You don't have to be a fan of talk shows to know who Oprah Winfrey is. The self-made superstar has her hands in many different soups and even those who don't dabble in daytime television have come to know and respect her. There are so many things to love about her personality, from her giving nature and attentive attitude to her caring ways and helpful demeanor, Oprah has become a light that the world sorely needed. She currently has her own television station and creates a wide variety of things through her studio, Harpo. A lot of her content is informative, uplifting, and joyful. Simply put, she has a lot of fun showing the bright side of life and has spent much of her time giving back to her audience (and those less fortunate) over the years.
It all started with The Oprah Show, a daytime talk show that helped shine the light on a lot of issues (while still filled with lighthearted moments and Oprah's signature giving attitude). Over the years, the bubbly host hasn't been afraid to bump heads with loud personalities and has even had to put a few people in their place. Although her show currently isn't airing anymore, it was a ton of fun from start to finish and some incredible memories were made along the way.
Fans may not know that a lot of wild things happened during Oprah's daytime TV reign. From the time she wheeled a wagon of meat on stage to the time an episode almost made her quit production, there has been a lot to talk about concerning The Oprah Show.
25 She Reamed A Fraudulent Author On National TV
Oprah once included James Frey's A Million Little Pieces in her Book Club. The memoir was a harrowing narrative about Frey's struggles with substances, but many of the book's claims about Frey's life and relationships did not hold up under scrutiny. After the book became a bestseller, Frey admitted that it was completely fabricated on Oprah's show; he said that after he was unable to sell the novel to publishers as a work of fiction, he lied and pretended it was his life's story. Oprah's interview with Frey became a classic TV moment, and oddly enough, didn't prevent him from rebranding and becoming a successful children's author.
24 Roger Ebert Convinced Her To Become A TV Personality
Roger Ebert was one of the world's foremost film critics, but he didn't just have exquisite taste in movies – he also had exquisite taste in television hosts. While he was dating Oprah very early in her career, he convinced her that she should take a job as a host of a Chicago TV show, and the rest is history. While Ebert and Winfrey's romantic relationship didn't work out, Winfrey's career sure did. Ebert, who became a multi-millionaire in his own right, remained on good terms with Winfrey for years after their break-up.
23 Oprah Scored Some Of The Highest Ratings Ever With A Michael Jackson Interview
In early 1993, Michael Jackson was one of the biggest superstars in the world, but his album Dangerous was being eclipsed by his personal life, including his actual eccentricities – his pet chimpanzee, and his private amusement park - and false tabloid rumors about him. Jackson's refusal to give interviews only helped such stories to flourish. Jackson felt that he should go on TV to dispel some of the rumors about him, and who better to interview the King of Pop than the Queen of All Media? Winfrey's interview with Jackson became the fourth highest rated television program of all time.
22 The Name Of Her Production Company Has A Unique Backstory
If you've ever watched Oprah's talk show or any of the programs on the OWN network, you may have noticed the name "Harpo Productions" come up. No, the company's name is not a reference to Harpo Marx. Oprah chose the company's name for two reasons. The first is that "Harpo" is "Oprah" spelled backward. The second is that in The Color Purple, Oprah played a woman married to a man named Harpo, and earned an Academy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the process. The company has produced TV and popular films like Precious and Selma.
21 Her Interview With Tom Cruise Was A Pop Culture Phenomenon
Tom Cruise went on Oprah's show to discuss his relationship with actress Katie Holmes, which had only recently become public knowledge. Cruise was apparently so enthusiastic about his love for Holmes that he unexpectedly started jumping up and down on Oprah's couch to her obvious surprise and the delight of the in-studio audience. The clip became a pop culture phenomenon, inspiring numerous jokes and memes. It was even played on evening news shows. Oprah later said the moment was a sweet expression of Cruises' love for his girlfriend and that she disliked the ridicule it inspired.
20 Oprah Sang Her Own Theme Song
Due to her prominence in televison, film, and the publishing industry, Oprah has been dubbed "Queen of All Media" but even her most ardent fans might not even know that she once made a minor foray into music. While Oprah said in her Michael Jackson interview that singing is not her forte, she nevertheless once sang her own theme song. Oprah's first theme song was produced by the legendary Quincy Jones and was replaced by a cover of the Whitney Houston hit "I'm Every Woman, " and later by a "Run On, " a gospel-flavored track sung by Oprah herself.
19 She Once Wheeled Out A Wagon Of Fat On Her Show
In one of the most memorable moments of her show, or any show, Oprah decided to celebrate her dramatic weight loss by wheeling out a wagon filled with 67 pounds of fat. Oprah's triumph over her excess weight was certainly inspiring but her method of highlighting her weight loss was, to say the least, a little unorthodox. In an interview, Oprah said that she lost the weight by eating nothing but liquid protein for several weeks. Afterward, she had her staff go to the Moo and Oink, a now-defunct Chicago meat company.
18 Oprah Regrets That Episode
Oprah would later (fittingly) describe the aforementioned episode the "biggest, fattest" mistake of her career. Years later, she recalled that "I had literally starved myself for four months, not a morsel of food, to get into that pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans. Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate [and], of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!" Within a year, she gained 17 pounds back, and her weight has fluctuated in the years since. While she regrets the diet, she doesn't seem to regret the unconventional way in which she celebrated it.
17 She Thought Her Book Club Was A Silly Idea
If Oprah is known for one thing besides her television shows, her roles in acclaimed drama films, or her outspoken activism, it's probably her Book Club. Believe it or not, the Queen of All Media thought that venturing into this world was a ridiculous idea. When her producer Alice McGee pitched the concept of the Book Club to her in the 1990's, she laughed at McGee, but later changed her mind and launched the Book Club late in 1996. It would quickly become the biggest and most famous Book Club that the world had ever known.
16 The Book Club Has Had A Major Impact on the Publishing World
The first book selected for Oprah's Book Club was Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean. The little known novel quickly became a national bestseller and was adopted into a Hollywood movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Since then, Oprah has chosen over sixty different books to be part of her Book Club, and each of them have experienced a major scale boost thanks to Oprah's official seal of approval. The Book Club hasn't been without its detractors; Jonathan Franzen, famously called the Great American Novelist, called Oprah's selections "one dimensional" and hated that she endorsed one of his novels. However, this didn't stop the Book Club from becoming a juggernaut.
15 Oprah Thought No One Would Watch A Show With A Host Like Her
In 1983, Oprah first relocated to Chicago so that she could host a show called AM Chicago, which would become The Oprah Winfrey Show within the next few years. She had some misgivings about her chances to gain prominence, telling producer Dennis Swanson she was not a "typical" host due to her race and weight. Despite this, Oprah recalled "I had no fear. I knew I was stepping into destiny in a way that I could not even explain for myself." She was right, and her show and success became inspirational to millions across the world.
14 Barbara Walters Influenced Her Interviewing Style
Oprah Winfrey's interviewing style is immaculate. She comes across as relatable and authoritative and is able to get people to reveal details about their life that they might not otherwise. While she spent the majority of her career as a talk show host, she would make a terrific news anchor if she ever decided to switch gears. Given how talented she is at conducting interviews, it shouldn't be surprising that her interviewing style was influenced by one of the greats – Barbara Walters. Oprah says that she vigorously studied Walter's interviews so that she could become an interviewer in her own right.
13 An Episode On Husbands Nearly Convinced Her To Quit Her Show
A controversial Oprah episode from 1988 nearly convinced its host to quit her show. The episode centered on bad husbands and featured a wife, a husband, and his girlfriend on stage. On air, the husband revealed that his girlfriend was with child. Oprah recalled "the look on his wife's face to this day...I will never forget. I said that will not happen to me again. I will never be put in a position again where I cause that kind of humiliation. and that kind of harm to another human being. And if I have to do it, I will get out of this business."
12 Oprah Feuded With David Letterman
Oprah is most known for her work that tends to be uplifting and/or socially conscious. Feuds aren't really her thing. That didn't stop her from feuding with fellow talk show host David Letterman. Oprah appeared on Letterman's show in the 1980s and hated the experience, vowing never to appear on the show again. Letterman responded by joking about Oprah's supposed hatred of him and Oprah refused to speak to him for sixteen years. Since then Letterman made an appearance on Oprah's Next Chapter and officially buried the hatchet, as Letterman apologized for making her feel uncomfortable on his show.
11 Oprah Became The World's First Black Female Billionaire
Oprah has been a source of inspiration for millions, particularly women and African Americans, and she has often used her huge platform to highlight the history and social issues surrounding women and African Americans. With this in mind, it's perfectly fitting that Oprah became the world's first black female billionaire. Luckily for the world, Oprah has shared much of her wealth with the little guy, having donated over $400 million to charity and starting the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a South African boarding academy for disadvantaged girls.
10 The Oprah Winfrey Show Inspired A Podcast About Its Creation
Since The Oprah Winfrey Show is one of the most ubiquitous shows in television history, it has inevitably inspired everything from imitations to parodies to more academic literature than anyone could possibly read in five or six lifetimes. As such, it's no surprise that it would also inspire a podcast. Making Oprah is an acclaimed three-part podcast about the creation of The Oprah Winfrey Show that's hosted by Jenn White. The series was released in 2016 to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of The Oprah Winfrey Show and was produced by WBEZ, a Chicago based radio station.
9 Oprah's Show Was Originally Similar To Jerry Springer's
Over the course of twenty-five years and a staggering 4,561 episodes, Oprah covered every topic imaginable, from celebrities' personal lives to black history to weight loss plans. However, early Oprah episodes were a touch more intense, focusing on topics such as marriage problems and people with odd lifestyles. Oprah wanted to have a celebrity guest on her first episode but was unable to book anyone famous for the program so the title and topic of her debut episode was "How to Get a Man to Marry You."
8 "You Get A Car"
If there is one phrase that is most associated with Oprah, it's "You Get A Car." The story behind that oddly famous phrase is simple: Oprah's best friend, Gayle King, became acquainted with a Pontiac executive and he offered to give away 25 Pontiacs on Oprah's show. Oprah kept asking for more cars until Pontiac decided to give away one car to each member of the show's live studio audience - a whopping 276 cars! The creators of the show had medical experts on site as they feared that the members of the audience might faint from the excitement of receiving a new car.
7 Oprah Received The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
Part of the reason why Oprah Winfrey commands so much respect around the world is that she isn't simply a television host – she's a dedicated humanitarian. Between her large donations to charity, her school, and her activism for victims of various forms of abuse, Oprah is probably the most significant humanitarian in the history of television. Fittingly, Oprah became the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002. To date, she is one of only four individuals to receive that award, which is given out irregularly.
6 The Oprah Winfrey Show Won 47 Emmys
Oprah Winfrey has more Emmys than she probably knows what to do with. From the show's premiere in 1986 to 1999, The Oprah Winfrey Show won a stunning total of 47 Daytime Emmys. After that point, Oprah decided to stop submitting episodes of the show to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to be considered for Emmy Awards because she felt that she had won enough Emmy Awards and wanted to give other shows the chance to win the coveted golden statuette. Chalk that up as another reason why Oprah is seen as an icon of charity.
5 Oprah Dislikes The "Oprah Effect"
More than any other celebrity, Oprah Winfrey has a profound effect on her fan's buying habits; this influence has been called the "Oprah effect." Perhaps the most noted example of the effect is when Oprah discouraged her viewers from eating beef, which led beef suppliers to sue her for a whopping $11 million. Oprah is reportedly not enamored with the effect, opining that her influence on consumers "does not compare to the daily impact and the shift that occurred in the way women, in particular, saw themselves due to her show."
4 Oprah Once Took Her Entire Staff On A Cruise
Lots of jobs have perks. Some have dental plans, some have enviable numbers of vacation days, and others will let you see a free movie every Tuesday. Oprah is wealthy enough and generous enough that she took her entire staff on a cruise once. People spend ridiculous amounts of money so they can go on a cruise and some pay even more so that they can go on cruises with minor celebrities so the fact that so many people got to go on a free cruise with Oprah Winfrey is absolutely amazing.
3 She Would Give Her Audience All The Items On Her Favorite Things List
Another major example of the so-called "Oprah effect" is the power of Oprah's Favorite Things List which has convinced many Oprah fans to purchase items which have been endorsed by the Queen of All Media. The list started when Oprah gave free pairs of pajamas to her staff and later bought her employees 500 pairs of Ugg boots. The show's producer, Ellen Rabieten, suggested that Oprah tape an episode of her show where she made a "Favorite Things" list and gifted every item on the list to her studio audience. She did this for eight years.
2 Oprah Co-Hosted A Show Before Taking It Over Herself
Oprah's first show was AM Chicago. Originally, she co-hosted the show. During her first month as a host, the show's ratings went from being the lowest in Chicago to being the highest in the city, all because of Oprah's extreme magnetism. She eventually became the program's sole host and her prominence only grew from there. The acclaim that Oprah garnered for her role in Steven Spielberg's historical drama, The Color Purple, caused the show to be renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show to highlight Oprah's presence on the program in the hope that fans of the movie might watch the show.
1 The Oprah Winfrey Show Is The Highest Rated Talk Show Ever
While it might not get the same level of critical acclaim as scripted television shows, the daytime talk show has had a profound effect on the global television landscape for decades now. There have been numerous talk shows that have gained major followings, from The View to The Jerry Springer Show to The Maury Povich Show. With that kind of competition, it's especially impressive that The Oprah Winfrey Show managed to become the highest rated talk show of them all. Even a hundred years from now, Oprah will still be remembered as one of television's premier personalities.