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Transcript of OPRAH
Birthplace: Kosciusko, MS
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Talk Show Host, Actor
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Oprah Winfrey Show
Oprah Winfrey was born poor and black in Mississippi in 1954, when poor and black meant no flush toilets, no shoes, and no real chance to get ahead in the world. She was supposed to be "Orpah" Winfrey, named for the Biblical Ruth's sister-in-law (see Ruth, chapter 1), but the name was spelled wrong on her birth certificate, and soon everyone was calling her Oprah. She learned to read at home, and skipped kindergarten to go straight into first grade. She skipped second grade, too. At 17 she was working as a reporter for a local radio station. She was a bright kid.
And beautiful -- at 18, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. At 19, she was anchoring a newscast on Nashville's WTVF-TV. She later co-anchored the nightly newscast at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, and co-hosted a local talk show called People Are Talking, before jumping to Chicago's WLS-TV. Her morning talk show there debuted in 1984, and rose to number one in the ratings within a month. Outside of local telecasts, Oprah first drew national attention in her film debut, The Color Purple, for which she snagged an Oscar-nomination as best supporting actress. She's acted in other films since, but never nearly so well.
Winfrey's talk show went national in 1986, and as it had in Chicago, Oprah took the top spot almost immediately. It's been the top-rated daytime talk show ever since. Winfrey's interview style is intimate, emotional, and seemingly sincere. It's been described as televised therapy, and diehard fans say she does more than merely entertain and interview, she helps her viewers deal with life. Others are immune to Winfrey's powers, but the pro-Winfrey crowd can point to her dozens of Emmy awards.
In 1996, Winfrey angered cattle growers when her show featured this exchange with Howard Lyman, a former cattle rancher-turned-vegetarian-activist:
Lyman: 100,000 cows per year in the United States are fine at night, dead in the morning. The majority of those cows are rounded up, ground up, fed back to other cows. If only one of them has Mad Cow Disease, [it] has the potential to affect thousands. Remember today, [in] the United States, 14% of all cows by volume are ground up, turned into feed, and fed back to other animals. Winfrey: But cows are herbivores, they shouldn't be eating other cows.
Lyman: That's exactly right, and what we should be doing is exactly what nature says, we should have them eating grass -- not other cows. We've not only turned them into carnivores, we've turned them into cannibals. [...]
Winfrey (to audience): Now, doesn't that concern you all a little bit, right here, hearing that? It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!
As soon as the episode aired, beef prices dropped to their lowest point in years, and Winfrey was later sued under obviously un-constitutional laws forbidding criticism of food products without scientific evidence. Winfrey moved her entire show to Amarillo, Texas, for the duration of the trial. And she won. The court wrote that "Lyman's opinions, though strongly stated, were based on truthful, established fact, and are not actionable under the First Amendment"
Oprah Winfrey Show Clip Oprah
Father: Vernon Winfrey (barber, city councilman, possibly not Oprah's biological father)
Mother: Vernita Lee (never married father)
Mother: Stepmother: Zelma Winfrey (d. 1996)
Sister: Patricia (half-sister)
Son: (d. 1968 at age two weeks, when Oprah was 14)
Boyfriend: Roger Ebert (dated in 1970s)
Boyfriend: John Tesh (dated in 1970s)
Boyfriend: Stedman Graham (self-help author, cohabiting since 1986)
High School: East Nashville High School, Nashville, TN (1971)
University: Tennessee State University (1971-76)
University: BA Speech and Drama, Tennessee State University (1987)
Oprah Winfrey Network Founder (2011-)
O, The Oprah Magazine Founder (1999-)
Defamation according to lawsuit filed by Texas cattlemen (1998)
Academy of Achievement (1989)
Obama for America
Kennedy Center Honor 2010
Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame
Spingarn Medal 2000
National Women's Hall of Fame
Beauty Contest Miss Black Tennessee (1972)
Ran Away From Home
Suicide Attempt drank laundry detergent (1968)
Wedding: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver (1986)
Risk Factors: Obesity, Cocaine, Yoga
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