5 Things You Didn't Know About The Oprah Winfrey Show

On May 25, 2011, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" aired its final broadcast, ending a 25-year run that won multiple awards over the years. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Oprah Was Already An Oscar Nominee Before Her Show Debuted Though The Oprah Winfrey Show did not premiere on a national level until the fall of 1986, audiences were already familiar with the would-be daytime queen, albeit as an actress — and an Oscar-nominated one at that. Oprah was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress six months before she made her television debut for her performance in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (she lost to Anjelica Huston for Prizzi's Honor).

Don Johnson Turned Down The Chance To Be Oprah's First Guest For her very first national show, Winfrey wanted to go big—and few stars were bigger at the time than Don Johnson of Miami Vice. But Johnson was not interested, even after Winfrey sent him a very stylish (and very expensive) pair of rhinestone sunglasses in an attempt to sway him. The experience convinced Winfrey that her show should focus on everyday people, not celebrities“ So what we came up with was a show called ‘How to Marry the Man of Your Choice,'" Winfrey explained. Johnson reappeared in 2010, on the show's final season's premiere episode, to return Winfrey's rhinestone glasses. "I know it has taken me about 24 years to get these back to you,” Johnson explained. “For clarity, I was shooting 18 to 20 hours a day at the time and it's not that I didn't wanna come, they [producers] wouldn't let me come. But I understand things have been going OK for you.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Elizabeth Taylor Was Her Worst Interview Winfrey has been candid about both her best and worst moments. When asked about her worst interview, Winfrey recalls an appearance on the show's second season with Elizabeth Taylor." It's still painful to watch," Winfrey admitted, "For many reasons—including my bad hair." Taylor informed Winfrey shortly before the interview that she did not wish to discuss any of her romantic relationships. "That's kind of hard to do when you're Elizabeth Taylor and you've been married seven times," Oprah explained. Taylor later apologized to Winfrey for the incident and admitted that she was suffering from severe hip and back pain during the interview.

Her Interview With Michael Jackson Is The Most Watched Interview In Television History On February 10, 1993, Oprah sat down with Michael Jackson for what would be the most-watched interview in television history. The unprecedented live event drew a worldwide audience of 90 million people. Barbara Walters' interview with Monica Lewinsky came in second with 74 million viewers, while The Richard Nixon interview by David Frost came in a distant third with 45 million viewers.

The Big Car Giveaway Show Cost Millions Audience members and home viewers were astonished in 2004 when Winfrey gave all 276 members of her studio audience a brand-new Pontiac G6. Winfrey wasn’t lying when she famously screamed "You get a car! You get a car! You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!"  The total cost of those cars? Just under $8 million. Those audience members weren’t as happy when they found out they had to pay taxes on it. Although Winfrey paid the registration and sales tax, gift tax still had to be paid to the IRS by the new owners. For members in the studio audience that day, the tax bill for that new car was as much as $6,000.