Sunday, May 22, 2011

Farewell My Dear Friend Oprah

After a quarter of a century, Oprah Winfrey will cease production of her eponymous talk show this week. Twenty-five years ago no one even knew who or what an Oprah was, but today the entire world knows the meaning of that now ubiquitous name.

Talk show host. Producer. Television pioneer. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. The titles one could bestow upon Oprah Winfrey are endless. To her viewing audience she has become our friend, our mentor, and the person we most want to spend our afternoons with. Her weekly chat fest reached 40 million homes in the U.S. alone, and was broadcast in 145 countries around the world. That’s quite a sizable audience that has been entertained, educated and influenced by the words and actions of one iconic figure.

In twenty five years, Oprah has not only changed the face of television, but the lives of the millions who tuned in to watch. She introduced us to “a-ha” moments, encouraged us to “live our best lives”, motivated us to read with her enormously successful book club selections, and even went as far as educating us about our poop. She’s enriched and enlivened our lives with her words of wisdom, her warmth and grace, and let’s not forget her litany of favorite things.

As a television viewing audience, we’ve seen Oprah struggle with her weight, fluctuating from high to low and back again. Who doesn’t remember a triumphant Oprah in her size 10 Calvin Klein jeans rolling out a wheelbarrel containing 67 pounds of fat, symbolic of the weight she lost?

But we never judged her when she put the weight back on; we only loved her even more for demonstrating her humanity.

Over the years, Oprah has introduced us to our idols, the rising stars of tomorrow, and brought back our favorite stars of yesteryear. She even introduced us to her family, while becoming a part of our own. We met her best friend, Gayle King, who instantly became ours as well. We met the love of Oprah’s life, Steadman Graham, their menagerie of dogs, and most recently even her long lost half-sister Pat.

She’s generously gifted entire studio audiences with brand new cars, trips to Australia and a plethora of the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets during her highly anticipated holiday editions. But Oprah has given us more than just a-ha moments and things, she’s given us hope and restored our faith in the notion that anything is possible; after all, she’s the ultimate example.

And just like Oprah, who ends her magazine each month with a column titled What I Know For Sure, I think it’s safe to say what we all know for sure is that when the lights go dark on The Oprah Winfrey Show, there will be an enormous void left not only in television, but also in the lives of the millions of us who tuned in day after day to watch the woman we so loving called our friend

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