Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder and John Travolta were among the 300 specially invited friends and family members inside Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago TV studios Thursday as the talk show queen celebrated her 50th birthday.
“I’m feeling a little out of sorts here because I have no control,” a svelte Oprah, wearing a wool crepe pantsuit with a silk chiffon blouse, told the audience in the studio and at home.
What she got were songs by Wonder and Turner (a special version of “Happy Birthday” and “Simply the Best,” respectively), and taped messages from the likes of Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Will Smith, Nelson Mandela, Sidney Poitier, Celine Dion and a group of south African children Winfrey supports.
Jay Leno personally delivered her birthday cake, which weighed 400 pounds and tasted of bananas. Oprah’s longtime beau, Stedman Graham, sat at the birthday girl’s side.
According to news reports out of the Windy City, the on-air bash wasn’t Thursday’s only celebration for the national icon. On Wednesday night, Winfrey threw her own private party for 70 guests in Chicago’s Metropolitan Club, high atop the Sears Tower.
That guest roster reportedly included Coretta Scott King, “O” magazine editor Gayle King, and jazz giant Ramsey Lewis, who delivered a special rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
According to Chicago’s CBS2 news, Graham, admitting it was difficult to express what it is like to have shared so much time with so “truly extraordinary” a person, acknowledged her gift for helping women realize their potential. He also thanked her for allowing him “as a Black man to be able to realize my own dreams” and helping him “exercise my own imagination to allow me to fulfill those dreams.”
At the conclusion of the private party, reports CBS2, Winfrey told her guests that she was grateful to her parents for giving her life, and to God for making 1954 her birth year — the same year as the landmark Civil Rights ruling, “Brown vs. the Board of Education,” which made such an impact on her own life.