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.

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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.

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soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. sttrm

    Quite perterbed by her reference to the baby dying as though the experiece was all about her (Oprah) with no thought for the child. Her view seems to indicate it was better that the child died? Incredible. But not surprising from someone with her religious beliefs. I'm saddened.

    January 18, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Doris Willis

      Somewhere in this world live two people, a 44 year old woman and a 42 year old man who were born ALIVE AND WELL from OPRAH's body. Bet you are a grandma Oprah! No doubt that she knows where they are and what they are doing. Oprah can act. Best lying fake ever!

      January 19, 2011 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. mcdoodoo

    I didn't see this show. that's why i came to read the article. after i read it don't know which was worse: the writer of the article, the questions this piers dude asked, or oprah's responses. really sad. seemed like something you'd find in a tabloid mag. really oprah. you should've put some thought into the impact your words would have on people. or perhaps you actually did. tsk!tsk!tsk!

    January 18, 2011 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Connie Coburg

    Did the baby really die? Did she actually see it lifeless or was she just told that as a story, so it could be adopted to a family that would actually care for it (stolen generation used to happen a lot in the 60's and 70's and prior)? There is more to this STORY (fairytale) then meets the eye! She may actually have a child out there, biologiclally anyway! just seems a strange way to cope with a supposed death of a child, even at the age of 14.

    January 18, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • TBL

      She had a miscarriage. The article quite clearly says so. One assumes she was present at the time of the miscarriage.

      January 18, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Connie Coburg

      At 14, Oprah discovered she was pregnant, though she hid this news from her parents until she was in her 7th month. The day she told her father the news of her pregnancy, she went into early labor and delivered her baby that day - a boy, who died within 2 weeks of his birth.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • wallaby

      I agree with you. I think this is going to be the big family secret she reveals on her show this Monday!,,20459929,00.html

      January 22, 2011 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. bellibecaDaily

    He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him..big love

    January 18, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. Chelia

    Yes, thank God the baby died so she could get a degree and fulfill HER dreams. If only more children could die we'd all be alot better off. Oh, wait! We Americans abort thousands of children everyday and are still under-educated, broke and depressed. Hmmm.

    January 18, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Cherie Partain

      I don't think Oprah intended to sound cold or callous but I totally agree with you.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cuddles

      I think it speaks more to the reality that having a baby is practically a death sentence for any otherwise career-minded woman, particularly when they haven't been privileged enough to have settled into a career. Having a baby is the biggest change a woman could possibly endure. The same can not be said for men. I don't think it's callous of her to be thankful that she got to move on to become one of the most successful women in history as opposed to being a single, teen mother of a child, likely on public welfare for the rest of their lives. It is sad, but that baby (unwanted as it was) died a very long time ago. I think she has come to terms with it at this point.

      January 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dodyd

    Nice article,if you want to make some extra money visit

    January 18, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. GD

    I think the day "the baby" died was the day O changed. I think her idea of a second chance meant that she lost touch with reality of her "old" world and started living in a fantasy world. The thing is it worked out for her. She suppressed emotions regarding her baby and started dreaming of being someone different, you know someone like Barbara Walters. She did exactly what scriptures purport when we are told to "leave all that burdens you behind" and start anew. So what is the problem?

    January 18, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ellea

    If you have never been a teenage mom or been the victim of abuse then you cant relate to what a 14 year old was going through at that time. She says FOR HER AT THAT TIME SHE FELT IT WAS A SECOND CHANCE . It was Gods decision to take the baby back with if you have a problem take it up with the almighty. I konw you all would rather she had the baby gone and welfare and food stamps OH wait...YOU WOULD HAVE COMPLAINED ABOUT THAT ALSO. You Poor Sad Souls who come on these boards to spout viscerol things to make your own pathetic lives seem slightly less bleak. Oprah I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. GOOD FOR YOU!

    January 18, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Norma

    What I don't understand is, how does a fourteen year old, go into a hospital (even in those days) have a baby, and the family not notified. She said that nobody ever knew. I don't think any hospital then or now, would admit a fourteen year old to have a baby without the family knowing. I don't get it. She sounded too cold. She was fourteen then, but she's not fourteen anymore. It was all about her. Sad 🙁

    January 18, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      She was saying that no one in school or outside her family knew. You people really need to learn how to read better. Most of you are questioning things that were clearly stated in the article. I can see reading comprehension was skipped in your schools.

      And I would suggest that most of YOU are living in a fantasy world! You all watch way too much television if you think there's some secret Oprah baby living out there in the world somewhere. Fear and ignorance is ultimately what will kill us all. Go pray on that.

      January 19, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. 2pac

    Oprah got a donk fo real

    January 18, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Carl Jones

    Piers had the audacity to say he's replacing Larry King! He's only taking the 9pm slot. He will never "replace" the King.

    I found his interview with O to be underpowering and at times O was interviewing P. Larry King was much more powerful than that.

    Pier's British accent is hard to follow and while he may have a successful similar show in the UK I don't think it will fly here.

    CNN, I think you could do better than this for your 9pm slot. I will not watch your new "King wannabe" wimpy interviewer known as Piers Morgan.

    January 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nattygyrl

    She got pregnant at 14. I can understand her feelings especially when her father had very strict rules.However, I do not agree with the 2nd chance idea. It was not a reward that she loss the child. She still could have been Oprah.

    January 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Ordinary Man 2

    I think Oprah is really brave, it takes courage to talk about such a difficlut topic like this on TV and to show the deeper side of her emlotions. I think it is a great lesson to us all.

    January 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dara


    January 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SpinnyLiberal

    I always believed that everything happens for a reason. Considering her father's view of unwed mothers, I can see how she would see this as a second chance and even feeling relieved. With the baby, life could have turned out very differently for her, or it could have been similar to now. We really don't know.

    January 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
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