Oprah Winfrey’s father told her baby’s death was ‘second chance at life’ before fame

Oprah Winfrey discusses problems with racism in 2013

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The talk show host is the 20th richest person in the world, with a fortune of £1.9 billion according to Forbes, and is considered among the most influential people in the US. Her “no subject off-limits” interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry is due to air this weekend. Oprah, a longtime friend of the royal couple, was reported to have requested a chat with the Duchess of Sussex three years ago.

Meghan claimed “The Firm” did not allow her to talk at that point and that “people from the camp” were “sitting there”, listening to her conversation.

A senior source from Buckingham Palace, who refuted the claims, told The Sun: “The Duchess was not stopped from doing anything.”

Oprah With Meghan And Harry, which airs on ITV this Monday, is likely to send shockwaves through the Royal Family.

Interest in the interview has led to many questions about the TV host and her life.

Oprah started out on local TV nearly 50 years ago on Nashville’s WTVF-TV, where she was the first black female news anchor and the youngest on the station.

Less than a decade later, she had hosted a morning talk show on a different channel and started The Oprah Winfrey Show.

The programme featured sections on pop culture issues, books and self-development.

After 1993, when Oprah interviewed Michael Jackson, she began to secure high-profile figures for tell-all chats.

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Among those she’s spoken to today are Jackson, Sarah Ferguson, Whitney Houston, Donald Trump, the Obamas and more.

During Oprah’s rise to superstardom, she claimed to have clung onto a secret about her “dark past”.

She feared the public’s response once they discovered she had given birth at 14. Sadly her baby was born prematurely and died.

Oprah was concerned the revelation would damage her career if it came out and imagined “every person on the street” pointing their finger at her in shock.

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She explained: “I imagined [them]… screaming, ‘Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl… expelled!’”

Oprah described her loss as “formative” and she believed it was unlikely she would have become a star without suffering such a trauma.

In a TV interview, she revealed her father’s wise words that helped to shape her.

Oprah said: “I never even knew how this even happened to me at the time.

“When that child died my father said to me, ‘This is your second chance, this is your opportunity to seize this moment and make something of your life.’”

The star recalled the incident in a 2011 episode Oprah’s Lifeclass and claimed to have “taken that chance”.

She said: “[I] understood for myself – even though I didn’t have the words to articulate it – ‘Now I know better, so I can do better.'”

When details about Oprah’s pregnancy came out, after an unnamed relative reportedly sold the story for $19,000 (£13,700) in 1990, she claimed to have been relieved.

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While she expected a fierce backlash from the public, “no one said a word – not strangers, not even people I knew”.

In a 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, she claimed to have been “shocked” that “nobody treated me differently”.

The star claimed to have been weighed down “for 20 years”, fearing a “reaction that never came”.

Oprah wrote: “I soon realized that having the secret out was liberating.

“What I learned for sure was that holding the shame was the greatest burden of all.”

Oprah admitted that prior to that moment, she told “no one” about her son’s death until she “felt safe” and “only” her “family and closest friends knew”.

She wrote: “I would tell no one until I felt safe enough to share my dark past.

“The years I was sexually abused, from age 10 to 14, my resulting promiscuity as a teenager and finally, at 14, my becoming pregnant.”

Oprah was “ashamed” of her pregnancy and she “hid” it until her “swollen ankles and belly” gave her away.

After the story of her pregnancy broke, she “cried for three days” and felt “devastated, wounded [and] betrayed”.

During that dark time, Oprah found strength from the support of her closest family and friends and recalled her father’s words.

In 2006, she divulged what her father had told her when counselling a pregnant teenager on her TV show.

Oprah said: “My father said to me at that time what I’m going to say to you, ‘What you have done is in the past and you alone get to determine what your future will be.’”

Oprah With Meghan and Harry will air on Sunday, March 7, in the US and at 9pm Monday on ITV in the UK.

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