The Secret World of Oprah Winfrey
Kitty Kelley has turned her unauthorized-biography attentions to Oprah. And found a secretive and controlling figure who will not give her own mother her phone number.
Oprah has previously revealed her traumatic upbringing, what the New York Times Magazine, in this interview with Kelley that will run tomorrow, describes as "the hardscrabble childhood in Mississippi, the fact that she was sexually molested and pregnant by the time she was 14, with a son who died as a newborn."
Kelley's book promises to reveal further details. But Winfrey, says Kelley, is far more restrictive than Frank Sinatra — another notorious control-freak who Kelley profiled. So it's less Frank Sinatra Has a Cold than Oprah Winfrey Has a Pie. (Actually two pecan pies, delivered to her hotel room and immediately consumed.)
Her mother, Vernita Lee, who lives in Milwaukee, is provided with a car and a driver is taken care of financially "but," says Kelley, "she can't reach Oprah. Oprah will not give her mother her telephone number." Her mother has to call her assistant like everyone else.
Winfrey, Kelley reports, has a heated dog kennel. And some expectedly serious clout in the media. "In promoting this book," she explains, "we have already been told by Barbara Walters's producer, No, you cannot be on "The View," I cannot disrupt my relationship with Oprah. Joy Behar, the same thing. Charlie Rose; Larry King said, I will not do it, it might upset Oprah. Even David Letterman."