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Her mother, Vernita Lee (1935–2018), was a housemaid.

Winfrey's biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey (born c.

In 1983, Winfrey relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV's low-rated half-hour morning talk show, AM Chicago. Within months after Winfrey took over, the show went from last place in the ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.

The movie critic Roger Ebert persuaded her to sign a syndication deal with King World.

Her frustrated mother once again sent her to live with Vernon in Nashville, although this time she did not take her back.

Vernon was strict but encouraging, and made her education a priority.

As a child, she played games interviewing her corncob doll and the crows on the fence of her family's property.Winfrey was then sent to live with the man she calls her father, Vernon Winfrey, a barber in Tennessee, and landed a job in radio while still in high school.By 19, she was a co-anchor for the local evening news.Winfrey later acknowledged her grandmother's influence, saying it was Hattie Mae who had encouraged her to speak in public and "gave me a positive sense of myself".Working in local media, she was both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville's WLAC-TV.

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