 2002, George W. Bush invited Winfrey to join a US delegation that included adviser Karen Hughes and Condoleezza Rice, planning to go to Afghanistan to celebrate the return of Afghan girls to school. The “Oprah strategy” was designed to portray the War on Terror in a positive light; however, when Winfrey refused to participate, the trip was postponed.

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Ben Shapiro of Townhall.com wrote, “Oprah Winfrey is the most important woman in America. She chooses what goes on The New York Times Best Seller lists. Her touchy-feely style makes 14 million people watch her show every day. But Oprah is much more than just a cultural force—she’s also a dangerous political force, a woman whose views on the most important issues of the day are unpredictable and changeable.” In 2006, Winfrey recalled such controversies: “I once did a show called “Is War the Only Answer?” I’ve never gotten more hate mail in my life, like letters that say, “Go back to Africa.” I was called un-American for even asking the question.” Filmmaker Michael Moore came to Winfrey’s defense, praising her for sharing antiwar footage that no other media would show and begging her to run for president.

In February 2003, Winfrey did a series in which she showed clips of people from all over the world pleading with America not to go to war. In several East Coast markets, this series was interrupted by network broadcasts of a press conference where President George W. Bush and Colin Powell made the case for war.

In 2007, Winfrey began to endorse the self-help program The Secret. The Secret claims that people can change their lives through positive thoughts or ‘vibrations’, which will then cause them to attract more positive vibrations that result in good things happening to them. Peter Birkenhead of Salon magazine argued that this idea is pseudoscience and psychologically damaging, as it trivializes important decisions and promotes a quick-fix material culture, and suggests Winfrey’s promotion of it is irresponsible given her influence. In 2007, skeptic and magician James Randi accused Winfrey of being deliberately deceptive and uncritical in how she handles paranormal claims on her show. In 2008, Winfrey endorsed author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, which sold several million extra copies after being selected for her book club. During a Webinar class, in which she promoted the book, Winfrey stated “God is a feeling experience and not a believing experience. If your religion is a believing experience, […] then that’s not really God.” Frank Pastore, a Christian radio talk show host on KKLA, was one of many Christian leaders who criticized Winfrey’s views. He said, “If she’s a Christian, she’s an ignorant one, because Christianity is incompatible with New Age thought.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) named Winfrey the 2008 Person of the Year for using her fame and listening audience to help the less fortunate, including animals. PETA praised Winfrey for using her talk show to expose horrifying cases of animal cruelty in puppy mills and on factory farms. Winfrey also used the show to talk about the cruelty-free vegan diet she tried.

Winfrey filming in Denmark in 2009

In 2009, Winfrey filmed a series of interviews in Denmark that showed its people to be the happiest in the world. In 2010, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News criticized these shows for promoting a left-wing society. In 2016, Winfrey chose 100 people for the SuperSoul 100 list of “innovators and visionaries who are aligned on a mission to move humanity forward.”

Winfrey said that if you use the N-word around her, you can’t be her friend. I always think of the people who were hanging from a tree and heard that as their last word. ”

Fan group

The most people watched The Oprah Winfrey Show during the 1991–92 season, when about 13.1 million U.S. viewers watched each day. By 2003, the number of daily viewers had dropped to 7.4 million. Ratings briefly went back up to about 9 million in 2005, but then dropped again to about 7.3 million in 2008, even though it was still the most-watched talk show.

In 2008, Winfrey’s show aired in 140 countries around the world and was seen by an estimated 46 million people in the US every week. According to the Harris poll, Winfrey was America’s favorite TV personality in 1998, 2000, 2002–2006, and 2009. She was especially popular with women, Democrats, political moderates, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Southern Americans, and East Coast Americans.

Winfrey is becoming more and more popular in the Arab world. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that an Arab satellite channel based its entire schedule on reruns of her show because it was attracting record numbers of female viewers in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, the New York Times reported that The Oprah Winfrey Show, with Arabic subtitles, was shown twice a weekday on MBC 4.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JUNE 30: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during ‘From the Page to the Stage and Beyond: A Discussion of the nearly 40-Year Legacy and Impact of The Color Purple’ during the 2023 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on June 30, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images FOR ESSENCE)

Philanthropy

Winfrey meets people who had to leave New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina and are staying temporarily at the Reliant center in Houston.
Winfrey was the first black person to make the list of the 50 most giving Americans in 2004. She stayed on the list until 2010, and by 2012, she had given about $400 million to educational causes.

As of 2012, Winfrey had also given more than 400 scholarships to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Winfrey received the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 2002 Emmy Awards for services to television and film.

Winfrey gave $12 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in 2013. Later that same year, President Barack Obama gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Oprah’s Angel Network

In 1998, Winfrey started a charity called Oprah’s Angel Network. The charity raised more than $80 million and gave grants to nonprofit organizations all over the world. Jon Bon Jovi gave $1 million to the charity, and Winfrey paid for all administrative costs herself, so all of the money went to charity programs.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Oprah set up the Oprah Angel Network Katrina registry, which raised more than $11 million for relief efforts. Winfrey herself gave $10 million to the cause. Homes were built in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama before the one-year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

South Africa

In 2004, Winfrey and her crew went to South Africa to film an episode of her show called “Oprah’s Christmas Kindness.” In the episode, Winfrey talked about how poverty and AIDS hurt young children. During the 21-day trip, Winfrey and her crew went to schools and shelters in poor areas and gave Christmas gifts to 50,000 children, including dolls for the girls, soccer balls for the boys, and school supplies. Winfrey asked fans throughout the show to give money to Oprah’s Angel Network, which helps poor and AIDS-affected children in Africa. Only because of that show, people all over the world gave more than $7 million. Winfrey put $40 million and some of her own time into starting the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley on Klip, South Africa, which is south of Johannesburg. The school, which is on 22 acres, started in January 2007 with 150 students and will eventually have 450. It has modern classrooms, science and computer labs, a library, a theater, and a beauty salon. Nelson Mandela praised Winfrey for being a good person even though she had a hard childhood. Critics said the school was for the rich and was too fancy.Winfrey denied the reports, saying, “If you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty brings out the beauty in you.”[272] Winfrey, who has no real children left, told the girls at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls how she felt about them.[273]Winfrey teaches a class at the school through a satellite connection.

Bibliography
By Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey, Oprah (1996). A Portrait of Oprah Winfrey Through Her Own Words: The Uncommon Wisdom of Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey (1998). Ken Regan took the photos for Journey to Beloved.
Oprah Winfrey (1998). Make the Connection: Ten Steps to a Better Body and a Better Life, which he wrote with Bob Greene, is a good example of this.
Oprah Winfrey, 2000. The Soul and Spirit of a Superstar: Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey, Oprah (2014). What I’m sure of
Winfrey, Oprah (2016). Mr. or Ms. Just Right, which B. Grace and I wrote together.
Oprah Winfrey (2017). Food, health, and joy
Oprah Winfrey (2017). The Wisdom of Sundays: How Super Soul Conversations Can Change Your Life
Oprah Winfrey (2017). The Wisdom Journal is a companion to The Wisdom of Sundays.
Oprah Winfrey’s year is 2019. The Path Made Clear: Finding the Direction and Purpose of Your Life
Oprah Winfrey, 2021. What Happened to You? : Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing was written with B. Perry.
Concerning Oprah Winfrey

Mair, George (2001). The Real Story of Oprah Winfrey. Citadel Press. ISBN 1-55972-250-9.
Irene Cooper, in 2007. Oprah Winfrey. Viking.

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