American talk-show host Oprah Winfrey retrospect before her final "Oprah" TV show airs on Wednesday (May 25).
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - JANUARY 6, 2011) REUTERS - ighly popular American talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential and highly paid women on television, airs her final "Oprah" show on Wednesday (May 25), bringing her quarter-century reign on U.S. national television to an end.
Winfrey made the initial announcement back in November 2009 on a live "The Oprah Winfrey Show" programme that the show would end in 2011.A star-studded send-off featuring Beyonce, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan and many others honoured the talk show queen's efforts to boost education and fight poverty on Tuesday night (May 17, 2011) at a "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular". The chat-show queen was kept in the dark about the bill that evening, which will be aired on U.S. television in two parts on May 23 and 24, before the last "Oprah" show on May 25.
Winfrey is wrapping the final season of her syndicated Chicago-based show to devote more energy to her fledgling OWN cable network, which launched in January 2011.
OWN is a Los Angeles-based joint venture she formed with Discovery Communications Inc., and will be available in more than 70 million homes.
"The Oprah Winfrey Show" which airs five days a week on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC is broadcast in more than 140 countries overseas, and is one of the TV industry's biggest money-makers and one of the top-rated U.S. daytime talk shows.
Born Oprah Gail Winfrey in rural Mississippi on January 29, 1954, Winfrey is considered a major opinion-maker in the United States and in 2009 was No. 45 on Forbes magazine's list of the world's most powerful people. In a list compiled by the British magazine New Statesman in September 2010, she was voted 38th in the list of "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures 2010".
She publicly promoted U.S. President Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign and her programme became a platform for Republican 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to launch her book, "Going Rogue."
Obama travelled to his hometown of Chicago on Wednesday (April 27, 2011) where he and First Lady Michelle Obama taped an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show". Obama discussed with the popular talk-show host his decision to release a long form version of his birth certificate.
Actor Tom Cruise, the late Michael Jackson and singer Whitney Houston are among the other celebrities to have sat on, jumped on and poured out their hearts on her couch since the programme began in 1986. Cruise had been on the show 12 times since 1988.
Determined to make her final season the best yet, Oprah Winfrey brought 302 audience members on a trip to Australia in December 2010. Winfrey's audience members were shocked when their surprise trip was announced during the "Oprah" show's 25th season premiere on September 13, 2010.
Billed as "Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure", a four-part television event aired in the U.S. from January 18 to January 21, 2011, and in Australia on January 19 to January 21 and on January 23 on Network TEN. Australians were treated to a taste of Oprah magic when she hosted a show from outside the world famous Sydney Opera House.
Highlights from the show included Oprah and her friend Gayle King's encounter with a pair of frisky koala bears. Oprah also marvels at the Great Barrier Reef as she flies above it with her camera crew.
Winfrey received a Kennedy Center Honor award in recognition of the hours dedicated to her work in December 2010.
The American talk-show queen opened a 40 million USD school for disadvantaged South African girls which she paid for out of her own pocket in January 2007. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was inspired by her own humble beginnings, struggling to survive with no electricity or running water, and as a former victim of physical and sexual abuse. Winfrey said that she hoped a better education would shield South Africa girls from contracting the HIV virus.
Winfrey was also a producer on the hit Broadway production of "The Color Purple" -- which opened successfully on December 2005 -- that received Tony Award nominations for Best Original Score. The show was drawn from Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Steven Spielberg's epic film -- which starred Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey -- of the same name.