Home > Entertainment > Oprah Winfrey Signs Off Today After 25 Years of Hosting ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’

Oprah Winfrey Signs Off Today After 25 Years of Hosting ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’

hen Funda Ray arrived on these shores two decades ago from her native Turkey, she hardly spoke English. But she learned, went to school and even college. Today, she works as a financial adviser’s assistant. And it’s all because of Oprah.

“She inspired me so much,” said Ray, 44, of Hibbing, Minnesota. “If it wasn’t for her, I would have sat at home.”

Ray is recording the last episode of Oprah Winfrey’s show Wednesday — she won’t be home in time to watch. “I’m going to miss her so much,” she said.

Oprah Winfrey Signs Off Today After 25 Years of Hosting ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’

The talk show queen is signing off after 25 years, capping off three days of a farewell show that included appearances by Hollywood’s top celebrities.

Winfrey announced in 2009 that she was leaving the show that catapulted her into a household name and made her a part of American culture and a worldwide celebrity. Even Ray’s mother, who arrived from Istanbul for a U.S. visit last week, got off the plane and asked her daughter: “Do you know Oprah is retiring?”

Winfrey’s popularity and credibility go hand in hand: If she gushed about a book, it became an instant best-seller. An appearance on her show was almost always followed by a rise in profile for the guest.

Paula Pervall, 44, administrative assistant at the Elmhurst House of Friendship, an assisted living home in Wheeling, West Virginia, is among millions of Oprah fans.

“I think that it’s sad that the up-and-coming generation is not going to be able to experience what she offered my generation — the self-help, the inspiration to do better,” Pervall said. “She was very inspiring to people. She taught a lot of lessons.”

The most important lesson? “To be the best me that I can be.”

She’s had a lot of great people on the show, Pervall said.

She remembers the woman who had the face transplant; she was from West Virginia — “that one jumps out at me.” Another show featured someone kicked out of a West Virginia town because of HIV.

Winfrey taped a teary finale last week that included a surprise tribute from superstars including Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jordan, Will Smith and Madonna.

The finale aired in three parts starting Monday and featured surprise appearances as — one by one — dozens of Winfrey’s famous friends took to the stage to pay tribute to the talk show host at Chicago’s United Center.

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