Perhaps the most popular and most successful daytime television talk show in the history of the medium, The Oprah Winfrey Show concluded its historic 25-year run on May 25, 2011. To celebrate the departure (for more creative pastures on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, we present 10 Memorable Moments from ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’.
1. Sister Act
In late 2010, Oprah discovered she had a half-sister. It was a revelation that “shook her to her core.” More amazing? Her half-sister, a 48-year-old Milwaukee woman named Patricia, knew she was Winfrey’s sister for more than 3 years and never once tried to profit from the knowledge. “Family business should be handled by family,” Patricia told Winfrey on the show, further explaining how she wanted to tell Winfrey directly rather than reveal it through a third party.
2. Oprah Interviews Michael Jackson
In 1993, Oprah received unprecedented access to Michael Jackson, the late pop icon, at his Neverland Ranch in California. The primetime interview included a tour of the 2,700-acre facility was part of the 90-minute special. The interview was live and broadcast around the world.
3. Oprah Gives James Frey The What-For, Later Apologizes
In 2005, Oprah bestowed upon author James Frey the greatest gift of all. She selected his book, A Million Little Pieces for inclusion in the Oprah Book Club. The book sold millions. Then it turned out Frey’s non-fiction memoir was, in fact, greatly fabricated. Winfrey brought Frey on to the show in 2006 and told him she felt “duped” and that he had betrayed his readers. Frey apologized on air for “lying” to his readers. Nevertheless, the public lashing caused his publishing company to drop him. Then, in 2009, Oprah apologized to Frey for the public lashing. Frey returned again during the final 10 episodes of Oprah to rehash the whole event.
4. Tom Cruise is in Love – or Insane
The episode aired in 2005 and will live in infamy – at least for movie star Tom Cruise. Apparently hepped up on life and his blossoming relationship with actress Katie Holmes, Cruise leapt up on Oprah’s couch and started jumping up and down. You can still see the video, during which Cruise talks about being in love, can’t sit still in his seat, leaps up on the couch – and generally makes a fool of himself. As people in love often do, I suppose.
5. “You Get a Car! You Get a Car! You Get a Car!”
Oprah is probably most famous for this line, bellowed excitedly during the premiere episode of season 19. During that episode, Oprah and her staff dolled out nearly 300 brand new cars to everyone in the audience. It was also the episode that planted the seed for bigger and more bombastic season premieres, such as her 2010-2011 premiere.
6. The Oprah Winfrey Show Comes to an End
Sure to be a spectacle, Oprah will end her syndicated television run on May 25th with a two-hour hush-hush episode. Speculation as to what Oprah has in store to see off her millions of fans runs from a star-studded spectacular to an intimate one-on-one episode with no studio audience. Either way, fans need not fear. They can find all the Oprah they want over on OWN.
7. “We’re All Going to Australia!”
To kick off her final season of the syndicated Oprah, Winfrey had to top her car giveaway. So she decided to take more than 300 audience members to The Land Down Under. She mimicked her famous moment by yelling, “We’re going to Australia! We’re going to Australia! You and you and you and you, are going to Australia!”
8. Mr. Poitier
Oprah fans know the talk show host finds inspiration in the life and work of actor Sidney Poitier. So it’s no surprise that she stood speechless when Poitier visited the show – as a surprise – to help celebrate the show’s 20th season. On top of it all, Oprah just finished sharing an anecdote about how she felt as though she wasn’t worthy to interview Poitier, and that a past interview had gone terribly wrong because she was too afraid to ask “the right questions.” Poitier kindly disagreed.
9. A Wagon Full of Fat
Oprah is known for her yo-yo weight loss. She’s up, she’s down, she’s up, she’s down. Oprah started the whole thing – at least in terms of fans and critics keeping tabs on her weight – during a 1988 episode when she wheeled out a wagon filled with 67 pounds of fat. That fat represented the weight she’d lost over a four month period. On her official website, Oprah says the episode was the “biggest, fattest” mistake she’s made on-air. The show remains the highest-ranking episode in its 25-year history.
10. Let’s Talk Mad Cow
Oprah’s 1996 episode about Mad Cow’s disease did a number on the beef industry – and led to a well-known lawsuit. A group of Texas cattlemen got together to take on Oprah, but to no avail. She won the court case – four years after it was initially filed. During that time, she worked with a man named Dr. Phil McGraw. Dr. Phil would later become a regular guest on Oprah before launching his own program (with Oprah’s help).