Now that Oprah Winfrey sits at the top of a vast media empire rivaled in glory only by the splendor of Imperial Rome, it’s sometimes hard to remember that she started her career as the host of a humble daytime talk show, a job that required her occasionally to do silly things like hang out with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
That’s not a metaphor. In 1990, Winfrey played host to live-action versions of the famous fighting terrapins, giving away an entire hour to the foursome as they sang, danced and lectured children on the importance of literacy, all to promote their Coming Out of Their Shells tour.
During the episode, Winfrey struggled to keep a straight face as Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo played their hits “Coming Out of Our Shells” and “Walk Straight,” though she managed not to laugh while interviewing the Turtles about their musical aspirations.
The audience of youthful Turtles fans clamored to see the foursome fight, but the Turtles, perhaps sensing the then-common fear that they were leading children toward violence, insisted that they were peace-loving rock-and-rollers now.
Though the Turtles’ newfound pacifism meant that a surprise appearance by Shredder lacked a certain dramatic climax, Winfrey seemed to enjoy the experience anyway, dropping a “Cowabunga!” for the crowd and even dancing with the Turtles, an image that deserves to be included in each of Winfrey’s lifetime achievement award highlight reels for the rest of eternity.
Watch the entire 43-minute clip above.
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