The life and times of Oprah Winfrey

  • News
  • Sunday, 22 Sep 2013

Find out how it all began for the former talk show queen.


Oprah Gail Winfrey is born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on Jan 29.


Enrolls at Tennessee State University and gets crowned Miss Black Tennessee.

Miss Black Tennessee 1971 Oprah Winfrey


Lands first gig as co-anchor for the evening news on Nashville’s news TV station WTVF-TV, making her the youngest and first African-American female news anchor in the town.


Moves to Chicago to host the morning show, A.M. Chicago. Within a month, the show tops local ratings, and it is later renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show.


Nabs the role of Sofia in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (pic below). Winfrey receives Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. 

Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple


“If there’s one thread running through each show we do, it is the message that you are not alone,” Winfrey says when The Oprah Winfrey Show enters national syndication on Sept 8. In the same year, she reveals she was raped as a child.


Clinches her first Emmy for Best Talk Show. She later withdraws her name for consideration in the Daytime Emmy Awards in 1999 after receiving a total of 48 Daytime Emmy awards.

Oprah Winfrey drags a wagon full of fat onto the stage to signify the whopping 67 lb (30kg) she lost in an episode.


Unveils her 66kg figure after going on a four-month liquid diet. She drags a wagon full of fat onto the stage to signify the whopping 30kg she lost (pic). The episode marks the start of her unending struggle with weight loss.


Winfrey, who had a baby at 14, was heartbroken when a relative leaked the secret to the National Enquirer. “I took to my bed and cried for three days. I felt devastated. Wounded. Betrayed,” she later commented on the incident.


President Clinton passes the “Oprah Bill” which establishes a national database of convicted child abusers. Winfrey has been rallying for the bill to be signed into law.


Sets up Oprah’s Book Club which would later become the world’s largest book club.


She is found not liable after being sued by a group of Texas cattle producers for causing a drop in beef prices due to her comments on the controversial practices within the beef industry. “I have no beef with the beef industry,” she says, assuring her show is not responsible for the price drop.


Becomes the first African-American female on Forbes’ World’s Richest People list with an estimated net worth of US$1bil (RM3.3bil).


“You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!” Winfrey hollers as she gives away a Pontiac G6 to each of her 276 audience member at the start of her Wildest Dreams season.


“This has been one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating, experiences of my life,” Winfrey says when six students of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls accused their dorm matron for sexually abusing them a year after opening the boarding school in Johannesburg, South Africa.

January 2011

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) debuts.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting her Oscar statuette at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences 2011 Governors Awards in Hollywood, California November 12, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Wawrychuk/A.M.P.A.S./Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Oprah received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2011. -- Reuters

May 2011

“I’ve been asked many times during this farewell season, ‘Is ending the show bittersweet?’ Well I say, ‘all sweet, no bitter,’” Winfrey says as she bids farewell to viewers in the series finale of the eponymous talk show on May 25.

November 2011

Winfrey receives an honorary Oscar for her humanitarian efforts.


Winfrey’s performance as Gloria Gaines in The Butler draws rave reviews.

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