Oprah Winfrey brought down the curtain on her syndicated daytime talk show on Wednesday calling it both a “love letter” and “the last class.” “There are no words to match this moment,” Oprah said at the top of the show — the farewell episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show after a 25-year run.
The queen of daytime talk TV told her last studio crowd almost immediately, “You will not be getting a car or a treat.” She was smart to remove any hopes of free gifts, given how many ‘Oprah’ audiences have been on the receiving end of new cars or Vera Wang wedding gowns or honeymoon packages or — as she provided during the first episode of her final season — tickets to Australia.
Some in the Chicago audience had worked hard to earn a seat for the finale, submitting essays on oprah.com about why they should be among the lucky ones to snag tickets, according to media reports.
“Today, there will be no guest,” Oprah told the gaily dressed audience members, who, reports said, had been instructed to wear bright colours.
“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,” said Oprah, dressed in a beautiful dress, gorgeous diamond bracelets and earrings bobbing brilliantly off her wrist and ears.
This came in marked contrast to the excesses of her last two broadcasts, which, under the umbrella name Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular, had featured wave after wave of celebrities making the pilgrimage to Chicago’s United Center to praise Oprah.
Oprah called the farewell a “love intervention on steroids for me.” “Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the job of doing it,” she told viewers. “Don’t waste any more time. Start embracing the life that is calling you, and use your life to serve the world.”
She also addressed the culture of victimhood. “Nobody but you is responsible for your life. It doesn’t matter what your mama did; it doesn’t matter what your daddy didn’t do. You are responsible for your life... Jerry Maguire was just a movie — no one completes you”, she said as her studio audience listened sombrely.
The Oprah Winfrey Show made its live national debut on Sept. 8, 1986. Oprah said she has been able to do the show for 25 years without missing a workday because of “my team and Jesus. Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me.”
“I won’t say goodbye,” Oprah said as the hour came to a close. “I’ll just say, ‘Until we meet again.’” When we’ll “meet again” is January 2012. That’s when the Oprah Winfrey Network — a venture with Discovery Communications — has said it will launch the prime-time show Oprah’s Next Chapter, on which Oprah is expected to go globe-trotting with celebrity friends.