Behind the Scenes at Harpo Studios
In 1984, Oprah Winfrey left the local talk show circuit in Baltimore and moved to the Windy City to host WLS-TV's morning talk show, AM Chicago. Just one month later, AM Chicago became the number one talk show, even surpassing ratings for Donahue!
The show quickly expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. Four years later, Oprah bought a cluster of buildings—including an old television studio—in Chicago's West Loop. She named the studio Harpo, which is, of course, "Oprah" spelled backwards!
Harpo Studios: Fun Facts!
- With the purchase of the large Chicago production facility now known as Harpo Studios, Oprah became the third woman in the American entertainment industry—after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball—to own her own studio.
- In the early 1900s, the Harpo building was Chicago's Second Regiment Armory. After the Eastland steamer capsized in the Chicago River in 1915, the armory was used as a temporary morgue for victims of the disaster. Today, some say the Harpo building is haunted by the ghost of the "Gray Lady."
- Harpo Studios was once a roller skating rink called the Roller Bowl.
- In the 1950s, Harpo's building was used as Fred Niles Studios, where they filmed TV commercials with Muhammed Ali and movies such as Mickey One with Warren Beatty. Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom was also shot at this studio.
- The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 24 consecutive seasons.
- The show is seen by an estimated 40 million viewers a week in the United States.
- About 315-365 audience members fill the seats at every taping...totaling approximately 1.3 million people in 25 years!
- A total of 145 countries around the world, from Australia to Zimbabwe, broadcast The Oprah Winfrey Show.
- As of January 2011, there have been approximately 4,500 shows taped!
- The title of the very first syndicated show was "How to Marry the Man or Woman of Your Choice," and the most talked about subject over the past 25 years is Parenting and Family Relationships.
- Celine Dion is the most frequent female celebrity guest on the show—with 27 Oprah Show appearances! Chris Rock has appeared on the show 25 times, making him the most frequent male celebrity guest.
- Oprah considers Adam Sandler one her most surprising guests of all time..."I thought he'd be a joke a minute. He was charming, shy and thoughtful."
- Five presidents, five first ladies, one reigning queen, one former queen, six princesses, seven princes, one earl, one lord, one count and one duchess have graced The Oprah Winfrey Show stage.
- Dr. Phil has been a guest on the show 118 times!
- After accepting her seventh Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host and the 9th Emmy for The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah decided to stop submitting herself and the show for Emmy consideration. To date, the show has won a total of 47 Emmy awards.
- In 1998, Oprah took voice lessons so that she could sing her own theme song, "Run On." She also produced her first—and only—music video for the song!
- Musical greats like Paul Simon, Quincy Jones and Patti LaBelle have penned lyrics for Oprah theme songs.