She later said that her conception was due to a single sexual encounter and the couple broke up not long after. Winfrey's biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey born c. However, the East Asian markers may, given the imprecision of genetic testing, actually be Native American.
When Winfrey was a child, her grandmother would hit her with a stick when she did not do chores or if she misbehaved in any way. She began to steal money from her mother in an effort to keep up with her free-spending peers, to lie to and argue with her mother, and to go out with older boys. Vernon was strict but encouraging, and made her education a priority. Winfrey became an honors student, was voted Most Popular Girl, and joined her high school speech team at East Nashville High School , placing second in the nation in dramatic interpretation.
Her first job as a teenager was working at a local grocery store. Winfrey's career choice in media would not have surprised her grandmother, who once said that ever since Winfrey could talk, she was on stage. As a child, she played games interviewing her corncob doll and the crows on the fence of her family's property. Winfrey later acknowledged her grandmother's influence, saying it was Hattie Mae who had encouraged her to speak in public and "gave me a positive sense of myself". In , she was removed as co-anchor and worked lower profile positions at the station.
She also hosted the local version of Dialing for Dollars. The first episode aired on January 2, Within months after Winfrey took over, the show went from last place in the ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest-rated talk show in Chicago. The movie critic Roger Ebert persuaded her to sign a syndication deal with King World. Ebert predicted that she would generate 40 times as much revenue as his television show, At the Movies.
Their much-publicized contest was the subject of enormous scrutiny. In a field dominated by white males, she is a black female of ample bulk. As interviewers go, she is no match for, say, Phil Donahue What she lacks in journalistic toughness, she makes up for in plainspoken curiosity, robust humor and, above all empathy. Guests with sad stories to tell are apt to rouse a tear in Oprah's eye They, in turn, often find themselves revealing things they would not imagine telling anyone, much less a national TV audience.
It is the talk show as a group therapy session. And she may know the way to Phil Donahue's jugular. In the mids, Winfrey adopted a less tabloid-oriented format, hosting shows on broader topics such as heart disease, geopolitics, spirituality, and meditation, interviewing celebrities on social issues they were directly involved with, such as cancer, charity work, or substance abuse, and hosting televised giveaways including shows where every audience member received a new car donated by General Motors or a trip to Australia donated by Australian tourism bodies.
As well as hosting and appearing on television shows, Winfrey co-founded the women's cable television network Oxygen. She is also the president of Harpo Productions Oprah spelled backwards. It was scheduled to launch in but was delayed, and actually launched on January 1, The episode was hailed by some as the "television event of the decade" and helped Letterman attract his largest audience in more than 11 years: In an interview with GQ magazine, Ludacris said that Winfrey gave him a "hard time" about his lyrics, and edited comments he made during an appearance on her show with the cast of the film Crash.
He also said that he wasn't initially invited on the show with the rest of the cast. She said she spoke with Ludacris backstage after his appearance to explain her position and said she understood that his music was for entertainment purposes, but that some of his listeners might take it literally. She said that after she made public her support for Obama, she decided that she would not let her show be used as a platform for any of the candidates.
Winfrey added that Palin would make a fantastic guest and that she would love to have her on the show after the election, which she did on November 18, The Alice Walker novel went on to become a Broadway musical which opened in late , with Winfrey credited as a producer.
In October , Winfrey produced and starred in the film Beloved , based on Toni Morrison 's Pulitzer Prize -winning novel of the same name. To prepare for her role as Sethe, the protagonist and former slave, Winfrey experienced a hour simulation of the experience of slavery, which included being tied up and blindfolded and left alone in the woods.
While promoting the movie, co-star Thandie Newton described Winfrey as "a very strong technical actress and it's because she's so smart.
She's got a mind like a razor blade. The made-for-television film was based upon a teleplay by Suzan-Lori Parks and starred Halle Berry in the lead female role. In late , Winfrey's company Harpo Films signed an exclusive output pact to develop and produce scripted series, documentaries, and movies for HBO.
In , Winfrey starred as Mrs. At the announcement of a weight-loss book in , co-authored with her personal trainer Bob Greene, it was said that her undisclosed advance fee had broken the record for the world's highest book advance fee, previously held by the autobiography of former U.
Winfrey publishes the magazine: Within the first 48 hours, two of the featured men were captured. Mehmet Oz , Bob Greene, Dr. Robin Smith, and Marianne Williamson. The channel broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week on XM Radio Channel Winfrey's contract requires her to be on the air 30 minutes a week, 39 weeks a year. Personal life Homes Aerial view of Oprah's Montecito estate Winfrey currently lives on "The Promised Land", her acre ha estate with ocean and mountain views in Montecito, California.
Romantic history Winfrey's high school sweetheart Anthony Otey recalled an innocent courtship that began in Winfrey's senior year of high school, from which he saved hundreds of love notes; Winfrey conducted herself with dignity and as a model student. Winfrey helped get Taylor a job at WVOL, and according to Mair, "did everything to keep him, including literally begging him on her knees to stay with her. A love I will never forget. Biographer Kitty Kelley claims that Tesh split with Winfrey over the pressure of having an interracial relationship.
He stuck with me through the whole demoralizing experience. That man was the most fun romance I ever had.
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 depleted, powerless. At the end, I was down on the floor on my knees groveling and pleading with him". I would be afraid the minute I did it, something really good would happen and I'd miss it. I needed everyone to like me, because I didn't like myself much. So I'd end up with these cruel self-absorbed guys who'd tell me how selfish I was, and I'd say 'Oh thank you, you're so right' and be grateful to them.
Because I had no sense that I deserved anything else. Which is also why I gained so much weight later on. It was the perfect way of cushioning myself against the world's disapproval.
She explained on her show: Self-proclaimed former boyfriend Randolph Cook said they lived together for several months in and did drugs. Chevalier says Winfrey ended the relationship when she met Stedman Graham. They were engaged to be married in November , but the ceremony never took place. Since , 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 target of persistent rumors that they were gay.
So I get why people have to label it—how can you be this close without it being sexual? All my stuff is out there. People think I'd be so ashamed of being gay that I wouldn't admit it? Winfrey negotiated ownership rights to the television program and started her own production company. There has been a course taught at the University of Illinois focusing on Winfrey's business acumen, namely: Oprah Winfrey, the Tycoon". In her early life, she would speak at local, mostly African American congregations of the Southern Baptist Convention that were often deeply religious and familiar with such themes as evangelical Protestantism , the Black church , and being born-again.
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. Winfrey is the only person in the world to have appeared in the latter list on ten occasions. Winfrey was the only living woman to make the list. 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.
None of this happened to Oprah — she is a straight ahead success story. I think Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in the world, not just in America. That's — anybody who goes on her program immediately benefits through the roof. I mean, she has a loyal following; she has credibility; she has talent; and she's done it on her own to become fabulously wealthy and fabulously powerful.
She was ranked No. However, polls estimating Winfrey's personal popularity have been inconsistent. Her highest rating came in  when she was statistically tied with Hillary Clinton for first place. Like a family member, it sits down to meals with us and talks to us in the lonely afternoons. She makes people care because she cares. That is Winfrey's genius, and will be her legacy, as the changes she has wrought in the talk show continue to permeate our culture and shape our lives.
Sociologists such as Vicki Abt criticized tabloid talk shows for redefining social norms. In her book Coming After Oprah: Cultural Fallout in the Age of the TV talk show, Abt warned that the media revolution that followed Winfrey's success was blurring the lines between "normal" and "deviant" behavior.