1Oprah's Real Name
Oprah Winfrey’s actual name is spelled Orpah, a biblical name. It is present on her birth certificate. However, people didn’t really know how to pronounce ‘Orpah’ and misspelled it as Oprah. Therefore she just stuck with it and began to call herself Oprah.
2. As a child, Oprah Winfrey’s family was so poor that she often wore potato sacks because store-bought clothing was too expensive. Other children made fun of her clothing choices and this earned her the cruel nickname ‘Sack Girl.’
3. During her childhood, Oprah Winfrey was molested by her uncle, cousin, and a family friend. When she discussed this with her family when she was older, they denied her allegations.
4. At the age of 13, after suffering what she described as years of abuse, Oprah Winfrey ran away from her home.
5. Over the course of her 25 years hosting The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986), Oprah taped 217 episodes dedicated to sexual abuse, having been a survivor of such abuse herself as a young girl. She was instrumental in the passage of the Oprah Bill, in the early 1990s. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and is aimed at stopping child abuse.
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6Oprah's Early Pregnancy
Due to sexual abuse during her early teenage years, Oprah Winfrey became pregnant at the age of 14. Her son was born prematurely and died in infancy. She once said in an interview that she felt betrayed by one of her family members who had sold the story of her son to the National Enquirer in 1990.
7. Oprah’s grandmother taught her to read before the age of 3 and took her to the local church, where she was nicknamed “The Preacher” for her uncanny ability to recite Bible verses.
8. In 2011, Oprah Winfrey found out she has a sister she never knew existed and now takes care of her financially because Oprah was so impressed by her sister’s loyalty. She had spent 4 years trying to contact Oprah with no luck and never once tried to sell the story to the press.
9. Oprah Winfrey landed her first job in radio while she was still in high school. By 19, she was a co-anchor for the local evening news in Nashville, Tennessee.
10. In the mid-1980s, Oprah Winfrey briefly dated Film critic Roger Ebert, who persuaded her to syndicate The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ebert predicted that she would generate 40 times as much revenue as his television show, “At the Movies.”
11Oprah Winfrey's Networth
Born in poverty, Oprah Winfrey became a millionaire at the age of 32 when her talk show received national syndication. At the age of 41, she had a net worth of $340 million and replaced Bill Cosby as the only African American on the Forbes 400. By 2000, with a net worth of $800 million, Winfrey is believed to have been the richest African American of the 20th century. As of January 2022, she had a net worth of $2.6 billion.
12. Oprah Winfrey was the highest-paid television entertainer in the USA in 2006, earning an estimated $260 million during the year, five times the sum earned by second-place music executive Simon Cowell.
13. At the age of 17, Oprah Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. She also won the “Miss Fire Prevention” award in 1971.
14. In 1996, Oprah Winfrey was sued for causing $11 million in damages to cattle farmers simply for mentioning that she would not eat another burger after she made a show about mad cow disease. They claimed that Winfrey’s remarks sent cattle prices tumbling. After a 2-month trial in a Texas court, the jury found Winfrey was not liable for damages.
15. Oprah Winfrey hired the company Courtroom Sciences, Inc. to help her analyze and read the jury during her Texas cattlemen lawsuit. She was so impressed by the head of the company, Phil McGraw, that she eventually had him appear weekly on her show before he launched his own show, Dr. Phil.
Oprah Winfrey has such a severe phobia of chewing gum that it was banned from her television studio and this included audience members. This fear of hers stemmed from her grandmother who left gum all around the house to save for a later chew. Her rule though didn’t stop Reese Witherspoon from chewing it in front of her.
17. In 2011, when Oprah Winfrey launched OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), the average prime-time audience was 264,000. The channel’s losses were estimated to be $330 million as of May 2012.
18. During one of her Oprah’s Favorite Things specials, Oprah Winfrey promised every audience member a car. However, as the cars were the yet-unreleased 2012 VW Beetles, the members had to wait until the model reached the market to get their cars. The Show paid the sales tax and registration for each car, but not the gift tax, which could be up to $7,000 for some audience members. While the show did offer a cash prize for those who didn’t want to or couldn’t pay the gift tax, some audience members complained to the press, which devastated the producers.
19. The 1998 movie Beloved which starred Oprah Winfrey bombed at the box office and made less money than Bride of Chucky. She claimed the movie’s failure was the worst moment in her career and made her go into major depression. She went on record to state that the depression led her to a macaroni and cheese-eating tailspin and she ate 30 pounds of mac and cheese.
20. The producers for the Premiere episode of the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ bribed Don Johnson of ‘Miami Vice’ with Dom Pérignon and a pair of rhinestone sunglasses as they wanted him to be the show’s first guest.
21Oprah’s Staff Vacation
To celebrate two decades of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and to thank her employees for their hard work, Oprah took her staff and their families (1,065 people in total) on vacation to Hawaii in the summer of 2006.
22. Oprah Winfrey permanently withdrew herself and her show from consideration for a Daytime Emmy Award after being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. She was quoted as saying, “After you’ve achieved it for a lifetime, what else is there?”
23. Oprah Winfrey bought Stevie Wonder a Rolls Royce as a thank you for singing ‘Happy Birthday’ at her 50th birthday party.
24. In 1987, Oprah Winfrey did a show on location from Forsyth County in Georgia, where no black person had lived in 75 years.
25. Warner Bros. considered Oprah Winfrey for a role in Suicide Squad, as Amanda Waller. Despite not possessing any superpowers, Amanda is a powerful antagonist and sometimes-ally to the superheroes of the DC Universe, often serving as an antihero. The role finally went to Viola Davis.