Saturday 25 November 2017

Happy birthday Oprah: This is your life!

Oprah Winfrey arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Oprah Winfrey arrives at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Oprah Winfrey was honoured at The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 women in entertainment breakfast
Chat show queen Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
December 6, 2002, Nelson Mandela poses with television personality Oprah Winfrey in Henley, Johannesburg.
President Barack Obama talks with Oprah Winfrey after presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Oprah Winfrey said working on her network has been rewarding
Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey star in The Butler
Oprah Winfrey sits with her partner Stedman Graham, right, and British entrepreneur Richard Branson watch South African President Nelson Mandela's funeral service in Qunu, South Africa

Aishling Phelan

Legendary talk show host Oprah Winfrey may have turned 60 but she has insisted that she couldn’t wait to hit the milestone birthday.

The media mogul believes women should never be ashamed of their age, so she will be happily celebrating her big 6-0 with close family, friends and fans from all over the world. 

From her humble beginnings to her journey to becoming the world’s first female black billionaire, we document some of the defining moments of her life thus far.


'The Colour Purple'

Winfrey was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as distraught housewife Sofia in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple.

Having never acted before, to prepare for her role as a slave she experienced a 24-hour simulation of the experience of slavery, which included being tied up and blindfolded.

‘‘I just became obsessed with being a part of this movie. I never had more fun in my life than doing The Color Purple,’’ she said.


First TV chat show

The Queen of daytime talk landed her first full-hour chat show in 1986 called The Oprah Winfrey Show.

She doubled the station’s national audience for her time slot and the show became the number-one daytime talk show in America.

She overtook the much-loved Phil Donahue for the number one spot.


The Michael Jackson interview

The expert interviewer said she had been only nervous twice throughout her entire career – one of these was interviewing music icon Michael Jackson.

On February 10 in 1993, Oprah sat down with Michael Jackson for what would be the most-watched interview in television history at that time.

The notoriously private Jackson had refused to give an interview for 14 years but decided to open up to Oprah in front of an audience of 90 million people.


President Barack Obama

The second time she was nervous throughout her glittering career was when she interviewed President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama.

She made history as it was the first time a sitting president and first lady appeared together on The Oprah Show.

"Air Force One has landed in Chicago,’’ she said the day they arrived.  ‘‘I am so honoured that in these remaining days of The Oprah Show, they chose to be here.’’


Australia trip

In an effort to surprise her audience of Oprah devotees, she decided to take them all to Australia, announcing it on the opening show of her 25th and final season.

‘‘This is really my last chance to do something really big so I started to think about where would I most want to go,’’ she told a trembling audience.

The show’s 300 most loyal viewers were gifted a surprise trip to Australia with Hollywood actor John Travolta as their pilot.


School in South Africa

One of the achievements which is closest to the star’s heart is founding the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

The billionaire set up the school for young women who had shown exemplary service in their community and a dedication to learning.

Giving the girls the chance of a real education, she has helped hundreds of girls to reach college education.


Founding HARPO and O Magazine

HARPO is Winfrey’s self-started multimedia production company based in Chicago.

It means Oprah spelled backwards and is also the name of her fictional husband in ‘The Color Purple’.

HARPO TV studios was home to The Oprah Winfrey Show but the company has also produced films and radio shows.

She also founded O magazine which is a monthly magazine, first printed in 2000.


Controversial interviews

The world class interviewer is well known for her ability to skilfully make guests open up.

One of the most controversial interviews featured Tom Cruise playfully jumping up and down on her couch.

Another memorable interview involved singer Whitney Houston admitting to drug use.

Former US President George Bush also opened up to the chat show host about his response to Hurricane Katrina and his time as president.


'The Butler'

Winfrey played the wife of Forest Whittaker, who plays a butler based on long-time White House service worker Eugene Allen in The Butler.

The movie role was Oprah’s first in 15 years.

The film tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades.


Oprah’s Book Club

The host’s literary club was introduced on her talk show in 1996 and became a firm favourite with fans.

Winfrey would pick a novel to highlight for her millions of viewers each month, many of which went on to become best sellers after being featured on her show.

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