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Oprah Gail Winfrey Quick Stats
Date of Birth: Born on January 29, 1954
Place of Birth: Kosciusko, Mississippi, USA
Father: Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner.
Mother: Vernita Lee, a housemaid
Ms. Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in the poor rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954. Oprah spent her first years on her grandmother’s farm, while her mother looked for work in the North. Her grandmother taught her to read at an early age. Despite the hardships, she enjoyed the loving support of her grandmother and the church community, who cherished her as a gifted child.
- In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted a hit TV chat show, People Are Talking, after which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show.
- Later she went on to pursue her two-and-a-half decade stint as host of the wildly popular Oprah Winfrey show.
- The name of Oprah’s production company, Harpo Productions, is “Oprah” spelled backward.
- Oprah received an Academy Award nomination for her role in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. She would later produce a version of the film on Broadway.
- Oprah publishes two magazines, O, The Oprah Magazine and O at Home. Fortune magazine named O, The Oprah Magazine the most successful publishing start-up in history.
- Oprah will even launch a signature radio channel on the XM satellite network.
- On her 2004 season premiere, Oprah gave new cars to everyone in her audience.
- Oprah is the voice of Gussy the Goose in the 2006 adaptation of Charlotte’s Web.
- Oprah once dated critic Roger Ebert.
- Winfrey is listed by Forbes International as the world’s only African-American billionaire.
- Oprah donates more to charity than any other show business celebrity. Listed as the 235th richest American (in 2005), she was the 32nd most philanthropic.
- Since beginning “Oprah’s Book Club,” the television-based literary society is so powerful that any book placed on the must-read list becomes an instant best seller. (After it was discovered that author James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces was full of untruths, Oprah chastised the writer on her program, essentially revoking its “Book Club” status. Stung by the experience, she promoted classics for some time afterward.)
Oprah Cult Brand Summary
It’s hardly an accident that Oprah Winfrey has maintained such a fervently steadfast and devoted fan base during her career. She has used her talk show as a daily platform for holding heart-to-heart discussions with her audience. Some TV personalities seem distant and removed from the general public, but Oprah has never shied away from sharing intimate, personal details about her life with her audience. She has openly discussed such incredibly difficult and personal topics as being raped when she was nine and using cocaine in her twenties, as well as her ongoing battle with obesity. By sharing these intimate personal details, Oprah shows her viewers that when the lights and cameras are all put away, she faces many of the same problems as they do. She is indeed an ordinary person with ordinary problems to overcome. It’s her seeming vulnerability and fragility that make her that much more inclusive of a brand.
When she launched her book club in 1996 to, “help get America reading again,” most media pundits initially viewed it as a crazy idea and delusional. They thought talk show viewers didn’t seem a likely mix with books. Oprah went ahead anyway. Her monthly selections ignored light and fluffy romance novels and concentrated on literary works dealing with strong emotional conflicts. The formula worked. Oprah’s viewers took to the book club idea immediately, so much so that only a year after its launch, U.S. News & World Report wrote that Oprah had, “set millions to reading who hadn’t read a book since high school and has made obscure books bestsellers.” By participating in this club, every Oprah viewer becomes part of the Oprah family for a few hours each week, while still remaining unique from the world’s non-Oprah viewers.
Now, the placement of the Oprah Book Club logo on a book is the most surefire way for it to rocket onto the bestseller list. Book stores have so much faith in the “Oprah effect” that, sight unseen, they happily order thousands of copies of her upcoming club selection.
In 1997, a year after starting the book club, Oprah launched the Angel Network with the goal of inspiring people to really “use their lives” and reap the rewards that come from giving to others. It’s hard to argue with the results. Through donations of viewers, Oprah’s Angel Network has now given homes to thousands of needy people and college scholarships to hundreds of deserving students.
The foremost reason for the success of the Network is Oprah’s ability to intimately involve her viewers in the gift-giving process. She makes it a two-way street. She not only writes checks to charities herself, she gets her fan base involved with her. When the beneficiaries of the Angel Network’s donations appear as guests, viewers can almost feel the good that they are doing through this program.
Whether you like or dislike Oprah, you can’t argue with the fact that she really does care for people that are, “improving the lives of others.” The halo effect the Oprah brand receives from these community activities is very real. We all feel a certain warmth and quiet joy from helping others. Brands that bring about these feelings in us will almost always hold a special place in our hearts.
1954 – Oprah was born on January 29,1954 in Mississippi to unmarried parents. Her father Vernon Winfrey was a coal miner. Her mother Vernita Lee was a housemaid.
1954-1960 – Oprah lived with her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee on a farm.
1960 – At age six, Oprah moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother. Oprah has claimed that she was molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend, starting when she was nine years old.
1967 – Oprah received a scholarship to attend Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin.
1968 – Oprah rebelled, ran away from home and ran to the street. When she was 14, she gave birth to a male baby which died shortly afterwards. Her mother sent her to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father was strict and made her education a priority. She became an honors student and graduated from East Nashville High School.
1972 – Oprah Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. The local black radio station WVOL hired her to do the news part-time.
1973 – Oprah graduated from Tennessee State University with a degree in Speech and Performing Arts. She became the first black TV news anchor reporter with WTVF-TV.
1976 – Oprah moved to Baltimore’s WJZ-TV to co-anchor the six o’clock news.
1978 – Oprah was recruited to join Richard Sher as co-host of WJZ’s local talk show People Are Talking , which premiered on August 14, 1978. She also hosted the local version of Dialing for Dollars there.
1983 – Oprah moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s low-rated half-hour morning talk-show, AM Chicago.
1984 – Within months after Oprah took over, the show went from last place in the ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest rated talk show in Chicago. It was renamed as “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.
1985 – Oprah co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s epic film adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple. She earned immediate accolades as Sofia, the distraught housewife.
1986 – The Oprah Winfrey Show was expanded to a full hour, and broadcast nationally beginning September 8, 1986. She starred in the movie ‘Native Son’ as Janet Thomason.
1987 – On February 9 her much acclaimed episode from her show was aired from Forsyth County, Georgia, where no blacks had been allowed to live since 1912. Oprah won her first Emmy award for best talk/service show host and best show. She played a cameo role in the Danny DeVito movie “Throw Momma from the Train”.
1988 – The International Television and Radio Society named Oprah Broadcaster of the Year. She bought an apartment in Chicago and a farm in Indiana. She appeared in the TV program Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special as herself .
1989 – Oprah’s half brother, Jeffrey Lee died of AIDS. She played the role of Mattie Michael in the movie “The Women of Brewster Place”. She received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Entertainer of the year award.
1990 – Oprah starred in the documentary “Listen Up – The Lives of Quincy Jones”. She appeared as Mattie Michael in the TV program “Brewster Place”.
1991 – Oprah testified before the US congress and initiated the National Child Protection Act.
1992 – Oprah was engaged to Stedman Graham, a public relations executive. She appeared in the TV program “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” episode “A Night at the Oprah”. She won the Best talk show Host Emmy award.
In the mid-1990s, Oprah anchored shows about heart disease in women, geopolitics with Lisa Ling, spirituality and meditation, and gift-giving and home decorating shows. She would often interview celebrities on issues that directly involve them in some way, such as cancer, charity work, or substance abuse. She also interviewed ordinary people who have done extraordinary things or been involved in important current issues.
1993 – Oprah hosted a rare prime-time interview with Michael Jackson which became the fourth most watched event in American television history as well as the most watched interview ever, with an audience of one hundred million. She appeared in the TV program “There Are No Children Here” as LaJoe Rivers.
1994 – Oprah won Best Talk Show and Best Talk Show Host at the 21st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards .She became co-author of the book In The Kitchen With Rosie – Oprah’s Favorite Recipes by Oprah Winfrey and Rosie Daley.
1995 – Oprah won an Emmy for Best Talk Show and Best Host for the second year in a row. “Oprah Online” started on AOL (American Online) in partnership with ABC. She became the first woman and the only black on Forbes list of 400 richest Americans.
1996 – Oprah received the prestigious George Foster Peabody’s Individual Achievement Award. She became co-author of the book “A Journal of Daily Renewal – The Companion to Make the Connection”, by Oprah Winfrey and Bob Greene.
1997 – Oprah delivered the commencements address to the Wellesley College Class of 1997. She appeared in the TV program “Ellen – The Puppy Episode” and “Before Women Had Wings.” Oprah’s Angel Network is formed encouraging people to make charitable contributions and volunteer work. She became author of the book The “Uncommon Wisdom of Oprah Winfrey – A Portrait in Her Own Words” by Oprah Winfrey and Bill Adler (editor).
1998 – Oprah became co-author of the book “Journey to Beloved”, by Oprah Winfrey and Ken Regan. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards and an award for top talk show host. She starred in the movie of the Toni Morrison novel, “Beloved”.
1999 – Oprah was co-author of the book “Make the Connection – Ten Steps to a Better Body and a Better Life”, by Oprah Winfrey and Bob Greene.
2002 – Oprah became the recipient of the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 2002 Emmy Awards for services to television and film.
2004 – Oprah and Tom Cruise hosted the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. She was listed as the world’s only black billionaire in Forbes’s international rich list.
2005 – Oprah was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people of the year. She ranked in 9th place in public poll of the greatest Americans.She was named as the greatest woman in American history. She became the first black person listed by Business Week as one of America’s top 50 most generous philanthropists. “The Color Purple” was made into a Broadway musical and she was one of the producers.
2006 – Oprah signed a 3-year contract with XM Satellite Radio to establish a new radio channel based in Chicago. She starred in the movie “Charlotte’s Web” playing Gussy.
2007 – Oprah invested $40 million creating the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg in South Africa. She received praise from Nelson Mandela for overcoming her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others and for investing in the future of South Africa. Also towards the end of the same year, Oprah endorsed President Barack Obama (then Senator) and joined him for campaign trails.
2009 – Oprah announced that she would be concluding The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011. On the show she said, “This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say good-bye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones, and it feels right in my spirit. It’s the perfect number — the exact right time.”
2011 – Oprah launched her own cable network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN.
2012 – Oprah’s Next Chapter premiered on 1st January. Oprah chose Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) as her first guest on the show. Unlike The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah has now decided to step out of the studio and into people’s abodes to interview them. Oprah also visited Mumbai, India recently regarding the show.
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