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Oprah Winfrey

A one-woman cultural phenomenon, Oprah Winfrey has steadily enlarged her media influence beyond the daytime talk-show format she conquered and has dominated since the mid-1980s.

She is notable for her unique bond with American women, her extraordinary business instincts, and her ability to appeal consistently to a mass audience without ever compromising her own intelligence or personal standards. As these words are written, she remains a global icon and the most indomitable current hero of the American rags-to-riches story.


Where did Oprah get her start? At the age of 19, Oprah was anchoring a local news broadcast in Tennessee. She was the station's youngest anchor ever and the first African-American to hold the top news job there.

Winfrey has won numerous accolades for her broadcasting, publishing, and philanthropic work, and today oversees a multimedia empire as head of Harpo, Inc.; Harpo Productions, Inc.; Harpo Studios, Inc.; Harpo Films, Inc.; Harpo Print, LLC; and Harpo Video, Inc. Her show has received, at last count, 35 Emmy awards.

In 2001, Newsweek magazine named Winfrey the “Woman of the Century.” Considering the extraordinary events of her life (especially the humble origins and social obstacles this modern-day media titan faced as a child in rural Mississippi), it was an inspired choice.

Potent Quotes

Winfrey's outlook on life and business radiates an optimism and energy that is an important part of her appeal. “I don't believe in failure,” she has said. “It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.”

She has managed to keep her perspective on her own enormous success: “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo … but what you need is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

To Learn More About Oprah Winfrey …

Visit for detailed info on Oprah's life story, achievements, and current projects, courtesy of Oprah Winfrey's official website.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History © 2003 by Melba J. Duncan. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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