Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'
January 17th, 2011
09:18 PM ET

Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'

In the inaugural interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight," talk show queen Oprah Winfrey recalled contemplating suicide at 14 because she was pregnant, and how she feels she was given a second chance when she lost the baby.

"I thought, 'Before the baby was born, I’m going to have to kill myself,' " she told Piers Morgan during the interview, which aired on CNN Monday night, citing the stigma of being an unwed mother at the time, and her father's view of unwed mothers.

[cnn-video url=""%5D

Her mother in Milwaukee sent her to live with her father in Nashville, and he didn't know she was pregnant.

"My father ... said to me as I'm standing in the kitchen listening to him, 'These are the rules of the house, you're going to obey the rules, you have a 10 o'clock curfew, and I would rather see a daughter of mine floating down the Cumberland River … than to bring shame on this family and the indecency of an illegitimate child.' "

She said she didn't come close to killing herself - "I did stupid things like drinking detergent and all that kind of crazy stuff that you do when you’re trying to get attention when you’re really just trying to cry for help," she said.

"But this is my 14-year-old self. I don't even know what I thought the plan was going to be. ... You're having a baby out of wedlock, your life is over. So when the baby died – the baby was never brought home from the hospital – when the baby died, I knew that it was my second chance.

"So I went back to school, and nobody knew. Because had anybody known at that time, I wouldn’t have been able to be head of student council. I wouldn’t have been able to be speaking champion in forensics. … I wouldn’t have been chosen as one of the two teenagers in the state of Tennessee to go to the White House conference on youth. None of those things would have happened, and the entire trajectory of my life would have been different."

She discussed the baby and the suicidal thoughts after being asked whether any part of her wondered what would have happened if the child had lived.

Winfrey also discussed how her heart was broken twice, why she is not one for marriage, what she intends for her fortune when she's gone, and how she wishes everyone would have a Gayle King in their life.

Morgan's show takes over CNN's 9 p.m. ET time slot from longtime CNN host Larry King. The show's first week continues with Howard Stern on Tuesday and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday.

Post by:
Filed under: Celebrity
soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. Mary Beth

    I will give this interview a B+. I hope Piers doesn't expect to maintain an audience when he has love fests with this guests. In some respects I think Oprah out-interviewed Piers. At other times, I expected more aggressive questions. I like Piers and I'll watch some more and hope he really does live up to the hype. Otherwise, it's the same tired format that made Larry King unwatchable.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • b cool

      I concur

      January 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • brent

      I disagree. I think he led her exactly where he wanted her to go – This "dead baby was my second chance" is gonna be the shot heard around the world, I guarantee it.

      The fact that he evoked those comments while being totally soft and sucking up leaves him looking blameless and non-manipulative.
      The important thing for an interviewer is not the manner of the interview, but the substance that comes out of it.
      Caty Kouric was gentle and kind with Sarah Palin, but it was Palin's response to "what do you read?" that defined Palin!

      I tried to kill my baby – I was unsuccessful, but luckily, the baby died anyway! My second chance! It's like a scratch off lotto ticket, with a second scratch!

      I'll never make that mistake again! – no more men for me, no sir!
      And true to her word..........

      January 18, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • NotSo

      I doubt that anyone appearing to wield any authority over Oprah gets a single word out of her. I wonder if that aspect of her personality comes from her traumatic teenage years. It's sad that she felt so hopeless when she was young, and even sadder that a baby died as a result (if her ingestion of detergent led to the baby's death).

      January 18, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. mel

    She was 14 yrs old. I doubt any of us made any reasonable decisions at that age. If she had done these things as an adult I could understand the hatred. You people are all pathetic and jealous.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GK

    I wonder where "the baby" is buried and if she ever visits the grave...

    January 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. meagain

    She is obviously very full of herself, selfish, and very self-centered. I had a miscarriage at 16 in the same era and STILL sadly think of that baby.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      I'm sorry you had to deal with that, and that it's still so painful.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. JT

    Give me a break, CNN don't have better things to report than this?

    January 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. snookieee

    f oprah. really. i mean i probably will never be able to have kids and she's acting like the death of her baby was a god send. lets pull the bs card out now. unfair. and i was pregnant at 17, miscarried at 5 months. i wish i had my baby today. there's not a day that goes by i don't think of him. i will never watch her show nor her tv network

    January 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • b cool

      If you decide not to watch Oprah, that's fine, but don't blame her for you physical or emotional issues.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      She's not blaming Oprah. It sounds like she's saying that, after hearing Oprah's apparent lack of remorse for the baby Oprah lost, she has lost all respect for Oprah and has no desire to try to relate to Oprah's point-of-view on anything.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Micheline

    anyone who has the audacity to judge her is beyond ignorance, not only was she molested she had to hold that in and deal with the shame and pain, most girls that had been molested usually become premiscous, But this woman rise to become who she is, by her strength and courage, and intergity. she is example and inspiration to many woman, young and old, black or white... love ya Oprah # womanpower

    January 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Katea

    Ya know? It totally amazes me how Americans LOVE to find a moment in a good person's life, turn it into mud, and sling it at them... No wonder people from other countries can't stand us! lol This makes it clear as to why our young put Canadian flags on their back-packs when they travel through Europe. lol We are petty mud-slingers with nothing better to do with our lives than to pick on others! We really DO LOVE to throw the first stone...... Shame on us!!!!!

    I watched the whole interview, and I found it to be wonderful! This was a talented, and caring person interviewing another caring person, and I saw that they both humbled each other. I was proud, for a moment, to be an
    American, despite the pettiness of so many of us. God help us, by the comments here! If we are to be judged by the masses, then we as Americans are doomed...

    January 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      What did this interview have to do with their citizenship, or yours?

      January 18, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mackie

    I'm not sure Piers realized it or not, but Oprah controlled the interview. She interjected little comments that got him to laughing and that was the end to that question. I was surprised that she would admit that losing her baby of which she was not attached to, made her life better. Maybe to her, she really feels that way, but she should not to be saying that to young mothers in that same situation. Oprah seems to be proud that she never had any counseling......I believe she needs some. Everything is about HER..... gets tiring.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. really?

    What was everyone expecting? A therapy session? I am sure that it has taken her a long time to get over losing her child and she was very brave to share that with the world. She could have kept it to herself. Then what would you have to argue about?

    January 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LindaLou

    I'm guessing most people who are posting are not old enough to remember what it was like for a young woman to be pregnant out of wedlock in the 1960's or even 1970's. I'm 50 and I remember how it was for those girls. They were expelled from school, but the guy who got them pregnant wasn't. They couldn't get a decent paying job. Many families disowned them. Their lives were ruined, utterly ruined. It wasn't generally accepted as it is today. So, yeah, Oprah didn't use the best choice of words considering how much she is paid to be a media star, but I understand what she means about the second chance.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mikey B

    Oh for God's sake, WHO GIVES A FLYING #$@% about these two idiots??????

    January 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KMR

    Who are we to judge anyone? Oprah has done so much for so many people. God has a master plan for all of us so some things aren't meant to be. For those of you that are so full of hate, please take that energy and do one nice thing for another person.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Monica

    I can not believe she was happy the baby died.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wonder

    Is she trying to kill herself or the baby by eating detergent??? I think she killed her baby. Shame on you. Some people try so hard and never have a baby. No life should be taken for granted. It's a gift, you deal with it. it's your fault, don't take it out on the baby! ever heard of adoption????

    January 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ppp

      If she was trying to 'kill the baby' she put the detergent in the wrong end!

      January 18, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16