Multiple-Emmy award winning host Oprah Gail Winfrey was born January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a poor and unwed teenage mother. At the age of nine, Oprah was raped but despite the incident, she remained focused on her studies. She skipped two grades and even attended Nicolet High School through a scholarship. At age 14 though, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son who immediately died in infancy. Because of her rebellious ways, her mother sent Oprah to her father, a barber in Tennessee who was strict but supportive of his daughter. During her high school years, she ended in second place at a national dramatic interpretation and this earned her full scholarship to Tennessee State University.
By the time that she was 17, Oprah Winfrey
already began working for a local radio station. She became the youngest and first black female news anchor at WLAC-TV. In 1976, she moved to WJZ-TV and co-anchored the six o'clock news. She was later asked to co-host talk shows People are Talking and Dialing for Dollars. In 1983, Oprah went to Chicago and hosted AM Chicago. From being the lowest rating talk show, it became the highest rated one. It was later renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show
and the rest is history.
Oprah played lead role Sofia on the film adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel The Color Purple. Her performance on the movie earned her a Golden Globe, an Image Award and an NBR Award. Among her other films are Beloved and Native Sons. She also lent her voice for the characters Judge Bumbleton in Bee Movie and Gussy the Goose in Charlotte's Web. She made TV appearances on shows There Are No Children Here, Before Women Had Wings, Ellen and The Women of Brewster Place.
In 2007, Oprah Winfrey produced ABC's Oprah's Big Give
. A reality game show, it features 10 contestants who are given large sums of money. The contestants compete against each other in finding “the most powerful, sensational, emotional and dramatic ways to give to others.”
(Photo courtesy of ABC)