Oprah's bad week: A timeline

Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey is still creating aftershocks. Here's what's happened so far

It's been a tough week for Winfrey.
(Image credit: Corbis)

Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey, which hit bookshelves last week, has triggered a series of aggravations for Oprah herself. (Watch an E! News report about Oprah's response to the book.) The book's bombshell announcement — that Kelley knows the identity of Oprah's biological father — has prompted a paternity feud and a terse dismissal from Oprah, who pithily addressed the rumors on April 19. Here's a brief timeline of how the last week's events have played out:

Thursday, April 15

• The book, which alleges that Oprah is a cold, unemotional boss, prompts former employees at Oprah's production company to come forward with anonymous tales. Gawker quotes an unnamed source who alleges that the show's executive producers are not "living your best life" (an Oprah mantra) but "killing themselves for Oprah" — subsisting on up to 690 ounces of diet cola a day, cappuccinos, cigarettes and "3-4 hours" of sleep.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Saturday April 17

• Norh Robinson, a "dirt-poor Mississippi farmer," comes forward to claim he is Oprah's father. The 84-year-old WWII veteran tells the New York Post he would take a DNA test if required: "I told her, if she wanted, I'd give her one."

Monday, April 19

• While in Manhattan to present an award to her close friend Gayle King, Oprah addresses Kelley's biography for the first time: "Last week was a rough week for Gayle when a so-called biography came out. Every day, she's getting herself more and more worked up about all of my new daddies that are now showing up. New daddies who are saying, 'Hello daughter, call me, I need a new roof.' Well, this too shall pass."

• Later, a less philosophical Oprah loses her temper with a New York Post reporter when asked if she would consider Norh Robinson's claims. "I will not be taking a paternity test, ever... I've never heard of him," she says, adding: "Get out of my face!"

Tuesday, April 20

• Winfrey's cousin Katherine Esters, denies that she told Kelley who Oprah's biological father is, and apologizes for participating in a "book portraying [Oprah] falsely." An Oprah spokesperson tells the Jackson Clarion Ledger that Winfrey has not spoken to Esters since the book's publication.

• Kelley addresses Esters' retraction on her blog: "I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed," Kelley writes. "I gather that [Esters] may have come under some pressure" to change her story. "Ms. Esters was both forthcoming and candid in sharing with me... the identity of Oprah’s biological father."

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us