From Oprah to Harpo: El Fin

Oprah Winfrey finale is a ‘love letter’, a ‘sermon’, and ‘a master class on life’

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Thursday, May 26, 4:13 PM

On Wednesday, Oprah Winfrey signed off after 25 years in daytime talk TV. Lisa

Oprah Winfrey signs off her television show for the final time. (May 25)

?A look back at the career of daytime talk queen and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

“There are no words to match this moment,” Oprah said Wednesday.

“Today, there will be no guest,
” Oprah told Wednesday’s gaily dressed studio-audience members, who’d been instructed to wear bright colors, according to news reports.

“This last hour is about me saying thank you. It is my love letter to you. I want to leave you all with the lessons that have been the anchor for my life and the ones that I hold most precious,
” she said in the finale of?“The Oprah Winfrey Show,” dressed in an elegant peach sheath, diamonds bobbing brilliantly off her wrist and ears.

That, in marked contrast to the excesses of her show’s Monday and Tuesday broadcasts, which, under the umbrella name “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular,” had featured wave after wave of celebrities making the pilgrimage to the United Center in Chicago to praise her. On Wednesday, she called the two-day walk-up to the finale a “love intervention on steroids for me.”

“You will not be getting a car or a treat,
” she told her very last studio crowd pretty much right off the bat. That was smart, because there is an expectation on the part of “Oprah” audiences that they will receive new cars, or Vera Wang wedding gowns, or honeymoon packages if they’re lucky enough to be in the studio when Oprah is marking momentous occasions — such as the first episode of this last season, when she gave every audience member a trip to Australia.

The final show was a “master class on life,” wrote Moraes, while Sally Quinn called it a “sermon.” Quinn says Oprah finally came out as a true religious leader in the show, an image she has skirted around for these last 25 years. Quinn writes:

She is America’s high priestess.

Standing for the entire show, in a simple pink dress and hair soft around her shoulders, she spoke openly and unashamedly of God.

Why has her show been so successful? she asked. ”Because of my team and Jesus.” She said. “Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me.” And she described what she thought of as God, “the one and only G-O-D. That’s what I’m talking about. “ And she added, “I know I have never been alone.”

She smiled. “How do I know this?I have felt the presence of God my whole life.”

It would be hard for even the most hardened atheist to watch Oprah’s final show and not have moments of asking how it could be anything but what she calls a “miracle,” for a poor, black, abandoned, sexually abused, overweight woman to become one of the richest, most powerful and famous people in the world.

It wasn’t just her own conviction about her faith which was so compelling, it was her manner in delivering her testimonial.

Oprah Winfrey has discovered one of the most effective ways of imparting her beliefs to others. Not by telling them what to do, but by getting them to decide what to do for themselves. She is the master of “free will,” an often controversial subject in contemporary religion.


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