Oprah Winfrey (born January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi) is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in America. A black woman born to humble beginnings, she started as a Baltimore news anchor. Soon she had her own daytime talk show, called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (and later abbreviated to "Oprah") which originally followed traditional talk show formats. By the late 1990s, however, the format became more serious, addressing issues that Winfrey thought were of direct importance and crucial consequences to women. Winfrey began to do huge amounts of work for charity and feature those suffering from poverty or untimely accidents on her show.
Winfrey has often discussed openly various aspects of life, including those more unpleasant ones, with the media, including a sexually abusive childhood and a problem with drugs as an adult. Her own weight fluctuations have caused her to be a weight-loss guru. In the late 1990s, Winfrey introduced her "book club" on television. When she introduced a book on the air, it would within a week be a best seller. It was at this moment that it was realized just what a powerful media influence she was. During a 1996 aired show about Mad Cow disease, Winfrey said, "It has just stopped me from eating another burger!" In 1998, Oprah was sued by Texas cattle ranchers in a beef-defamation lawsuit because according to the cattle producers the remarks by Winfrey subsequently sent cattle prices tumbling, costing them $12 million. In the end, the jury said Oprah was not liable for damages.
Winfrey has started The Angel Network, an organization that collects millions of dollars a year for charities. She publishes her own magazine, called "O," and has her own cable television network, called Oxygen. She is the president of Harpo Productions, which, among other things, produced the successful screen adaptation of the Toni Morisson novel Beloved. Winfrey has also ventured into acting, most notably in the screen adaptation of the Alice Walker novel The Color Purple (for which she received an Oscar nomination) and in her own production Beloved. Winfrey is also a published author, and in 2002 she received a special Emmy award called The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. Winfrey is based in Chicago, Illinois but has a home in Montecito, California; she is reported to have recently been buying property on Maui.