In a trailblazing turn for the talk-show medium, Dr. Phil's frequent appearances on Oprah's show in the late '90s led to what amounted to a spin-off. (They first met when he was brought in to prep her to defend a food-libel court case in '95.) And look how culture has reaped the rewards: He can holler at and condescend to people every day, courtesy of Oprah's Harpo Productions.
2 of 18 Barbara Nitke/CNBC
Actually, she would have been fine even without Oprah's help (she was writing books on personal finance and appearing on television for years), but her column in O and her status as one of Oprah's All-Stars certainly ensure a beyond-comfortable future.
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Via runways, magazines, movies and George Michael videos, Banks embedded herself in the public consciousness. But it wasn't until 1999 as Oprah's "Youth Correspondent" that she started to flesh out the persona that would go on to anchor her brand. Today, she's a full-blown mogul whose hand-in-every-pot aesthetic feels a lot like … well, Oprah's.
4 of 18 Oprah Winfrey Network
LUCKIEST BEST FRIEND EVER.
5 of 18 Dr. Oz Show
Appearing on Winfrey’s show in 2004 sent off a chain reaction that made Dr. Mehmet Oz America's next top cardiothoracic surgeon/talking head. Most notable in his resume of TV appearances is that his tenure as Oprah's medical expert lasted five years, leading into his very own hour of daytime television that launched in the fall 2009, courtesy of Harpo Productions.
6 of 18 Harpo Productions
What Oprah giveth she sometimes taketh away. But sometimes she giveth it back again. Less than a year after Winfrey chose Frey’s recovery memoir A Million Little Pieces for her book club, which propelled it to the top of the bestseller lists, Winfrey took the author to task for a spectacularly awkward live hour in which Frey revealed that many of the book’s more dramatic details had been fabricated. In May 2011, the two reprised the sitdown, but this time it was Winfrey who apologized for "letting her ego lead" during their last conversation.
7 of 18 Jacquelyn Mitchard
Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was inspired by an idea that came to her in a dream. A very different dream came true when Oprah selected her book as the first entry in the Oprah Book Club in 1996. Ocean stayed on the best-seller list for 29 weeks, 13 at No. 1. All told, it sold more than 3 million copies and launched a fiction career for this ex-journalist that has included almost 20 books for adults and children.
8 of 18 Harpo Productions
For nearly two years, Vanzant was The Oprah Winfrey Show’s official relationship expert. But in 2000, she left the show abruptly to start her own show, the circumstances of which were murky at best. Eleven years later, Winfrey brought Vanzant back to the show to hash out the controversy surrounding her departure, demonstrating the media mogul’s capacity for forgiveness.
9 of 18 Nate Berkus Show
What Dr. Oz is to hearts and Dr. Phil is to self-esteem (or whatever!), Nate Berkus is to curtains and ottomans. Oprah's go-to interior designer spent years on her show before, you guessed it, landing his own. In 2010, The Nate Berkus Show began airing, courtesy of Harpo Productions.
10 of 18 Harpo Productions
He was to Oprah's fitness what Rosie Daley was to her nutrition: most notably, a collaborator on a book. Make the Connection: Ten Steps to a Better Body and a Better Life was released in 1996. More than 10 books from Greene followed.
11 of 18 Knopf
Oprah's first major foray into book-peddling was 1994's In the Kitchen with Rosie, a collaboration with her personal chef, Rosie Daley. Six years after famously wheeling out a wagon of fat symbolic of her weight loss, Winfrey was in the thick of weight-loss guidance and this No. 1 best-seller showed how grand the scale was: Its first run was a cool 400,000.
12 of 18 Harpo Productions
Oprah got the early word out on this poet who, living with muscular dystrophy, published his first book when he was 11. By the time he died just short of his 14th birthday, he had five best-sellers. As Oprah puts: "He used his light to inspire the millions who saw him on my show."
13 of 18 Atria Books/Beyond Words
This self-help book, which vaguely mystifies the power of positive thinking, received a windfall of attention after Oprah extolled it on her show. It makes you wonder if author Rhonda Byrne used her own methods to get it on the show. If so, that does speak to its power …
14 of 18 Rachael Ray Show
We already realized that the Food Network cutie pie could whip up dinner for four in less than 30 minutes, but only Winfrey knew that Ray’s winning persona could carry her own daytime talk show. So she gave her one, which is now syndicated across the country.
15 of 18 Oprah Winfrey Network
The former View panelist returned to her journalistic roots as a correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, turning in, among other reports, a surprisingly even-handed look at the meatpacking industry. Her documentary style has been so well received by Winfrey’s audience that she nabbed a coveted position on Winfrey's OWN network launch lineup with a documentary series titled Our America.
16 of 18 Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama
She is already the commander in chief of her own queendom, but it took a promising young senator from Illinois for her to bestow her significant endorsement to a political candidate — for the first time ever. It’s difficult to quantify the "Oprah effect” on the 2008 presidential election, but it’s probably no accident that among Obama’s supporters, 55 percent of them were women.
17 of 18 Harpo Productions
Oprah's indefatigable championing of the video chat service Skype included devoting entire shows to it ("Where the Skype Are You?" aired May 2009) and interviewing people by Skype. Before Oprah, it was something largely reserved for the tech-savvy. Oprah's blessing brought it to families and opened the door for its use on other TV shows.
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The long and short of the "Oprah effect": Selling millions of tomes. This was never more apparent than through Oprah's Book Club. Started in 1996, it made literary stars out of Jacquelyn Mitchard and Wally Lamb. It also had the nation rediscovering classics by Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck and Elie Wiesel, to name a few. It's funny that something as sedentary and calm as reading could become the symbol of one woman's power, but then Oprah is no ordinary force to be reckoned with.