Oprah Winfrey TV Host, Producer, Actress, Author, Businesswoman. Rising Star

When we left off last week, Oprah was just getting her feet wet, doing news at local radio station in Nashville Tennessee. By 1975, Oprah moved to TV and wasthe youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. In 1977, she was recruited to co-host the local talk show “People Are Talking”, and there she started polishing her interviewing skills.
In 1983, Oprah moved on to Chicago, to host “AM Chicago”. The first episode aired on January 2, 1984 and within months the show went from last place in the ratings to beating Phil Donahue, as the highest-rated talk show in Chicago!
Oprah made her first smart business deal (one of many to come) when she signed a syndication deal to take her interview style talk show national. It was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, expanded to a full hour and broadcast nationally beginning September 8, 1986. The show quickly brought in double the viewers of that of Phil Donahue’s national audience, ousting him as the number-one daytime talk show in America.
The key to Oprah’s early success was she asked the questions people wanted to hear. She listened to the answers and the format would find a comfortable fit in the majority of American living rooms. In the early years of her national show, the program was more of a tabloid talk show. In the mid-1990s, Oprah changed from tabloid format, to hosting shows on broader topics such as heart disease, politics, spirituality, and even meditation. Interviewing celebrities on social issues they were directly involved with, such as substance abuse would become a big part of this new format.
The celebrity interviews would become must see TV. In 1993, Oprah interviewed Michael Jackson (who never gave interviews). The episode became the fourth most-watched event in American television history, as well as the most watched interview ever, with an audience of 36.5 million. Quickly A-list stars were scrambling to get a booking.
In 2005, Oprah was dipping her toe into the producing field, with the hit Broadway musical play “The Color Purple”. The musical version of the play would be a favorite of audiences for years and earn eleven Tony nominations in the first season. The play was made into a movie with Steven Spielberg as director and earned eleven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Whoopi Goldberg and Best Supporting Actress for Oprah herself. At a cost of just $15 million US to make, the film would take in $150 million US at the box office. The Oprah media giant was starting to grow.
Oprah would go on to author six books, including her autobiography “The Life You Want” (2017). At the announcement of a weight loss book in 2005, co-authored with her personal trainer Bob Greene, it was said that her undisclosed advance fee had broken the record for the world’s highest book advance fee, previously held by the autobiography of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Her book club TV episodes would become a fan favorite, and any book that Oprah recommended, would become a #1 best seller instantly. Oprah also got into the magazine world, publishing her magazines: “O”, “The Oprah Magazine” and “O at Home”. In 2006, Oprah signed a three-year, $55 million contract with XM Satellite Radio to establish a new radio channel “Oprah Radio”. It seemed anything Oprah touched turned to gold.
The “Oprah Winfrey TV Show” would go on to run for 25 seasons and 4562 episodes plus specials, between 1986 and 2011. But just because her daytime talk show came to an end, it was not the end of Oprah on TV. In 2011, Oprah launched her own TV network “OWN” (Oprah Winfrey Network). Oprah herself would only appear on the new network in occasional specials.
Earlier this year, Oprah joined the cast of the long running CBS “60 Minutes” Sunday news magazine show, as a special contributor. At only 63 years of age, I’m sure there’s still a lot more to come from Oprah, as she does not like to sit still for too long…and is not happy just counting her reported $3 BILLION US net worth.
Fred Jacobs is a full time resident of Puerto Vallarta and the author of three books.

Fred Jacobs
Fred Jacobs is a 95 year old full time resident of Puerto Vallarta. Born in Berlin, he spent his teen years under Hitlers' rise to power. He eventually made his way to New York City, where he was as a Saloonkeeper. Fred is the author of 3 books including his memoirs "From Berlin to Puerto Vallarta".

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