Oprah Winfrey is celebrating her 55th birthday this Thursday. Time magazine and CNN named her the most influential American woman. Every Oprah show is watched by millions of American and international viewers. It is estimated that due to her strong support of Barack Obama, Oprah brought him the victory in the Democratic primaries tight race against Hillary Clinton, delivering over 1 million votes for Obama. Winfrey was born to a single mother who originally named her "Orpah" after the Biblical character in the Book of Ruth.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: Oprah Gail Winfrey (born on January 29, 1954) is a popular American actress and the host of the talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. The magazine Forbes called her the most influential celebrity and the ninth most influential woman in 2005 and the first most influential woman in 2007. The net worth of Oprah is approximately estimated at $2.7 billion dollars, more than any other woman in show business.
Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi into a Baptist family. Her birth name Orpah Gail Winfrey, was given to her after the biblical character, Orpah, sister of Rufi. Conflicting information exists about how she became Oprah. According to the statement of Winfrey herself, her family and friends could not pronounce “Orpah” and therefore the places of the letters were interchanged and the same was done on the birth certificate. However, an opinion exists that the letters were messed-up by the midwife when filling in the documents of the newborn. Her parents were unmarried. Her mother – Vernita Lee was a housemaid and her father - Vernon Winfrey was a miner, then a hairdresser and subsequently became a member of the municipal council. When Oprah was born, her father was in the army. After the birth of Oprah, her mother relocated to the north and Oprah spent the first six years of her life in rural poverty, living with grandmother – Hattie Mae. Her grandmother taught Oprah to read when Oprah was not even three years old, her grandmother took her to the local church, where she was nicknamed “The Preacher” for her ability to recite verses from the Bible. When Oprah was a child, her grandmother quite often beat her with a switch when Oprah didn’t help in domestic chores or misbehaved. At the age of 6, Oprah moved to an old ghetto in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother, who was less supportive and encouraging. Oprah recounts that at the age of 9 years she was molested by cousins, uncles and their friends. Despite her dysfunctional home life, Oprah was educated enough to attend school in a suburb of Milwaukee at the age of 13 years. Even though Oprah was popular enough, she could not come to the city as frequently as her rich schoolmates could. But, as many teenagers in the late sixties, Oprah revolted and escaped from the house onto the streets. When she was 14, she became pregnant and gave birth to a male child, who died soon after the birth. Then, her upset mother sent Oprah to live in Nashville, Tennessee with her father. Vernon was strict but encouraging and made her education a priority. Oprah was one of the honor students and was voted “Most Popular Girl”. She won an oratory contest, which allowed her to become a student of the Tennessee State University, historically university for blacks, where she studied communication. At the age of 18, Oprah won “Miss Black Tennessee” in the dramatized beauty pageant. The grandmother of Oprah recounted that ever since Oprah started talking, she was always on stage. In childhood, she interviewed the corncob dolls and crows on the fence. When Oprah was 17 years old, she worked and also studied in the university. She was the youngest reporter working in the local media and the first black news-anchor on Nashville TV. In 1976, she joined Baltimore’s WJZ-TV to co-anchor the six o’clock news and started to become a local celebrity.
At present, Oprah Winfrey lives in “The Promised Land”, on 42 acres of land with an ocean and mountain view in Montecito, California, not far from Santa Barbara. According to some rumors, Winfrey liked this site, which was abandoned by the former owners, she, as reported, bought it for 50 million dollars issuing a cheque even though the site was not for sale. Oprah Winfrey also has a house in Lavallette, New Jersey, an apartment in Chicago, an estate on an island near Miami, a ski house in Telluride, Colorado and property on the Hawaiian island Maui. Winfrey operates the show from Chicago. Therefore, she spends her main time in the neighborhood of Streeterville and the rest of the time she lives in California.