Timeline Description: Entrepreneur, philanthropist, producer, actress, and television host Oprah Winfrey is best known for her daytime talk show. However, her actions in humanity, charity, and philanthropy surpass any amount of television popularity.
|January 29, 1954||Winfrey was born.
Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Oprah Gail Winfrey was raised in a small farming community. She lived with her housemaid mother, and was sexually abused by several male friends of her mother. Oprah was originally named Orpah from the Bible, but the mispronunciation stuck.
|1962||Oprah’s mother left.
Oprah’s mother was having problems raising three children. She left Oprah with the man believed to be her father in Nashville, but took her back after a few years.
|1967||Oprah ran away.
Winfrey, at the age of fourteen, ran away from the abuse in her home. She became pregnant, but her son died shortly after his birth. Oprah began to steal money, date older men, and disrespect her mother, so she was sent to Nashville to live with her father again.
|1971||Oprah attended East Nashville High School.
Oprah’s accomplishments with the school speech team landed her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. She also won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. During school, she was hired at a local black radio station, WVOL, to do the news part time.
|August 14, 1978||Oprah became the youngest news anchor and first black female news anchor.
Oprah stated that Hattie Mae, her grandmother, encouraged her career. She was supportive when Oprah became WJZ’s new co-host of several local talk shows.
|1978||Oprah told her mother about the abuse.
After sharing with her mother that she was molested by a family friend, uncle, and cousin, Oprah’s mother called her a liar.
|1983||Winfrey moved to Chicago.
To host a low rated morning talk show, Oprah relocated to Chicago. AM Chicago soon became the highest rated Chicago talk show. She was convinced by Roger Ebert to sign a deal for syndication.
|1984||The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Ebert’s television show, At The Movies, was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show doubled Phil Donahue’s audience and replaced him as the number one talk show host.
|1985||Oprah brushed up on her acting skills.
Nominated for an Academy Award, Oprah starred in The Color Purple. She won best supporting actress and went on to star in many more films.
|1990||Oprah’s show changed.
Sometime in the mid 1990’s, Oprah adopted a format that focused less on tabloids and more on significant topics. Spirituality, meditation, celebrity interviews on social issues, and medical information were her new topics.
|1993||Oprah interviewed Michael Jackson.
A rare interview with the King of Pop took place during prime time. It became the third most watched interview ever.
The Oprah magazine was the most successful startup magazine in the industry. It has been a best seller since 2006.
|2004||Oprah’s philanthropic acknowledgement.
Oprah became the first African American woman among the 50 most generous people. She has given over $400 million to educational causes and more than 400 scholarships.
|January 15, 2008||Oprah got her own network.
The Discovery Health channel was turned into OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The channel was delayed, launching in 2011.
|2013||Oprah gave to the Smithsonian.
Donating $12 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Oprah was awarded the presidential medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.Oprah currently lives on “The Promised Land,” her 42 acre estate in Montecito, California. Her land has ocean and mountain views. She also owns a home in New Jersey, an apartment in Chicago, and an estate in Florida, as well as a ski home in Colorado and properties in Maui and Hawaii. She continues to be successful with the media and in her philanthropic endeavors.