Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, media executive, actress, billionaire, and philanthropist. She is best known as the host of the popular TV program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons from 1986 to 2011. In 2011, Winfrey founded her own TV network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In this article on Zatrun.com, you can find out what you need to know about Oprah Winfrey.
Who is Oprah Winfrey?
Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954, in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her name was originally spelled Orpah on her birth certificate, but people consistently mispronounced it and “Oprah” stuck.
Her mother, Vernita Lee, was a house cleaner and her father was in the Armed Forces when she was born. After Winfrey’s birth, her mother moved north, and Winfrey spent her early childhood in poverty with her grandmother.
At 17, she won a beauty pageant, a live on-air job at an African American radio station, and was accepted into the Tennessee State University where she studied Speech Communication and Performing Arts. At 19, she became the first female African American news anchor in Nashville. She joined WJZ-TV News in Baltimore as a co-anchor, where she also hosted the talk show People Are Talking.
Early Years of Her Career
In 1976, Oprah Winfrey moved to Baltimore, Maryland, to host a TV talk show called People Are Talking. The show became quite popular, and Winfrey hosted it for eight years. However, she was then hired by a Chicago TV channel to host her own morning show, A.M.
Her biggest competitor in Chicago was Phil Donahue. Within a few months, Winfrey’s open, warm-hearted personal style won her 100,000 more viewers than Donahue, taking her show from last place to the number one spot in the ratings.
Oprah knew how to connect with her audience. When she moved to Chicago in 1984, she said that she would redefine the talk show format on Channel 7’s A.M. Chicago and change television forever. The show was later renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, and its first episode aired nationwide on September 8, 1986. Winfrey’s program surpassed Donahue’s national audience, becoming America’s number one daytime talk program and taking Donahue’s place.
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show is a talk show that aired from 1986 to 2011, hosted by Oprah Winfrey. In its early years, the program was classified as a tabloid talk show, which focused on controversial and sensational current events. However, in the mid-1990s, Winfrey began to cover a wider range of topics such as heart disease, geopolitics, spirituality, and meditation.
She also conducted interviews with celebrities on social issues that directly concerned them, such as cancer, charity work, and substance addiction. Her 1993 interview with Michael Jackson drew in over 100 million viewers, making it the most-watched interview in television history.
In 2009, Winfrey announced that she would be ending the show in 2011 when her contract with ABC, the television network that aired the program, ended. She went through with her announcement and bid farewell to her viewers after hosting the show for 25 years.
Her Other Works
Aside from her talk show, Winfrey also produced and starred in the drama mini-series, The Women of Brewster Place (1989), and its short-lived spin-off, Brewster Place. She also served as the president of Harpo Productions, the film and television production company behind The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, The Dr. Oz Show, and many others.
In 1998, Winfrey produced and starred in Beloved, a film based on the Nobel Prize-winning American writer Toni Morrison’s novel. She also appeared in a series of successful animated films, such as Charlotte’s Web, Bee Movie, and The Princess and the Frog.
Winfrey used her talk show as a platform to promote literature. She later launched the Oprah’s Book Club, which turned classics into bestsellers and rekindled America’s reading habits. She also started Oprah Online and released The Oprah Magazine.
The World’s Most Influential Woman
CNN and TIME have described Winfrey as “arguably the most powerful woman in the world.” The American Spectator referred to her as “the world’s undisputed most influential woman” and one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
In 2008, she was named by The Hollywood Reporter as the most powerful woman in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Forbes listed her as the 14th most powerful woman in the world. In 2005, Winfrey was voted the greatest woman in American history as part of a public opinion poll called The Greatest American. She also ranked 9th on the list of Greatest Americans overall.
Throughout her career, Winfrey has accumulated a considerable fortune, turning her hit talk show into a media and business empire. Her involvement in producing films such as The Color Purple, Beloved, and Selma has also contributed to her wealth. According to Forbes, Winfrey currently has a net worth of $2.5 billion, making her the 1199th richest person in the world as of 2023.