CHICAGO — Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey bade a tearful farewell to her groundbreaking television program Wednesday, ending 25 years of star confessions and exhortations that her legions of loyal followers “live their best lives.”
In a program taped one day earlier at Oprah’s Harpo Studios in Chicago, Winfrey took to the stage and, in what had become almost a mantra over a quarter-century, urged her audience to follow their dreams. “Each one of you has your own platform,” Winfrey said in a final broadcast beamed to millions of homes across the United States. “Yours is wherever you are. That is your platform, your circle of influence, your talk show,” she said. There was a single chair onstage, but the daytime-TV doyenne stood alone and center-stage for most of the hour-long broadcast.
In a program featuring a collage of highlights from previous shows, Winfrey occasionally poked fun at her past outfits and accessories. But most of her remarks focused on what she called her “journey.” “I listened and grew,” she said. “I always wanted to be a teacher and this is the world’s biggest classroom.” Oprah Winfrey is one of a select group of celebrities who might reasonably be considered an entertainment deity in the United States. She made the transition from local television show host to national syndication in 1986 as the antithesis of what a TV talk show host was supposed to look like.
An overweight, emotive African-American woman, rather than the usual hard-driving, white male television host, she seemed an unlikely candidate for US superstardom. But her unusual blend of self-help and celebrity confessions became wildly popular with middle America, and Winfrey ultimately became one of the most successful celebrities in US and global entertainment. An estimated 40 million Americans watched her show each week, which is distributed in 150 countries. Thanks to her business savvy, Winfrey also became one of the richest women in the world, heading a multi-media entertainment conglomerate, with ventures in theater, Hollywood film, and her own cable television network.
She also is a massive force in the book publishing industry thanks to her on-air book club. She even had an influence in politics, famously risking alienating part of her viewership by endorsing then-candidate Barack Obama in the last residential election. On Monday and Tuesday, Winfrey’s program consisted of star-studded farewells taped last week at Chicago’s United Center in front of an estimated 13,000 exuberant fans. – Khaleejtimes