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Oprah Winfrey Biography

Oprah Winfrey


Name: Oprah Winfrey
Profession: Media Personality, Actress, Producer
Birth Date: January 29, 1954
Height: 5' 6½"

Oprah Winfrey was born in Koscuisko, Miss. and endured a difficult childhood. Winfrey's father and mother, Vernon and Vernita, were never married and she spent her early childhood living with her grandmother in rural Mississippi.

In the 1960s, Winfrey began living with either her mother in Milwaukee, Wisc. or her father in Nashville, Tenn. While in Milwaukee, Winfrey was raped and abused by family members.  She became pregnant at 14 and went to live with her father permanently.  After her week-old baby died, Oprah's father provided her with the love, discipline and stability that she needed to rebuild her life.

In 1971, Winfrey was crowned Miss Black Tennessee and started attending Tennessee State University.  She was later hired by Nashville radio station WVOL to read the news on the air. Two years later, Winfrey became Nashville's first African-American TV correspondent and the youngest person to co-anchor the news for WTVF-TV.

In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, Md. to co-anchor the evening news at WJZ-TV.  Two years later, she began co-hosting a local talk show called "People Are Talking."

In 1984, Winfrey relocated to Chicago to begin hosting WLS-TV’s morning talk show, "A.M. Chicago." Within the first month, it was the top-rated talk show in the market. The following year, the show was renamed the "The Oprah Winfrey Show." In addition, Winfrey made her feature film debut as "Sophia" in Steven Spielberg's "The Color Purple." Winfrey's performance earned her Golden Globe and Oscar nods for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1986, Winfrey formed her own production company Harpo, Inc. (Oprah spelled backwards) and her "Oprah Winfrey Show" entered syndication. A year later, she won the first of many Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

In 1988, Winfrey launched Harpo Productions, Inc. Two years later, she opened Harpo Studios in Chicago and continued to grow her media empire by establishing Harpo Films.

In 1996, Winfrey launched the hugely-successful "Oprah’s Book Club." She also debuted another business venture, O, the Oprah Magazine, in 2000.

In 2002, Harpo Productions, Inc. created and launched "Dr. Phil," a new syndicated talk-show. That same year, Winfrey was inducted in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. She then became the first African-American woman named to the Forbes magazine billionaire list in 2003.

As she turned 50 in 2004, Winfrey was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, an honor that she would continue to receive for years to come.

In addition to her countless business achievements, the media mogul is also well-known for her humanitarian efforts. Among Winfrey’s many honors for her charity efforts are the United Nations Association of the United Stated States of America’s Global Humanitarian Action Award in 2004 and the Elle Wiesel Foundation for Humanity’s Humanitarian Award in 2007.