Oprah Winfrey

Actress, Director

1/29/1954 (67 years old) Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States

In addition to being the host of a multiple Emmy-winning talk show, media mogul Winfrey has earned accolades for, among other things, her work as an actress, a magazine publisher, a producer and a philanthropist. Although she was born into poverty and abused as a child, Winfrey didn't allow her dire circumstances to defeat her. At 18, she won the Miss Black Tennessee pageant and a year later became the first black woman to anchor the evening news in Nashville. Winfrey further honed her broadcast skills in Baltimore before moving to Chicago to host a daily talk show in 1984. She was so popular that the series (A.M. Chicago) was renamed in her honor and became a national hit in syndication in 1986. Oprah quickly became a household name, a wildly successful yet still accessible woman who struggled with her weight and talked about surviving sexual molestation. But hosting a talk show wasn't all Winfrey had in mind. Although untrained as an actress, she was nominated for an Oscar for her powerful performance as a slave in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. (Two decades later Winfrey produced a musical version on Broadway.) She created Harpo productions to house her show and to produce socially relevant films. She also launched a monthly book segment on her show and her selections immediately became best sellers. She extended the Oprah brand in publishing by creating her own magazine (O) and in broadcasting by launching syndicated series with Dr. Phil McGraw and chef Rachael Ray. Winfrey's legacy grew even larger when she founded and funded a South African leadership school for impoverished girls she fondly referred to as her daughters. In 2011, Winfrey will wrap up her syndicated show and launch OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, described as a cable network "devoted to self-discovery."

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