Look back: 25 great ‘Oprah’ moments
When Oprah Winfrey launched her OWN network on New Year’s Day 2011, more than 1 million viewers tuned in. But the audience quickly became bored after finding few shows that featured Winfrey. These days, on an average night, OWN draws 329,000 viewers, according to ratings firm Nielsen -- roughly a 10th of the audience of a popular cable show like A&E¿s ¿Duck Dynasty.¿ (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)
Winfrey has had a long, public battle with her weight. Perhaps the most famous of her weight-loss stories happened in a 1988 episode of her
Winfrey, who is no longer a size 10, has since called this episode her “biggest, fattest” mistake. She also told Barbara Walters in a 2010 TV special that “I think I did myself a great disservice focusing so much on the external body features ... What I’ve learned is that overeating for me is about being out of balance and being disconnected and using that as a comfort for the stress.” (Charles Bennett / Associated Press)
Before the sex abuse charges, the notoriously private
One of the few things Jackson did seem to be mum about was sex. He refused to give a straight answer when Winfrey asked if he was a virgin. “I’m a gentleman,” he told Winfrey, adding that this matter was something private that he didn’t want to discuss publicly.
Photo: Michael Jackson at the 1993 Grammy Awards. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Oprah’s discussion of mad cow disease with animal welfare activist Howard Lyman led to Winfrey giving up hamburgers, but it also led to a whopping food libel lawsuit from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. in 1998. The trial was held in Amarillo, Texas, forcing Winfrey to record several shows from the Lone Star state so she could be present. The jury ruled in Winfrey’s favor, but legal maneuverings and litigation lingered until 2002, when a judge decisively found Winfrey and her production company free of any wrongdoing.
Photo: Winfrey exits the courthouse after the verdict in February 1998. (LM Otero / Associated Press)
In 1995, Oprah hired former psychologist Phil McGraw’s consulting firm to help her navigate the Texas beef trial. After her victory, Oprah invited the straight-talking “Dr. Phil” on her show in 1998, effectively launching the mustachioed self-help mogul’s television career. He soon became a weekly guest, appearing Tuesdays as a “relationship and life strategy expert” to offer advice on parenting, weight loss, financial planning and romance. In 2002, Dr. Phil graduated to his own show, produced by Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.
Photo: Oprah helps shave Dr. Phil’s trademark mustache during a live taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on May 7, 2010 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Evan Agostini / Associated Press)
In September 2004, Winfrey proved she really was the hostess with the mostest when she gave 276 audience members a brand! new! car! to celebrate the premiere of her show’s 19th season. Winfrey screamed and jumped up and down on the stage, shouting: “Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!” then led her audience to the parking lot to see the fleet of cars: a $28,400 fully loaded Pontiac G6, donated by the carmaker. Recipients had been pre-selected because friends had told the show they needed some wheels.
She started the giveaways in 1994, when she took her 131-member studio audience to
Whenever Tracey Gold would sit down with Oprah, it was bound to be memorable. Gold, pictured here in early May 2011, first went on the show as the 16-year-old star of “Growing Pains,” and the actress was in the midst of a coming-of-age battle herself. At the time, Gold was starving herself and battling anorexia. When Gold returned to Oprah in 2002, her life was also in the midst of turmoil, as her son had nearly drowned in a her pool.
Yet it was her 2005 visit that brought forth some real grown-up demons. Gold went on “The Oprah Winfrew Show” to discuss her late 2004 arrest for driving under the influence, after an accident in which she drove her SUV off a freeway and injured her husband and two of her three children. It was an emotional show. “You know, a DUI is not the worst thing,” Gold said during the episode. “Hurting somebody you love is the worst thing.” (Andy Kropa / Getty Images)
Heaven help the person who makes
In 2005, Winfrey deemed author
After the fallout, Winfrey invited Frey on her show and lashed into him by asking questions like “How much of the book is fabricated?,” “Why did you lie?” and if Frey felt as if he conned his readers as she picked apart sections of his book. Frey admitted to embellishing some of the incidents in his book. (George Burns / Associated Press)
Australian author Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book “The Secret” was published at the end of 2006, but it wasn’t until Oprah had the woman on two episodes of her show that the book, its philosophy and its DVD predecessor became a media sensation. “The Secret” espouses the power of positive thinking, and Winfrey’s endorsement of it raised the eyebrows of critics who lamented that she was using her vast influence to peddle something many considered to be a lot of hokum. (Stephen Chernin / AP)
In 2008, Oprah introduced the world to the first pregnant man. In his TV interview, Thomas Beatie, right, revealed he used to be a woman. Despite going through sexual reassignment (he’s legally considered a man), he was able to keep his ovaries and uterus intact. The married father, who now has three little ones, chose to carry the babies because his wife Nancy, left, is unable to have children. (Hermann J. Knippertz / Associated Press)
Former “One Day at a Time” actress Mackenzie Phillips shocked national audiences in September 2009 when she revealed to Oprah that she had a decade-long sexual relationship with her father
Winfrey read comments on the show made by
“When Michelle found out I was writing the book, she vowed to do everything she could to discredit me.... She’s either protecting the Mamas and Papas brand or is having a textbook reaction: She’s embarrassed, sweep it under the carpet, protect the abuser,” Phillips told Winfrey. (Chris Pizello / Associated Press; Angela Weiss / Getty Images)
Oprah invited the Black Eyed Peas to perform at her Season 24 kickoff party on
Fergie made another appearance on Oprah’s show, pictured here, to promote her reality series “Finding Sarah,” which will air on OWN. She also spoke out about her snub from Prince William and