Oprah Winfrey is a glorious enigma. From an outsider's perspective, it's hard to imagine how she has had time to do even a fraction of the things she's done. She's literally a billionaire thanks to her super smart business moves and she seems to get more successful and build her empire more by the day. She's a talk show host, TV producer, actress, author, business woman, and perma cover girl of her very own magazine. How does she do it? While we see and hear a lot about Oprah, we don't know everything. Here are 12 crazy facts about the Queen Of Talk Shows that will definitely boggle your mind.
12 She Learned To Read At 3
Oprah supposedly started reading at the age of three. That was also the age when she spoke at church for the first time and told the story of the resurrection on Easter. When she started Kindergarten, she wrote a note to the teacher which said, "I don't think I belong here 'cause I know a lot of big words." The teacher agreed and she got to skip to the first grade. She was always super smart and as a teenager, she memorized 20 new vocal words each week, and she was an honor student.
11 She Tragically Had A Baby At 14
Oprah gave birth to a child when she was 14, who was premature and ended up dying. The pregnancy was a result of an assult which she has been pretty open about. She has told her tragic story -- when she was 9, her cousin attacked her, and then another two relatives did as well -- and she even tried to conceal her pregnancy from everyone. Even though her baby passed away, she was told by a reporter to give him a name, so she decided on Canaan (because it means "new land, new life").
10 Her Real Name Is Orpah
Oprah was actually named Orpah which is a name found in the Bible. There are a bunch of stories floating around about why she changed her name, some saying it was misspelled on her birth certificate, but either way she ended up changing it. She has expressed that she hated her name growing up, but she probably likes it today since she's named all her business ventures after herself.
9 She Was Fired As A News Anchor
Oprah had a news anchor gig at Baltimore's WJZ-TV but was fired for being too invested in her stories. A producer literally told her she was "unfit for television news." Obviously she didn't let that derail her (but you already knew that). She got another job hosting a show... that turned into The Oprah Winfrey Show, and we know how well that turned out. Bet that producer is eating their words now.
8 She Was The First Black Female Billionaire
In 2003, Oprah became the first black female billionaire ever, and was the only one until 2013 when she was joined by both Isabel dos Santos, Africa's first female billionaire, and Folorunsho Alakija, Nigeria's first female billionaire. What's most interesting about this is that Oprah grew up in extreme poverty. Some outlets report that she didn't even own a pair of shoes until she was six and literally wore potato sacks as clothing.
7 She Has An Honorary Oscar
In 2011, she was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her charity work. She has a foundation that focuses on high school education for girls. She described the honour as "unimaginable" and has said that everyone can "make a difference" and "we're all here to help each other."
6 She Hosted The Most-Watched Interview Of All Time
Oprah has interviewed more celebrities than she can probably even remember, but she probably would never forget that she interviewed Michael Jackson. It was actually the fourth most-watched event in American TV history and the number one most watched-TV interview of all time. 36 million people (yeah, you read that correctly) tuned in for it. She's credited for creating the intimate talk show format that has become her trademark and many have tried to emulate her style.
5 She Has Launched A Ton Of Careers
We could definitely argue that Oprah has uplifted many lives, but she's also launched many people's careers, including Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Nate Berkus, and Gayle King. Dr. Phil was a guest on Oprah's show who then appeared in a regular segment, and then he got his own spin-off that was produced by Oprah's Harpo productions. She was placed on Forbes' "World's Most Powerful Celebrities" list for good reason.
4 She Was Awarded The Presidential Medal Of Freedom
President Obama awarded Oprah with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that he could bestow. It's given to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” She was honored as “one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists” as well as for her philanthropic work.
3 Oprah And Gayle Have Been Besties Since 1976
Oprah and Gayle are such good friends that people have speculated that they have something going on, despite the fact that she's been with Steadman since the '80s. Gayle is the editor of Oprah's magazine, and Oprah even bought Gayle a penthouse in New York City in 2008 which cost $7.1 million. The two travel together a ton and do all that best friend stuff, and yet people still question it.
2 She Is Super Proud That She Started A School For Girls In South Africa
Of all the things that Oprah has accomplished in her lifetime, she considers opening up a girl's school in South Africa to be one of her greatest achievements. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls is a girls-only boarding school that was founded "to provide educational and leadership opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds in South Africa who exhibited leadership qualities for making a difference in the world." She was inspired by her own impoverished upbringing to open the school.
1 She Withdrew herself From Emmy Consideration
In 1998, Oprah was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy's, and her show previously won 17 Daytime Emmys.. After winning such a huge honor, she actually permantenly pulled herself out of the running and made sure she was never nominated again. She may be a hungry businesswoman but she's definitely not greedy. As she once explained, “After you’ve achieved it for a lifetime, what else is there?”