In 1986, during the first season of The Oprah Show, Oprah explored the paranormal and spoke with people who said they came face-to-face with ghosts in their own homes. Some of these spirits were friendly, deceased relatives, while others were demonic forces who attacked homeowners. Oprah also talked with a priest who performed exorcisms.
As Oprah learned in 1987, exorcisms don't just happen in Hollywood horror movies. During this episode, Oprah met two real-life exorcists who claimed to have seen the Devil and experienced his powers. Oprah also spoke with Helen Chitwood, a woman who said she was possessed by demons—she had visions of chopping off her loved ones' heads—before undergoing an exorcism.
Abducted by Aliens
During the show's first season, Oprah interviewed Constance Morgan and Dorothy Wallis, women who said they were abducted by aliens, taken aboard spaceships and examined by beings from outer space.
"I know that I'm going to be set up for some ridicule and some slight comments here and there," Constance said in 1987. "I know that there's a lot of other people out there who may have had the same thing happen to them. I didn't know where to go. I didn't know who to talk to."
In 1986, real-life witches were in an uproar when the comedy/fantasy film The Witches of Eastwick
, starring Jack Nicholson, Cher
and Susan Sarandon
, first went into production. A year later, Oprah spoke with American witches—also known as Wiccans or pagans—who felt that they weren't accurately portrayed and wanted to set the record straight.
"It's not okay because we don't do evil with our psychic abilities, and that's what [the movie's] portraying," Laurie Cabot, official witch of Salem, said. "Our psychic abilities are a part of our way of life. It's a part of our religion, our art, our science."
Alaskan Men Looking for Brides
Single and ready to mingle? In 1989, Oprah played matchmaker when she flew 20 bachelors from Alaska—a state known for its abundance of single men—to Chicago to find the women of their dreams. After Oprah introduced the men to an audience filled with single ladies, the bachelors made the next moves. They asked some of the women questions before deciding whether to go out on a first date.
Cowabunga, It's the Ninja Turtles
Cowabunga, dudes! In 1990, during The Oprah Show's fifth season, Oprah sat down with the kings of Saturday morning TV and pop culture icons—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The audience, which was filled with hard-core Turtle fans, was treated to a concert from the fierce foursome and got the chance to ask Raphael, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo their burning questions like, "What is your favorite pizza?" Believe it or not, Oprah even danced along to the Turtles' song, "Pizza Power."
I Am Elvis
Elvis Presley, the iconic king of rock 'n' roll, died in 1977, but his legend and music live on through his many impersonators. In 1991, Oprah brought hundreds of gyrating, jumpsuit-wearing impersonators together and invited some of them to perform on the Oprah Show stage. Men and women performed—some even sang in Spanish—and paid homage to the king.
Driven from Home by Ghosts
According to a 1990 Gallup poll, 45 million adult Americans believed in ghosts. And in May 1991, Oprah spoke with a panel of guests who abandoned their homes—property worth $100,000 or more—because they were convinced the houses were haunted. One guest said she saw ghosts flying near her home and another couple claimed to see a ghost after dead bodies were dug up in their backyard.
Ben and Jean Williams, co-authors of The Black Hope Horror, said they left their home after realizing it was built on a cemetery. They said their shoes would go missing, electric clocks that weren't plugged in would glow at night, and the TV would turn on and off all by itself.
Oprah's Hilarious Practical Jokes
Oprah Show makeovers usually involve high-end salons, designer clothes and jaw-dropping reveals...but not this time! In 2002, actor and funnyman Jamie Kennedy helped Oprah pull off one of the few pranks in Oprah Show history.
Tacky clothes, over-the-top wigs and gaudy accessories were all part of the plan. To pull one over on Susan, a 51-year-old grandmother, Jamie transformed himself into a New Age beauty guru and gave her an awful goth makeover. "You can use this look when you pick up your grandkids from kindergarten, around the house...just kickin' it," Jamie told Susan.
But, when Susan looked in the mirror and saw black leather and dark makeup, she was practically speechless. "This is really not me," she said. Luckily, after Jamie topped off the look with an animal-print cowboy hat, he revealed the gag.
Oprah's Best Friend Gayle Goes on Blind Dates
Dating is difficult for many people, but Oprah's best friend Gayle
said it was especially hard for her as a divorced mother of two. Gayle voiced her relationship woes on a show called Dating Over 35
. After the show, Gayle was bombarded with mail from men who wanted to take her out on the town. So, in 2003, she stepped out of her comfort zone and went on four blind dates—with Oprah Show
cameras filming every moment!
Gayle's date with bachelor number one, Bill, a single father of two young sons, was at the Four Seasons in New York City. When she arrived at the hotel, Gayle's nerves almost got the best of her. "I said, 'Is it too late just to turn around and go back to Connecticut?'" Gayle said "I can't believe that I'm actually nervous about this. This is so silly!" Turns out, Bill was a nice guy, and Gayle even agreed to a second date.
First TV Interview: The Pregnant Man
It's the story that had the media buzzing and people talking in April 2008. Thomas and his wife, Nancy, a happily married couple, were expecting their first child. So why were they making headlines around the world? Thomas was the one who was pregnant.
During their first TV interview, Oprah spoke with Thomas—a man who was born female and lived for 24 years as a woman named Tracy—and Nancy.
"I have a very stable male gender identity. I see pregnancy as a process, and it doesn't define who I am. It's not a male or female desire to want to have a child—it's a human desire," Thomas told Oprah. "I'm a person, and I have the right to have my own biological child."
David Blaine Risks His Life to Break a World Record
Illusionist David Blaine
became internationally famous when he started doing what he calls "endurance art"—death-defying stunts that test the limits of the human body. Over the years, he's been locked inside a clear coffin for a week, been encased in a block of ice and lived underwater for seven days. Then, in 2008, he decided to try to break the Guinness world record for holding breath underwater...live on The Oprah Show
To accomplish this feat, David had to hold his breath for more than 16 1/2 minutes! Did he do it? Watch now!
Fun fact: Oprah said this was one of the only times Stedman asked to sit in the audience.
Exclusive: Oprah Goes Inside the Yearning for Zion Polygamist Ranch
During Season 23, Oprah went inside the Yearning for Zion Ranch
in Eldorado, Texas, home to more than 700 polygamists, to talk with children, teens and parents directly affected by the infamous raid in 2008. That year, 126 children were removed from the ranch after authorities received reports of suspected child abuse.
In 2009, 10 months after the children returned home, Oprah got an unprecedented look at what life is like behind the gates of the YFZ Ranch, which was once completely off-limits to outsiders. Members of the Yearning for Zion community shared a homemade dinner with Oprah, showed her how they braided their hair
, and spoke openly about their polygamist lifestyle and their imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs.
What life is like inside the ranch
Do You Believe in Miracles?
Millions of people have flocked to Abadiania, a remote town in Brazil, in search of a miracle. They came with every kind of ailment you can imagine—cancer, arthritis, depression—all to see one man: John of God.
Some believed John of God, a simple farmer with no medical degree and little education, was a medium who channeled the spirits of more than 30 dead doctors and saints to bring physical and spiritual healing. While in Brazil, Oprah's team watched as John of God performed surgeries seemingly without anesthesia or sterilization.
In 2011, Oprah spoke with skeptics and believers alike. "We're bringing you stories of some of the most extraordinary, unexplained phenomena in modern history," Oprah said. "Be your own judge."
Watch as John of God performs physical and "invisible" surgeries
How O magazine's editor-in-chief Susan Casey felt after meeting the spiritual healer