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The show does not attempt to profit off the products it endorses; it has had no licensing agreement with retailers when products were promoted, nor has the show made any money from endorsing books for its book club. Winfrey took over as host on January 2, 1984 and, within a month, took it from last place to first place in local Chicago ratings.

Following Winfrey's success in—and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for—her performance as Sofia in the movie The Color Purple, on September 8, 1986, the talk show was relaunched under its current title and picked up nationally.

Unable to control herself, Winfrey repeatedly asked producers to stop filming.

Erin Kramp, a mother dying of breast cancer, appeared on the show in 1998.

Later in the interview, Jackson was joined by his close friend Elizabeth Taylor, her third appearance on the show.

Winfrey's interview with Tom Cruise, which was broadcast on May 23, 2005, also gained notoriety.

She realized that being in such a position within the media industry, she could make a positive difference in people's lives. I was doing some scenes—Beloved is about an ex-slave, and during that process of doing that I connected to really what slavery had meant, and my own personal ancestry and history connected it to a way I have never before from reading all about Black history and, you know, talking to relatives.

Winfrey was once again inspired to continue to help people take better control of their destinies, hence her slogan, "Live Your Best Life". And I realized that I had no right to quit coming from a history of people who had no voice, who had no power, and that I have been given this—this blessed opportunity to speak to people, to influence them in ways that can make a difference in their lives, and to just use that.

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Winfrey has used the show as an educational platform, featuring book clubs, interviews, self-improvement segments, and philanthropic forays into world events. Chicago, a half-hour morning talk show airing on WLS-TV, an ABC owned-and-operated station in Chicago.Cruise "jumped around the set, hopped onto a couch, fell rapturously to one knee and repeatedly professed his love for his then-girlfriend, Katie Holmes." This scene quickly became part of American pop-cultural discourse and was heavily parodied in media.Celine Dion appeared on the show 28 times, the most of any celebrity, besides Gayle King, Winfrey's best friend, who appeared 141 times.Winfrey claims her worst interviewing experience was with Elizabeth Taylor in the show's second season.Just before the interview, Taylor asked Winfrey not to ask any questions about her relationships.

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