Long before Beyoncé was ready to run the world, we had Oprah Winfrey. Her legendary Oprah Winfrey Show ran for 25 years, and during its influential reign, you’d be hard-pressed to find a topic the talk show Queen failed to cover. A role model for grandmothers and grandchildren alike, she was—and continues to be—the definition of a boss. Even now, six years after her show's swansong, the 64-year-old OWN network founder is flourishing—though decidedly NOT running for president of the United States. And did we mention that she’s also a critically acclaimed actress, published author, longtime philanthropist, and major film producer?
In celebration of Winfrey's 64th birthday, we’ve rounded up the most iconic, most groundbreaking moments from her illustrious talk show. From Ellen DeGeneres’s coming-out interview to Tom Cruise’s infamous couch moment (not pictured, but not to be forgotten), Oprah has seen it all.
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Happy birthday, Oprah! Thank you for continuing to inspire us.
1. The Weight Loss Wagon, 1988
Winfrey took a 1988 episode of her show to boast her 67-pound weight loss. And in the spirit of "show, don't tell," Winfrey added a visual aid, wheeling out a red wagon holding 67 pounds of fat. Say what you will about this graphic move, but we’re all for the talk show host OWNing her achievements.
2. Ellen’s Coming Out Interview, 1997
After revealing her sexuality on the cover of Time Magazine, Ellen DeGeneres openly discussed the topic on The Oprah Winfrey Show. At the time, in 1997, the episode generated a lot of controversy. Audience members actually criticized DeGeneres’s decision to come out of the closet, but this was a huge step towards equality in the media (and country) and Oprah made sure her show was a safe place for all.
3. The Great Car Giveaway, 2004
“You get a car! You get a car! EVERYBODY GETS A CAR!” Oprah made her audience’s day/life when she gave every single member a Pontiac G6. This may be one of the most uplifting moments in talk show history (and has become a frequently referenced meme). We dare you to watch the big reveal without shedding a tear.
4. The Obamas Make History, 2011
For the first time ever, The Oprah Winfrey Show hosted a sitting President and First Lady when the Obamas made their way to the Chicago-based set in May, 2011.
5. Oprah Meets Michael Jackson, 1993
At the time, Winfrey's sit-down with the King of Pop was the most-watched TV interview in history. Ninety million people tuned in for Jackson's Oprah segment—his first interview in 14 years.
6. The Book Club Begins, 1996
Twenty years ago, book-lover Oprah changed the face of the publishing industry with the debut of her immensely popular book club. Winfrey’s picks have historically gone on to receive incredible acclaim following her stamp of approval.
7. Lance Armstrong Comes Clean, 2013
In a special interview, Oprah sat down with the Tour de France champion to discuss his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Winfrey approached the controversial segment with her usual grace and compassion.