Throughout her career, she has made broadcasting history. Her universal appeal has made her a fortune that just keeps on growing. She has overcome desperate beginnings to become a TV and media juggernaut. This Saturday, Jan. 31, 12 p.m. ET, watch ‘Headliners and Legends: Oprah Winfrey.' She celebrates her 50th birthday this week.
Here are five things you might not have known about Oprah:
1) Oprah’s first public-speaking engagement was when she was 2 years old. She told the resurrection story in her church.
2) She was a beauty queen—first Miss Fire Prevention in Nashville, then Miss Black Tennessee. Of the Miss Fire Prevention contest, she says, “Nobody expected me to win. Certainly I didn't. They asked the question, ‘What would you like to do if you had a million dollars?’ and they expect you to say, ‘Oh, if I had a million dollars, I'd give it to the poor.’ But I said, ‘If I had a million dollars, I'd spend it! I'd be a spendin' fool'”
3) Oprah became the youngest news anchor at a Nashville TV station at age 19. The CBS affiliate in Nashville was looking for minority employees and offered Winfrey an on-air reporting job. Years later, she described how she was hesitant to take the job until a professor encouraged her: “I turned them down. Finally, I had a college professor, Mr. Cox, who said, ‘You are the biggest fool I ever saw. That is why people go to college, fool, so that CBS can call them.’”
By 1973, earning $15,000 a year, Winfrey is the first female and the first black newscaster to ever hit the air in Nashville.
4) She began dating Chicago businessman Stedman Graham in 1986. Initially, Oprah rejected Graham’s offers to get together, and it is only after the third attempt, when he said he wouldn’t call again, that they went on a date. Seven years later, in the fall of 1992, the couple got engaged. But the wedding never happens, supposedly because of conflicting schedules. They have been keeping us guessing about their intentions ever since.
5) Today, Winfrey’s wealth is estimated at more than one billion dollars,making her the first African-American woman to become a billionaire. In June 2001, in what may be one of the priciest residential deals ever in U.S. real estate, Oprah reportedly purchased her California dream house for $50 million. And rumor has it, she paid for it with a personal check.
Learn more about the woman millions of people know by her first name alone: Oprah. ‘Headliners and Legends:Oprah Winfrey' airs on MSNBC, Saturday, 12 noon ET.