Editor’s Note: The David Eccles School of Business is celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing the successes of women business leaders who have made big impacts in the business world.

Oprah Winfrey may be one of the most iconic women in U.S. business history. She is an actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist. Her best-known work is the Oprah Winfrey Show, which revolutionized the daytime talk show as it ran from 1986 to 2011 in Chicago and became the highest-rated television program of its kind in the United States.

Winfrey is the richest African-American of the 20th century and North America’s first black multi-millionaire.

She was born Jan. 29, 1954 in impoverished rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later was raised in inner-city Milwaukee. Winfrey has talked openly about her history of being molested as a child and teenager, and she gave birth to a premature son at age 14 who died in infancy. Shortly after his passing, she moved to Tennessee to be raised by the man she calls father, Vernon Winfrey, a barber. She landed a job in radio while still in high school, and by 19 she was a co-anchor for a local television news station. She realized she was better-suited for daytime talk shows and helped skyrocket a third-place Chicago talk show to No. 1. She then launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.

She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994, and she continues to be incredibly successful as she leads her production and publication empire. She has launched many authors through her book club, and products she endorses often end up earning millions of dollars in sales.

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