The Art & Science of Oprah Winfrey: Part I

Part I: Oprah, Lucy, and Mary

Oprah Winfrey shares a unique distinction with Lucille Ball, the 1950s television comedienne, and Mary Pickford, the 1920s movie actress: all three attained extraordinary popularity in front of the camera, and all three became powerhouses behind the camera, as heads of their own production studios. But Oprah differs from the other two women in that her stardom is based on her own personality, rather than on the assumed role of a character in a comedy or drama.

Miss Ball played "Lucy," a scatterbrained housewife, in her television series, and Miss Pickford, known as "America's Sweetheart," portrayed ingénue leads in her films. Miss Winfrey, on the other hand, from the very start of her career in television news and through every progressive step along her way to her own enormously successful The Oprah Winfrey Show, has always been herself--just Oprah. Her uncanny ability to be natural in all settings has enabled her to create, as her own web site states, "an unparalleled connection with people around the world."

Miss Winfrey's talent to connect is both an art and a science; the science is the foundation, and the art the expression. The science, which provides the best insight to her success, will be the subject of tomorrow's post, and, her art, the following day.