Today I'm sharing some surprising facts about the "Queen of Media." From her dirt poor upbringing to her celebrity stardom, we all know Oprah Winfrey has had an exceptional career, but wait until you here these unexpected Oprah facts!

  1. Winfrey was named "Orpah" after the biblical character in the Book of Ruth on her birth certificate, but people mispronounced it regularly and "Oprah" stuck
  2. As a child, Oprah Winfrey was nicknamed "The Preacher" for her ability to recite Bible verses as her grandmother often took her to church
  3. Winfrey was born the daughter of an unwed teen.
  4. At age 17, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant.
  5. Oprah Winfrey's family was so poor growing up that, as a child, Winfrey was teased at school for wearing dresses made of potato sacks.
  6. Oprah Winfrey is at least 8% Native American--something she discovered when undergoing a DNA test for the PBS show African American Lives.
  7. Winfrey had a son when she was 14 years old who died as an infant.
  8. Oprah Winfrey openly discussed her childhood sexual abuse suffered at the hands of male relatives and her mother's friends on a special episode of her show focusing on sexual abuse in 1986.
  9. Oprah was anchoring the news at Nashville's WTVF-TV when she was just 19, making her the youngest person and the first African-American woman to hold the position.
  10. Winfrey has donated her voice for an array cartoon characters, voicing Gussie the goose for Charlotte's Web, and Eudora, the mother of Princess Tiana in Disney's The Princess and the Frog, among others.
  11. Oprah Winfrey has interviewed countless celebrities, including Michael Jackson, whose interview became the 4th most watched event in American television history, as well as the most watched interview of all-time, with 36 million viewers.
  12. Winfrey credits her grandmother for guiding her towards success, saying that it was Hattie Mae who encouraged her to speak up in public, giving Winfrey confidence at an early age and a positive sense of self.
  13. Winfrey was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple.
  14. Winfrey is credited for popularizing the intimate, confessional form of talk show, which has since become common across cable networks.
  15. She was instrumental in launching Oxygen Media, dedicated to producing cable programming specifically for women.
  16. Oprah Winfrey is the first black woman billionaire and the richest African-American woman.
  17. She is also referred to by many as the most influential woman in the world.
  18. In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation's highest civilian honor) by President Barack Obama.
Published on: Mar 26, 2015
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