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24 Facts: Oprah Winfrey

2009-11-27 14:19

1.    Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on 29 January 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a teenaged Vernita Lee and coal miner Vernon Winfrey. Her parents were never married and split up soon after her birth.

2.    On her birth certificate, she is Orpah, which is a biblical name. But because her family struggled to pronounce the r before the p, they called her Oprah and it just kinda stuck.

3.    While Oprah wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, there must have been a microphone nearby. Her grandmother taught her to read at the age of three, and she was known as "The Preacher" at church for her ability to recite Bible verses.

4.    Oprah always held onto her book smarts. She was an honours student and won a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she studied communications.

5.    But she's not just a smart cookie. Oprah was voted Most Popular in her senior year class and she won the 1971 Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant.

6.    Despite this, Oprah has always battled privately and publicly with her fluctuating weight. Surprisingly, it's never had an impact on her popularity as it has with most other famous personalities.

7.    Who does Oprah like to talk to most? Her bestie Gayle King, of course.

8.    Rumour has it that Gayle and 'O' are more than friends... but Oprah simply describes their relationship as 'other-worldly".

9.    Oprah has been together with her longtime partner, academic Stedman Graham since 1986. However, Stedman apparently moved out in August and it's also reported that Oprah has cut him out of her will. There's no official word on their current relationship status.

10.    Oprah's most public love relationship is with her dogs.  In March 2008, her first dog, 13-year-old Sophie died after suffering years of kidney trouble. The world shed a tear with Oprah as she bid Sophie farewell with a video montage on her show.

11.    Her annual holiday feature, Oprah's Favourite Things, is the most watched episode of her show each year. It's also the one show EVERYBODY wants to attend because the audience members receive everything on that year's list as a gift!

12.    Speaking of favourites, green is her colour.

13.    Her favourite book is the American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

14.    Things she definitely doesn't like include shoes (she prefers to walk barefoot), bubblegum and heights.

15.    With a net worth of over $2.3 billion, she can have all of her favourite things, all of the time.

16.    She doesn't keep it all to herself, though. Oprah's Angel Network has raised more than $51 million for various charities, and she regularly matches the public's sum donations, as she did with the Hurricane Katrina relief fund.  

17.    In January 2007, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was opened in Meyerton, South of Johannesburg. Oprah donated $40 million to establish this facility.

18.    Just recently, Oprah helped her mom out of a lawsuit claiming Vernita Lee owed $155 000 in unpaid clothing store bills.

19.    The world respects Oprah's opinion. She was so instrumental in electing Barack Obama as US President last year, the governor of Illinois considered offering her Obama's vacant senate seat.

20.    If you hadn't already guessed, her production company, Harpo Productions, is her name spelled backwards.

21.    Like all bigshot celebs, Oprah likes to branch out. You may have seen her in Beloved as well as in The Color Purple, for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role as Sofia.

22.    Her magazine is named after her nickname, "O", and the editor is her best friend Gayle King.

23.    She appears on the cover of every single edition. This year, after many impassioned pleas from Ellen Degeneres, Oprah invited the other talk show host to join her on the cover of the Christmas edition.

24.    The only other person to share the O Magazine cover with her is Michelle Obama. Not even Oprah would say no to Obama!

* EXTRA! Watch this clip of The Oprah Show detailing Ellen's efforts to get onto the cover of O. 

How much do you really know about the Queen of Talk? Here are 24 things you might not have known about Miss Winfrey.

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