Oprah Gail Winfrey

Essay by mckA, December 2002

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Oprah Gail Winfrey

"Talk show host" is the simplest but wholly inadequate description of Oprah Winfrey, who rose from humble origins to reach the highest tier of media success. Her Chicago-based talk show, in national syndication since 1986, brushed aside veterans like Phil Donohue to become the top-rated in the country. Winfrey leveraged that success into an acting career, earning an Academy Award nomination for her first role in "The Color Purple." Every selection for her talk show's "book club" has become an instant bestseller. She's also launched "O, the Oprah Magazine," and the cable network Oxygen. It all adds up to a personal fortune that Forbes estimates over $900 million, and a media influence that no other woman, and few other people, can match. Oprah is considered to be one of the100 most influential and powerful people of the 20th century.

Oprah Gail Winfrey was born January 1, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to an unwed teen parents.

Oprah is actually a misspelling of Orpah, a bible name. She spent her childhood in extreme poverty her bible thumping grandmother's farm. Oprah learned to read and write by age 3. When Oprah was a pre-teen she moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother Vernita Lee. In her own house she was sexually molested many times by male relatives. Oprah spent her early teens in and out of trouble. When she was 14 she gave birth to a premature baby and it died. She then moved in with her father Vernon Winfrey in Nashville, whom was a barber and a businessman. Vernon gave discipline, had a strict curfew, and stressed the value of education. Oprah then turned her life around. In high school, Oprah was Student Council President. She was also selected to represent her high school as outstanding...