1. Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood.
2. She experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, saying she was raped at age nine and became pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy. Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19.
3. Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime-talk-show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.
4. Credited with creating a more intimate confessional form of media communication, By the mid-1990s she had reinvented her show with a focus on literature, self-improvement, and spirituality.
5. Though criticized for unleashing a confession culture, promoting controversial self-help ideas,
6. Winfrey was named “Orpah” after the biblical figure in the Book of Ruth on her birth certificate, but people mispronounced it regularly and “Oprah” stuck.
7. Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to an unmarried teenage mother.
8. She later said that her conception was due to a single sexual encounter and the couple broke up not long after. Her mother, Vernita Lee (born c. 1935), was a housemaid.
9. Winfrey’s biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey (born 1933), a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when she was born.
10. However, Mississippi farmer and World War II veteran Noah Robinson, Sr. (born c. 1925) has claimed to be her biological father. A genetic test in 2006 determined that her matrilineal line originated among the Kpelle ethnic group, in the area that today is Liberia.
11. Her genetic makeup was determined to be 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian.
12. However, the East Asian may, given the imprecision of genetic testing, actually be Native American markers.
13. When Winfrey was a child, her grandmother would hit her with a stick when she did not do chores or if she misbehaved in any way.
14. Winfrey has stated she was molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend, starting when she was nine years old, something she first announced to her viewers on a 1986 episode of her TV show regarding sexual abuse.
15. She began to steal money from her mother in an effort to keep up with her free-spending peers, to lie to and argue with her mother, and to go out with older boys.