Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah Winfrey
Orpah Gail Winfrey
BirthplaceKosciusko, Mississippi, U.S.
Former Host of The Oprah Winfrey Show Chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions Chairwoman, CEO, and CCO of the Oprah Winfrey Network

Winfrey, Oprah,

1954–, African-American television host, actress, and media magnate, b. Kosciusko, Miss., as Orpah Gail Winfrey, grad. Tennessee State Univ. (1976). She began her career as a Nashville radio reporter at age 17, worked in television news at 19, and moved (1976) to Baltimore to coanchor a news show. In 1977 she became cohost of a Baltimore morning chat show and in 1984 settled in Chicago to host another talk show. Her charm, easy manner, warmth, gift of gab, and unpretentious style earned the program an enthusiastic audience and soaring ratings. Soon the most popular local talk show, it was syndicated nationally in 1986, becoming the highest-rated such program, and ended only in 2011. Also a talented actress, Winfrey made her motion-picture debut in Steven SpielbergSpielberg, Steven,
1946–, American film director, b. Cincinnati, Ohio. Spielberg began his career as a television director, admired for his understanding portrayal of human character.
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's The Color Purple (1985), and a variety of other movie and television roles followed.

Winfrey subsequently built a media empire. In 1988 she established Harpo Studios, a production company responsible for numerous telefilms and movies, e.g., Beloved (1998, in which she starred). In an effort to promote reading, she founded (1996) Oprah's Book Club, which recommended books to her talk-show viewers and has produced spectacular best sellers, making her a force in American publishing. In 1999 she established Oxygen Media, which produces women's programs on cable television and the Internet, and in 2000 she joined with the Hearst Corp. in creating O: The Oprah Magazine, a monthly women's lifestyle publication. In a joint venture with the Discovery channels, she launched her own network, OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), in 2011. One of the country's wealthiest women (her estimated worth in the early 2000s was well over $1 billion), Winfrey is also an active philanthropist with a particular interest in women's and children's issues and education.


See B. Adler, ed., The Uncommon Wisdom of Oprah Winfrey: A Portrait in Her Own Words (1997); biographies by H. S. Garson (2004) and K. Kelley (2010); study by E. Illouz (2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Winfrey, Oprah (Gail)

(1954–  ) television talk show host; born in Kosciusko, Miss. A television coanchor while in college, she cohosted Baltimore is Talking (1977–84). Taking over ABC's A.M. Chicago in 1984, she surpassed veteran Phil Donahue with her confessional style talk show, syndicated as the Oprah Winfrey Show (1986). She received an Academy Award nomination for her role in The Color Purple (1985). Intensely energetic and immensely rich, she founded her own production company, allowing herself to do movies and television shows she personally believed in.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Breaking down many taboos, Winfrey has herself talked openly about being abused as a child, after being born into a life of poverty in Mississippi.
OPRAH Winfrey said an emotional farewell to her fans yesterday as she took to the stage alone for the final episode of her chat show.
Summary: Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey has filmed her final shows in front of 13,000 fans and a host of A-list celebrities.
As a young news anchor in Baltimore, Oprah Winfrey hated being sent to report on other people's tragedies.
NEW YORK: Oprah Winfrey will try to recreate her daytime success in the evening with a new show she will host from around the world next year after ending her reign as daytime talk-show queen after 25 years, her network said on Thursday.
Oprah Winfrey has announced that her powerhouse daytime television show, the foundation of a multibillion-dollar media empire with legions of fans, will end its run in 2011 after 25 seasons on the air.
Summary: A tearful Oprah Winfrey on Friday announced that she will take her iconic talk show off the air in 2011 at the end of its 25th season.
While watching a commercial for the Oprah Winfrey Show in the lobby of a quick-lube station, Katrina Bell McDonald had a surprising encounter with a fellow customer.
Yet, for nearly two decades now, millions of television viewers, mostly white women, have made the Oprah Winfrey Show the most watched daytime television program.
An embarrassed Oprah Winfrey says she has "fallen off the wagon" of healthy living and has ballooned to 200lb (14st 4lb).
Advocating education as the "door to freedom," Oprah Winfrey has opened a new school in South Africa to help girls from poor families who show outstanding promise.