Oprah Winfrey, born Orpah Gail Winfrey, is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. She’s best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Take a look below for 30 more fascinating and interesting facts about Oprah Winfrey.
1. She was dubbed the Queen of all Media. She is also the richest African-American and North America’s first African American multi billionaire. She has been ranked as the greatest black philanthropist in American history.
2. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and was given an honorary doctorate degree from Duke and Harvard University.
3. She was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner city Milwaukee neighborhood.
4. Oprah has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at the age of 14, but her son died in infancy.
5. She was sent to live with the man that she calls her father, Vernon Winfrey, who was a barber in Tennessee. There, she found a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19.
6. Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.
7. She is credited with creating a more intimate confessional form of media communication and is thought to have popularized and revolutionized the tabloid talk show genre pioneered by Phil Donahue.
8. By the mid 1990’s, Oprah reinvented her show with a focus on literature, self improvement and spirituality.
9. Fro 2006 to 2008, her endorsement of Obama, by one estimate, delivered over a million votes in the close 2008 Democratic primary race.
10. The name of her production company is Harpo, which is Oprah spelled backward. It’s also the name of the character she was married to in “The Color Purple”, which was her first film role, and for which she was nominated for an Oscar.
11. She has five dogs: a cocker spaniel called Sadie, golden retrievers Luke and Layla, and springer spaniels Sunny and Lauren.
12. She ran the Marine Corp marathon with her trainer, Bob Greene.
13. Oprah considers starting a girls school in Africa to be one of her greatest accomplishments.
14. She launched her famous book club with “The Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacquelyn Mitchard in 1996. It was later made into a movie.
15. She once gave away Pontiac cars to her entire studio audience. When some of them couldn’t pay the tax on the car, they were told that they could sell it.
16. In 2009, Oprah treated her staff and their families to a European cruise.
17. In one emotional episode, an audience member told Oprah that she once bought a pair of her shoes at an auction and would stand in them when she needed strength.
18. In 2002, Oprah became the first recipient of the Television Arts & Sciences’ Bob Hope Humanitarian award.
19. As a child, Oprah played games by interviewing her corncob doll and the crows sitting on the fence around her family’s property.
20. Her father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman. However, in 2003, Mississippi farmer and World War II veteran Noah Robinson Sr., came forward claiming to be her biological father.
21. Oprah took a genetic test in 2006, which determined that her genetic makeup was 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian.
22. Winfrey had a half brother who died of AIDS in 1989, a half sister called Patricia Lloyd, who died of cocaine addiction in 2003, and another half sister that she didn’t find out about until 2010.
23. At the age of 17, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant.
24. She studied communication at Tennessee State University, where she had a full scholarship after winning an oratory contest because she’s a good speaker.
25. Movie critic Roger Ebert is the one who persuaded Winfrey to sign a syndication deal with King World, predicting that The Oprah Winfrey Show would generate 40 times as much revenue as his television show.
26. When The Oprah Winfrey Show was expanded to a full hour and broadcast nationally, it quickly show to the top, displacing Donahue as the number one daytime talk show in America with nearly double the audience.
27. In 1993, Oprah conducted a rare prime time interview with Michael Jackson that was the fourth most watched event in American television history, as well as the most watched interview ever, with an audience of 36.5 million people.
28. Oprah co-founded the women’s cable television network Oxygen.
29. She starred in and produced the movie Beloved, based on Toni Morrison’s book of the same nae Despite plugs on her show and a major advertising push, the movie opened to poor box office results, losing $30 million.
30. Oprah’s 2005 weight loss books garnered an undisclosed advance fee that set a record for the highest ever, which was a slot previously held by U.S. President Bill Clinton.