Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah Winfrey (born Orpah Gail Winfrey; January 29, 1954) is an American television host, actress, producer, and philanthropist, best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history.[1] She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century,[2] the greatest black philanthropist in American history,[3][4] and was once the world's only black billionaire.[5][6] She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world.[7][8]

Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood. She experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, including being raped at the age of nine and becoming pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy.[9] Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19. Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place[5] she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.

Credited with creating a more intimate confessional form of media communication,[10] she is thought to have popularized and revolutionized[10][11] the tabloid talk show genre pioneered by Phil Donahue,[10] which a Yale study claims broke 20th century taboos and allowed LGBT people to enter the mainstream.[12][13] By the mid 1990s, she had reinvented her show with a focus on literature, self-improvement, and spirituality. Though criticized for unleashing confession culture and promoting controversial self-help aids,[14] she is often praised for overcoming adversity to become a benefactor to others.[15]

From 2006 to 2008, her support of Barack Obama, by one estimate, delivered over a million votes in the close 2008 Democratic primary race.[16]

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