Oprah Winfrey - Talk Show Host and Broadcaster

Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi on 29th January 1954.

She was originally named Orpah, but when writing out the birth certificate the midwife switched the “r” and “p” around so Oprah became her name.

Her parents were unmarried. Vernita Lee (her mother) did several jobs including a housemaid. Likewise Vernon Winfrey (her father), also had several jobs including a coal miner, barber and city councilperson.

When Oprah was born, her father was in the armed forces and so her mother decided to travel north in search of a better job, this resulted in her leaving Oprah to spend her first six years growing up with her grandmother Haitee Mee.

During these early years, encouraged by her grandmother, Oprah showed high levels of talent. But at the age of 6, she moved back in with her mother who unfortunately was less supportive than Oprah’s grandmother.

At the age of 14 Oprah’s mother sent her to live with her father in Nashville Tennessee. Like Grandma Haitee Mee, Oprah’s father was strict but very encouraging. This resulted in Oprah becoming an honours student and receiving a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she studied communications.

At the age of 17, Oprah began her broadcasting career by joining WVOL radio in Nashville.

Then in 1983 she relocated to Chicago, to host a low rated half hour morning talk show, called AM Chicago. Her first episode aired on 2nd January 1984 and over the next 2 years the show became so successful it was expanded to a full hour, was broadcast nationally, was recognised as the number one talk show, and was renamed the Oprah Winfrey show.

Today Oprah’s talk show still continues and is shown across the world. In addition she now has a variety of other business interest (e.g. film, radio, television, books and magazines), many of which fall under the banner of Harpo productions (Oprah spelled backwards).

Currently living on her 42 acre ocean view estate in Montecito California, she has never married, but it is widely assumed that she has lived with her partner Stedman Graham for almost twenty years. They have no children.

Oprah made $100 million last year and is worth over $1.4billion according to the 2006 Forbes Magazine. She has been ranked as the most powerful celebrity, as well as the ninth most powerful woman in the world. She is the first African-American woman to become a billionaire.