I caught an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" this week where Winfrey interviewed Henry “The Fonz” Winkler. I was mildly surprised that she didn’t ask Winkler about the Bronze Fonz statue, especially since she lives and works in Chicago, and spent years of her childhood living in Milwaukee. (As of last year, her mother still resided here.)
I mentioned this to a friend, who said, “Oprah hates Milwaukee.” This sounded harsh, and is probably untrue, but it did make me wonder why it seems to me that she has very little presence in Brew City, the city where she lived for a few years as a young person. (Winfrey attended the Lincoln Center of the Arts, which was then called Lincoln Middle School, and Nicolet High School.)
A bit of Internet research confirmed what I had thought to be true: Winfrey had a difficult childhood and was sexually abused while living in Milwaukee. At 14, she became pregnant and in her seventh month of pregnancy delivered a premature son who later died. Perhaps this has something to do with her separation from our city.
Or maybe she’s just really busy being all that is Oprah: wickedly popular talk show host, magazine publisher and actress, Barack Obama campaigner, Gayle’s BFF and a comfort person, role model -- even spiritual adviser -- for millions of fans.
In any case, Winfrey’s prime-time show “Oprah’s Big Give” premieres this Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC. The premise of the show is that Winfrey gives 10 people the name and picture of a complete stranger, and then it’s their job to compete against one another to change their stranger’s life in the most creative and positive ways. People will receive big cash prizes and life-changing opportunities throughout this series, where the only rule of the show is “You either give big or you go home.”
The first episode takes places in Los Angeles, and will include celebrity guests like Jennifer Aniston, John Travolta, Jada Pinkett-Smith and more. In addition to Los Angeles, other episodes were filmed in Denver, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, New York City and Chicago.
Sure, every city hopes Winfrey will bring her show to their part of the country, but based on her past here, do you think it's more or less likely that "Oprah’s Big Give" will make its way to Milwaukee?
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.