Today on January 29, 1954, the queen of media and billionaire philanthropist Oprah Winfrey was born.
Born in rural Mississippi, Oprah Gail Winfrey grew up in a poor working-class family. She was raised by her single teenage mother, who worked as a maid. Her birth certificate states her name as Orpah, but she later changed the spelling to avoid confusion with the pronunciation. Having lived through a tumultuous upbringing, she has since admitted to being repeatedly molested as a young child. Despite her childhood, she eventually graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.A. in Speech and Performing Arts. As Oprah commonly states, "turn your wounds into wisdom." Stedman Graham has been her life companion for more than thirty years. The couple has not married or had any children together.
In 1976, Oprah began her television career by co-hosting the hit Baltimore show, "People Are Talking." Several years later, a Chicago-based TV station recruited her into hosting a solo morning show. On September 8, 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show finally debuted, becoming the highest-rated daytime program in history. The show aired for a total of twenty-five seasons, releasing 4,561 episodes. The Oprah Winfrey Show earned 16 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host and Outstanding Talk Show. Oprah was the first woman to own and produce her television show. With a successful career in Hollywood, she has rightfully earned the nickname, the Queen of All Media. After first starring in Steven Spielberg's, The Color Purple, she went on to star and produce several other hit movies.
Oprah's business acumen offscreen has now made her the richest African-American and the first multi-billionaire black woman in North America. It's estimated that by 2012, Oprah had donated more than $400 million to various charities and educational causes. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded her the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Some sources suggest that her endorsement of Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election garnered him an extra million votes, likely having a significant impact on the tight race.