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Oprah Winfrey Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (76)  | Personal Quotes (30)  | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, USA
Birth NameOrpah Gail Winfrey
Nicknames O
Deepak Oprah
Lady O
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman.

While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African-American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, family. She was born in an economically troubled neighborhood, and then raised by her single, teenaged mother in the city of Milwaukee. Named after a biblical character, Orpah had a name no one could pronounce, so her family and friends starting calling her Oprah. Shortly after Oprah's birth, her mother left and traveled north. Oprah was then raised by her grandmother, Hattie Mae (Presley) Lee. She lived in terrible conditions, and her only friends were farm animals, though even at that age Oprah had a very imaginative mind. She would frequently give the animals dramatic parts and included them in games. This was perhaps where she had gotten the craze for acting, later to be seen in legendary masterpieces such as The Color Purple (1985). Due to her grandmother's values, Oprah had religion and God instilled in her at a very young age. Because of her grandmother, Oprah knew how to read and write before the age of three. She would recite poems during church, and verses from the Bible. Soon, the church and the entire neighborhood knew she had a gift and was nicknamed "The Little Speaker". This soon prompted her to become a woman with a strong perspective, which millions across the world later wanted to have insight on, and prepared her for The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986).

Due to her ability to read and write before the age of three, when enrolled in school she was often promoted several grades ahead of her age. At the age of six, Oprah went to live with her mother Vernita. Vernita worked in her maid job often, so Oprah was frequently left alone at home with her cousins. Due to her busy mother, she was paid little attention to at home, prompting her to started misbehaving and talking back to her mother. Vernita then decided it was best Oprah live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. While living in Tennessee, she found out her mother was pregnant, and her mother then requested for her to come back to Milwaukee to live with her mother and half-sister. When Oprah was nine, she was raped by her nineteen year old cousin, who was baby sitting her. This wasn't he only time she was sexually abused, later being abused by her cousin, a family friend, her mother's boyfriend, and her uncle, during her stay in Milwaukee. Toward all these incidents, she never told a soul because the predators swore her to silence. At the age of thirteen, Oprah ran away from home after her years of abuse, and at the age of fourteen became pregnant with a sick son who died shortly after birth. Oprah's mother sent her to live once again with her father in Nashville. He was very strict and made education the number-one priority for Oprah.

Oprah attended Nashville East High School, when she wasn't precisely certain toward what she wanted to do, but knew it involved speaking or drama. Oprah was also elected school president and met with president Richard Nixon, apart of public speaking classes in her high-school. During the last year of high-school, Oprah was rehearsing with her drama class when a local radio station, WVOL spotted her and asked her if she would like to read on radio. She was then given a job reading the news on the radio. Oprah soon entered a public-speaking contest, where the grand prize was a scholarship to Tennessee State University. Oprah won the contest and received a scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.

Oprah during her college education was offered a job as a co-anchor on a CBS television station, but declined several times before she was convinced by her speech professor that it may be the ultimate step to launch her career. Oprah wanted to find work outside of Nashville, and was soon offered a job in Baltimore, Maryland. The job offer came up a few months before her graduation, and she had to choose between the job and graduating, so decided to choose the job in Maryland as the offer was very tempting. There, she wasn't a very good reporter and was shortly fired. Oprah's boss set her up as a talk show host on a morning talk show called People Are Talking (1978). Immediately after the first show, Oprah knew this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She carried the talk show for seven years and then decided it was time to move on.

In 1981, Oprah sent recorded tapes of the show to a talk-show in Chicago called A.M. Chicago. They immediately offered her the job and in September 1985, she changed the name of the show to "The Oprah Winfrey Show". The first broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show was on September 8, 1986 and broadcast nationally. It first targeted woman, however soon due to the controversial and intriguing topics Oprah brought on to the show it appealed to people of all genders, ethnicities, and ages. Oprah promoted books and movie releases, and helped broaden the national point of view. From its first broadcast, The Oprah Winfrey Show, went on to receive multiple Daytime Emmy Awards and several other prestigious awards. Winfrey expanded the show and started releasing a monthly magazine which was called O: The Oprah Magazine in 2000. The series finale of the Oprah Winfrey Show, in its twenty-fifth season, aired on May 25, 2011, concluding a segment of her career which she used to inspire millions, and help them lead a better life.

Oprah made her debut as a film actress in the period drama film The Color Purple (1985). She played a troubled housewife named Sofia, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This movie went on to become a Broadway musical. In 1998, Oprah starred in the film Beloved (1998), which she also produced. She played the character Sethe, who was a former slave. Winfrey has also acted in several other films, such as Charlotte's Web (2006), Bee Movie (2007), The Princess and the Frog (2009), and A Wrinkle in Time (2018).

Oprah received an Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1998. In 2011, Oprah received a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Oprah Winfrey will forever be remembered as an innovator through the landmarks she has made, becoming the first female African-American to host a television show, inspiring millions of people across the world, discussing significant issues such as equal rights toward genders, racism, poverty, and others. She is seen as an icon, someone who paved the way for others to become successful.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Peter Sean

Trade Mark (3)

Her self-deprecating humor
Her repeated dramatic weight loss and gain
Often sings her words when presenting.

Trivia (76)

She permanently withdrew herself and her show from consideration for a Daytime Emmy Award after being awarded the Lifetime Achievement (1998). She was quoted as saying, "After you've achieved it for a lifetime, what else is there?".
In addition to being a news anchor on WJZ-TV13 in Baltimore, Maryland, Winfrey was co-host with Richard Sher (a reporter) on a local talk show called "People are Talking" on that station.
Attended and graduated from East Nashville High School in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was voted most popular. [1971]
Was sued by Texas cattlemen who claimed that Oprah defamed beef on her talk show. The case went to trial, causing Oprah to have to relocate her show's production to Amarillo, Texas, for the duration of the trial. She was found not liable.
She was ranked first in Entertainment Weekly's 1998 list of the most powerful people in show business, but dropped to sixth in the 1999 list. Still, she was the highest ranking performer, as well as the highest ranking woman, and the only African-American to make the list.
Attended and graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, with a degree in Speech and Performing Arts. [1987]
Is the first woman in history to own and produce her own talk show.
Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1985" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 37.
Announced that Oprah would receive $130,000,000 for continuing her talk show through the 1999-2000 television season. [September 1997]
Chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. [1997]
Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. [1994]
(Fall 1999) She and Stedman Graham are teaching "Dynamics of Leadership" class at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Given an honorary National Book Award for her "influential contribution to reading and books". [October 1999]
Awarded (last) 50th anniversary medal by the National Book Foundation in New York City. [November 1999]
Her immensely popular television talk show is a Harpo Production. Harpo is Oprah spelled backwards. Harpo is also the name of a character in The Color Purple (1985) (Oprah's film debut) played by Willard E. Pugh.
Gave birth to a baby boy when she was just age 14. The baby passed away after two weeks, from complications of being born two months premature.
Was instrumental in the passage of the Oprah Bill, in the early 1990s. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and is aimed at stopping child abuse.
Raised in abject poverty, she received her first pair of shoes at age 6 (1960). She learned to read at age 2½. In fact, when it was time for her to start kindergarten, she wrote a note to her teacher insisting she should be in first grade. The teacher agreed and after finishing that grade she was then skipped to third grade.
(1986-present) Partner is Stedman Graham.
She and her former personal trainer, Bob Greene, announced they are buying seven shoreline lots from Getty Family Trust to build several homes, including one on 102-acre lot for Oprah. They plan to put conservation first and keep site development low key. [April 2002]
Ranked #1 Pop Culture Icon on VH1's The Greatest: 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons (2003), beating out Superman and Elvis.
Net worth is estimated to be US$1.1 billion. [2004]
Purchased a house at 3330 Radcliffe Avenue, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This superb 11,000 sq ft waterfront property was on sale for Cdn $18 million, at the time British Columbia's most expensive house, but she paid Cdn $17 million (US$13 million). [June 2004]
Natural daughter of Vernon Winfrey by Vernita Lee (born 2 May 1935).
According to Forbes magazine, her 2005 net worth is $1.3 billion. She was the first African-American women to make the list of billionaires (2003).
Was a guest at friends Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger's star-studded wedding
Is the first African-American woman to become a billionaire in American history.
After years of publicly criticizing David Letterman's late-night television show, Late Show with David Letterman (1993), she and Letterman finally settled their differences when she agreed to appear on the December 1, 2005 episode, during which time she was to be in New York to promote her musical of The Color Purple (1985). During the Superbowl of 2007, they appeared in an advertisement together for Letterman's show. In the ad, they sat together on a couch watching the Superbowl, wearing opposing team jerseys. [2005]
Has a cameo playing herself in Throw Momma from the Train (1987). In a "clip" from her show, she interviews a writer (the ex-wife of Billy Crystal's character) whose plagiarized and embellished "life story" is at the top of the bestseller lists (foreshadowing the James Frey controversy twenty years later).
Ranked #3 on the annual Forbes magazine Celebrity 100 list. [2006]
Collapsed from heat exhaustion during a recent visit to her hometown of Kosciusko, Mississippi. [October 2006]
Winfrey's name was originally "Orpah", after the biblical figure in the book of Ruth. Several different stories allude to the fact that either a misspelling on her birth certificate or a struggle with the pronunciation of her name eventually led to "Oprah" being adopted as her given name.
A DNA test on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Oprah's genetic ancestry is 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian (which may be Native American markers). Her African genetic roots include Kpelle, Bamileke and Zambian.
Appearing on the annual Time 100 list, Time magazine's ranking of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, in 2007 again, she is the only person who has been on that list five times. [May 2007]
Her two-year-old golden retriever, Gracie, passed away after accidentally choking to death on another dog's ball. [July 2007]
In 2006, she gave $58,300,000 to charity to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, Oprah's Angel Network, and other groups.
In 2006, she earned an estimated $260 million in salary from her various interests including syndication, cable television, and print magazines.
Thanked by Shawn Colvin in the liner notes of her album "A Few Small Repairs" (1996).
Had two half-siblings from her mother. Her half-brother passed away from AIDS (December 1988) and her half-sister, Patricia Lee, passed away under mysterious circumstances (2003).
Ranked #1 in the 2008 Forbes The Celebrity 100 list.
She received an honorary doctorate from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and was the commencement speaker. [2009]
Is the world's first black billionairess with an estimated worth of $2.3 billion as of 2009.
Her personal chef until 2007 was Art Smith.
Recipient of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors; other recipients that year were Jerry Herman, Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard and Bill T. Jones.
With ratings at an estimated 6.5 million viewers per day, her show was the most popular talk show in the world.
Aunt of Chrishaunda Lee Perez, the daughter of her deceased half-sister Patricia. Oprah walked Chrishaundra down the aisle at her wedding (2005).
Her idol is Diana Ross. Her favorite album is "Graceland" (1986) by Paul Simon. She was interviewed for the documentary about the album Under African Skies (2012).
Attended Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin for a short period of time in her teenage years.
Over the 25-year run of her daytime TV talk show, Winfrey never once missed a day through absenteeism.
When Oprah's talk show went independent for the first time, her staff consisted of four personnel including herself. By 2011, her empire had expanded to 464 personnel.
Oprah's broadcasting career began in the late 1960s as a teenage intern at WVOL, an African-American radio station in Nashville, Tennessee.
Received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award - a special Academy Award for her charity work - on November 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Teenage crushes were Beatle Paul McCartney and the Jackson 5's Jackie Jackson.
Ever since she was 15 years old, Oprah has kept a journal of every day of her life.
Since the inception of the "Book Club" segment on her show, an estimated 30 million books were sold as a direct result of the worldwide publicity.
Oprah has become the first African-American woman to own a cable network. It is called OWN, which stands for Oprah Winfrey Network.
Her support of Barack Obama helped him to become the first Black US president.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. [2013]
Subject of the song "Oprah Winfrey" by Wesley Willis.
Longtime friend with Joan Rivers. Winfrey attended her funeral, when the comedienne passed away on September 7, 2014.
Good friends with Tyler Perry.
She is left-handed.
Last person to interview Liberace on television before his death - The Oprah Winfrey Show: Episode dated 25 December 1986 (1986).
Her five dogs: Luke and Layla (golden retrievers), Sadie (cocker spaniel) and Sunny and Lauren (springer spaniels).
Best friends with Gayle King and Quincy Jones.
Was invited to the premiere of Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994). She walked out of the showing in disgust due to the film's gore, specifically the scene where Lestat is bleeding profusely after having his throat slit by Claudia.
One of her favorite films is Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).
Owns a production company called Harpo Inc.
Her mentors were the late Maya Angelou and the late Joan Rivers.
Refers to her home as "The Promised Land", is 42 acres, cost $52 million, six bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, two theatre, a tennis court, ten fire places, a wine cellar, a man made lake, and a tea house.
Due to Oprah's immense popularity on television, audiences tended to think that she was the first African-American woman to host her own TV talk show, when that distinction actually belonged to Della Reese with her short-lived Della (1969).
Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Award ceremonies was presented to her by Reese Witherspoon (Beverly Hilton Los Angeles / January 7, 2018). [2018]
Is mentioned by name in Travie McCoy's 2010 song "Billionaire" (feat. Bruno Mars).
Attended the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle bedecked in a pale pink Stella McCartney dress topped with a flowered hat by Irish designer Philip Treacy (May 19, 2018 / Windsor Castle, UK).

Personal Quotes (30)

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the Limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the Limo breaks down.
All my life I have always known I was born to greatness.
The essential question is not, "How busy are you?' but 'What are you busy at?' 'Are you doing what fulfills you?'
What matters is how you feel inside, because feeling beautiful on the inside is key to looking good.
The expectation of my life was that I might be able to work for some good white folks. Now I got some good white folks working for me.
Some women have a weakness for shoes... I can go barefoot if necessary. I have a weakness for books.
My philosophy is that doing your best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
[on Natasha Richardson's tragic death] Just want to say how deeply saddened I am, we all are, by the sudden passing of actress Natasha Richardson yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Liam Neeson, their two sons, the rest of their family and friends. Yet another reminder of how fleeting life can be and how precious. We need to value every moment.
[part of her 2009 commencement speech at Duke University] Of all the wonderful things that have happened including getting a doctorate, an honorary doctorate from Duke, what really makes me feel successful is being able to use my life in service to someone else. And I will have to say, it is a wonderful thing to have a beautiful home or homes, a wonderful thing to have a beautiful home which just escaped the fire in Santa Barbara. And it is really fantastic to have your own jet and anybody who says it isn't is lying to you. The jet thing is really good. But you haven't completed the circle of success unless you can help somebody else move forward.
[on personal power] I have a lot of things to prove to myself. One is that I can live my life fearlessly.
[on strategy] Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
Having the best things is no substitute for having the best life.
Reaching your true potential is more than an ideal. It's the ultimate goal.
When the odds are against you and you have the depth of clarity to listen to your own instincts and follow what is true for you, you may not become a Jay-Z, but you will become the best thing that you can be.
I'm a firm believer that anyone can have a breakthrough right in her own backyard.
No matter where you are on your journey, that's exactly where you need to be. The next road is always up.
Be thankful for what you have; you will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
The best advice touches the part of you that knows it's true.
[on Shondra Rhimes] Shondra is a storyteller for our times. Courageous in her approach to the work, she's never played by other people's rules. She creates an assemblage of worldly foibles and aspirations. She understands that every dream is valuable and every identity deserves inspection through the looking-glass of television. She knows the power of reflection and wields that power with grace and generosity.
[on performing in The Butler (2013)] I'm a historian of my own history - of African American history. I believe that when you know who you are you have the ability to move forward, not only with your own strength but with the strength of your entire ancestry. I am the daughter of a maid, and my grandmother was a maid, and her mother was a maid, and her mother was a slave. I feel validated by the war that the butler and his entire generation fought in their own way. And the fact that there's another generation of freedom writers and freedom fighters, because of evolution and growth and change, decided they weren't going to do that anymore. Both wars were necessary for their time.
I feel I have made a living being myself. I've made a career out of my own authenticity. I don't have one face I present to the white world or to the black world. I talk to my dogs the same way I'm speaking right now.
Whatever your dreams, ideas or rejects, we plant a seed, nurture it - and then reap the fruits of our labors. When in doubt, be bold!
The future is full of possibility, whether you make one tiny change - or a whole invigorating, thrilling, inspiring bunch of them.
What kind of woman do I want to be? One who willingly gives and receives love. One who is compassionate. Understanding. Positive. Forgiving. A woman who makes responsible choices. I want to live with a heart open to life.
Do the thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.
Every day brings tremendous possibility - a chance to live more fully, love more deeply and learn something new.
[on Colson Whirehead and 'The Underground Railroad'] Colson has a vision about what it means to make art. He didn't just write a historical novel about slavery and courage and the beating heart of freedom. Although the struggle continues and our challenges are not behind us, the brilliance of his vision is that he reminds us that, like his heroine Cora, we can never give up hope, can never stop trying.
I think if I had been born with a silver spoon, I would still be sitting there sucking on it.

Salary (2)

The Color Purple (1985) approx. $35,000
The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986) $315,000,000 per year (2010)

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