Name at birth: Orpah Gail WinfreyOrpah Winfrey is one of the most successful talk show hosts and multimedia publishers in American TV history. Oprah Winfrey first got into broadcasting in the early 1970s; after anchoring and reporting TV news in Nashville, Tennessee and Baltimore, Maryland, she landed a job on the morning show of A.M. Chicago in 1984. The next year she made the leap to acting, making her movie debut in The Color Purple (based on the Alice Walker book) and earning an Oscar nomination for her work. In 1986 she launched The Oprah Winfrey Show, a TV talk show which featured celebrity interviews and discussions of social issues, along with tearful confessions of personal failings or traumas by guests or by Oprah herself. (The Wall Street Journal eventually called the confessional trend the "Oprahfication" of TV.) The show was a smash hit and within a decade Oprah was one of the richest women in the United States, and so popular that she was known by her first name alone. "Oprah's Book Club," a feature of her show highlighting new books, became famous for its ability to create bestsellers. In 2000 she launched her own lifestyle magazine, O. She announced in November of 2009 that she would end her TV show when her existing contract ended, and her final shows were broadcast in May of 2011. In the meantime she had started her own cable channel, called OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network. She debuted a new interview show on that network, Oprah's Next Chapter, in January of 2012. In the years since she has continued to run her multimedia empire and devoted herself to philanthropy; in 2013, for instance, she donated $13 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. For many years Forbes magazine has listed Oprah Winfrey as a billionaire in its annual wealth rankings. She continues to act occasionally, appearing in movies like The Butler (2013) and Selma (2014) and the 2017 TV movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (on which she was also executive producer). Oprah Winfrey was given Kennedy Center Honors in 2010 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013. Her books include the health manual Make the Connection: Ten Steps to a Better Body--And a Better Life (1996, with Bob Greene) and the essay collection What I Know For Sure (2014).
In a 1991 interview with the Academy of Achievement, Oprah Winfrey said that her name was spelled “Orpah” on her birth certificate, but that she has always been called Oprah instead. Orpah is a Biblical name from the Book of Ruth… Oprah Winfrey’s production company is named Harpo Productions — “Oprah” spelled backwards… Oprah Winfrey launched the career of relationship specialist Dr. Phil, who became famous while making regular guest appearances on her show.
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