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Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, in 1954 and was raised by her paternal grandmother until she was six. At that point, she went to live with her mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She had a troubled childhood and was sexually abused by male relatives. When she was thirteen, Oprah went to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. This proved to be a turning point in her life as she began to excel in school, winning a full scholarship to Tennessee State University.

While still in school, Oprah became the first African American and the first woman to anchor a newscast in Nashville at WTVF-TV. After graduating from college, she moved to Baltimore to work as a reporter and co-anchor for WJZ-TV. A year later, she became the co-host of the morning show "People Are Talking" in Baltimore. From there she moved to Chicago to become the host of a talk show called "A.M. Chicago." Within three months on the air, her ratings surpassed Phil Donahue's, and a year later the show went national and was renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She formed Harpo Productions the following year to become the third woman to own her own a major film studio.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" has become the highest rated talk show in television history. It has received 25 Emmy Awards, six of which were for best host. Winfrey has also been given the Woman of Achievement Award from the National Organization for Women and the Image Award three consecutive years from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Winfrey is on her way to becoming the first African American billionaire.

In 1996, TIME magazine named her one of the 25 most influential people in the world. After doing a show on the potential of mad cow disease, the consumption of cow's meat in the United States dropped significantly. This prompted a group of Texas cattle ranchers to sue Winfrey for libel. She won the suit, but it proved just how influential she is. Her on-air book club is another example of her influence. Each selection for the book club has quickly risen to the top of the bestseller list.


1954 She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi (January 29).

1960 She went to live with her mother, Vernita Lee.

1967 She went to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee.

1968 She gave birth to a premature baby who died soon after birth.

1972 She became an anchor at WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee.

1976 She graduated from Tennessee State University. She moved to Baltimore and worked as a reporter and co-anchor at WJZ-TV.

1977 She became co-host of the morning show, "People Are Talking," in Baltimore, Maryland.

1984 She became the host of "A.M. Chicago."

1985 "A.M. Chicago" was renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

1986 "The Oprah Winfrey Show" became nationally syndicated. She formed Harpo Productions. She received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for best supporting actress in THE COLOR PURPLE.

1989 She co-starred in the television miniseries THE WOMEN OF BREWSTER PLACE.

1991 She proposed the National Child Protection Act and testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

1993 The National Child Protection Act was signed into law (December).

1996 She was named one of the 25 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.

1997 She produced and starred in BEFORE WOMEN HAD WINGS. She began an on-air book club.

1998 She produced and starred in BELOVED. She won a lawsuit filed against her by a group of Texas cattlemen for libel.

1999 She launched Oxygen, a new cable television network.