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Oprah Winfrey Biography



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Recognized as one of the most influential women in the world, Oprah Gail Winfrey has changed the face of mass media for women everywhere. Having won many Emmy Awards for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah is also a magazine publisher (O Magazine), a book critic as well as a well-known philanthropist. She will be remembered as the world’s only black billionaire since 2004.

Her childhood began in Mississippi in a small town of Kosciusko. Her parents were Southern Baptist and named her Oprah after the book of Ruth. Her parents were very young and unmarried. Her mother was a housekeeper, while her father was a coal miner. He later worked as a barber and ran for city councilman. As a teenager, she rebelled and ran the streets and began pregnant at 14. She lost the baby shortly after it was delivered. Because of this behavior, her mother sent her to live with her father who was strict in keeping her disciplined in her studies. She was well versed in speech and used those skills to win judges over in the Miss Black Tennessee competition, in which she won at age 18.

After graduation, she worked in various local media markets and began the youngest and first black anchorwoman at Nashville’s TV station, WLAC-TV. She later moved to Baltimore in order to co-host the news at 6 o’clock and later was recruited to a local talk show in 1978. After relocating to Chicago in 1983 to host a morning talk-show, AM Chicago, she made the show soar through the rankings, beating out Donahue. They expanded the show to a hour, changed the named to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and began officially broadcasting in 1986.

The show evolved into a less tabloid version in the 90s, where she took time to interview individuals based on various issues within the world. Winfrey recently made a decision to expand her show’s life to 2010-2011. This will make the show nearly 25 years old. Oprah has also been involved in helping to create and cofound the women’s cable channel, Oxygen.

When she’s not working on the show or with Oxygen, she is the founder of Harpo Productions and also Publisher of O Magazine & O At Home. She also has been in various films including the Color Purple and Corrina. She also signed a deal with XM Satellite Radio in 2006 to create a new radio channel, Oprah & Friends. She lives in California with her partner of nearly 20 years, Steadman Graham.