Winfrey was born on Jan. 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. After living with her mother in a small farming community, where she was sexually abused by male relatives and friends, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to live with her father, then a barber and businessman. In 1971, she began her undergraduate studies at Tennessee State University and gained exposure to and began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
The Mississippi native launched her career as a TV-host when she hosted "People Are Talking," a chat show that became an instant hit. She remained there for eight years before hosting "A.M. Chicago." She was later recruited by a Chicago TV station and offered the opportunity to host her own morning program. Winfrey's amicable personality and charm led the show to first place in ratings, beating her competitor Phil Donahue. Her success also landed her a role in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film "The Color Purple," for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.
In 1986, Winfrey launched "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which grossed $125 million by the end of its first year. She soon gained ownership of her show from ABC and titled her company Harpo Productions, her first name spelled backwards. Winfrey gained more respect and popularity when she decided to gear her show towards topics not discussed by tabloids.
Winfrey's success is not limited to the television and film industries, however. In 1995, she competed in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. after losing approximately 90 pounds. She further gained popularity after initiating "Oprah's Book Club" and debuting O: The Oprah Magazine in 2000.
In September of 2002, Winfrey was named the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.
Information has been compiled from Biography.com.
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