Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul, Dies at 54

July 21, 2008
Kennedy Vermilion

“Every time you state what you want or believe, you're the first to hear it. It's a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don't put a ceiling on yourself,” Oprah Winfrey said in 2003.

Winfrey, the $1.5 billion media mogul, who started The Oprah Winfrey Show and starred in Steven Speilberg’s The Color Purple passed away on July 21, 2008. She was one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2004 and 2005. She was also ranked as number one on the Forbes’ Power Celebrity List in 2005.


Over the years, Winfrey has donated millions of dollars and established organizations and foundations to support diverse groups of people. ChristmasKindness South Africa 2002, initiated by Winfrey, brought gifts of food, athletic shoes, clothing, books, school supplies and toys to 50,000 children from rural schools and orphanages. Families from around the world donated these items to send to the children. In January of 2007, the famous talk show host opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa which provided them with leadership and educational opportunities.

Winfrey passed away on July 21 during an incident involving one of her philanthropic organizations. She planned a visit with the Foundation for Zoo Animals to help the San Diego Zoo employees feed the animals. Around noon, Winfrey was aiding the zookeeper, Phineas Jones, by feeding the penguins. She swung the raw fish in the air while telling Jones about her latest award and the birds felt teased. Winfrey was attacked by the penguins. Jones attempted to shoo the birds, but Winfrey died after two minutes of pecking.

Winfrey’s favorite animal was the penguin. Most would say it was an unfortunate death, but her family assures Winfrey would be glad she passed with the penguins.

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