Oprah Gail Winfrey

By: Darvin Green

From Rags to Riches

American television host, actress, producer and philanthropist Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954. After a troubled adolescence in a small farming community, were she was sexually abused by numerous of male relatives and friends of her mother, Vernita which later she moved to Nashville to live with her father, Vernon, who was a barber and a businessman. She entered Tennessee State University in 1971 and began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville. In 1976, Oprah Winfrey moved to Baltimore, Maryland where she hosted the TV chat show People Are Talking which became a hit and Winfrey stayed with in for eight years, which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show, A.M. Chicago. Her success led led to nationwide fame and role in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 as a nationally syndicated program. With its placement on 120 channels and an audience of 10 million people, the show grossed $125 million by the end of its first year, of which Winfrey received $30 million. She soon gained ownership of the program from ABC, drawing it under the control of her new production company, Harpo Productions ('Oprah' spelled backwards) and making more and more money from syndication.