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Definition: Winfrey from The Macquarie Dictionary

born 1954, US television talk show host and producer.

Summary Article: Oprah Winfrey (1954–)
From African American Almanac
Talk Show Host, Media Mogul

Oprah Winfrey's rise to fame is a tale at once moving and inspiring. She was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her name was supposed to have been “Orpah,” after a biblical figure in the book of Ruth; accounts vary as to the origin of the misspelling.

Winfrey was a precocious child who asked her kindergarten teacher to advance her to the first grade; Winfrey also skipped the second grade. Her parents, who were not married, separated when she was very young and sent her to live with her grandparents. At the age of six Winfrey moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother. From the time she was nine she was abused sexually by male family members and acquaintances; these events, which she did not discuss publicly until the 1980s, have had a profound effect on her life.

When she was fourteen Winfrey went to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee, and it was there that her life was put back on track. Her father insisted on hard work and discipline as a means of self-improvement, and Winfrey complied, winning a college scholarship that allowed her to attend Tennessee State University. In 1971 she began working part time as a radio announcer for WVOL in Nashville. Two years later, after receiving a B.A. from Tennessee State, she became a reporter at WTVF-TV in Nashville. From 1976 to 1983 she lived in Baltimore, working for the ABC affiliate WJZ-TV, progressing from news anchor to co-host of the popular show People Are Talking. In 1984 she moved to Chicago and took over the ailing morning show A.M. Chicago. By September of the next year, the show was so successful that it was expanded to an hour format and renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show was placed in syndication and the The Oprah Winfrey Show became one of the most popular television programs in history. A talented actress, Winfrey appeared in the motion picture The Color Purple (1985) and in the television movie The Women of Brewster Place (1989). In 1986 Winfrey founded Harpo, Inc., her own production company (“Harpo” is “Oprah” spelled backwards).

In 2011 after twenty-five successful years hosting The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey ended the show after over five thousand broadcasts. She also launched on January 1, 2011, a new television station in collaboration with the Discovery Health Channel called OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Winfrey is the richest African American female in America in the twenty-first century, as well as the only African American consistently rated as a billionaire. She is also a philanthropist who donates money to worthy causes, offers scholarships to students for education, and in 2007 she opened The Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa to promote the education of young girls toward transforming communities and countries. As the most powerful African American woman in America she has used her influence to help and encourage all Americans “to live their best life.”

Copyright © 2012 by Visible Ink Press®

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