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Before Women Had Wings (1997)

A black woman helps a white girl cope with her father's suicide and escape her alcoholic mother's abuse.


Lloyd Kramer
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Oprah Winfrey ... Zora Williams
Ellen Barkin ... Glory Marie Jackson
Tina Majorino ... Avocet Abigail 'Bird' Jackson
Julia Stiles ... Phoebe Jackson
John Savage ... Billy Jackson
Burt Young ... Louis Ippolito
William Lee Scott ... Hank Jackson
Louis Crugnali ... L.J. Ippolito
David Hart ... Sheriff


Alcoholic Billy reflects on his country-music career that never happened and beats his wife Glory Marie, also a drunk. Grown-up son Hank has moved away, but teenaged Phoebe and sensitive nine-year-old Bird have to live in the bleak alcoholic atmosphere. Problems escalate after a tragic event. The three females move into a trailer where the girls are subjected to a torrent of abuse from their mom. Fortunately, benign Miss Zora appears like a guardian angel to lift their spirits. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

alcoholism | child abuse | 1960s | See All (3) »


One of them brought her into this world. The other gave her life.




TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

2 November 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings See more »

Filming Locations:

Ojai, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Harpo Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Ring of Fire
Written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore
Performed by Johnny Cash
Courtesy of Columbia Records
See more »

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User Reviews

It sucked!
14 September 2006 | by tbwuSee all my reviews

I was flicking through the channels and I landed on the Oxygen network. I saw the title Oprah Winfrey presents, "Before Women Had Wings". I had never heard of the movie. I decided to watch it and it sucked! The movie was awful, just like the movie "Beloved"! It was a total waste of film and the ending, well there was no ending. The author of this book must really be disappointed. It was a waste of my time and eye muscles. I like Oprah don't get me wrong, but her acting skills need improvement. I'm tired of seeing Oprah play old women! She needs help in choosing the right parts. It was just a hot mess! If Oprah is not going to give it her all like in the "Color Purple",then she needs to go sit down somewhere!

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