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. Laurie

    Jersey girl......thank you for sanity. Unbelievable how many people are just looking for someplace to dump their own dysfunctional hatred. It's like toxic spill over. So full of rage that that's how they relate to one another and people they don't even know on CNN blogs... I thought this blog was about reviewing the interview, but even CNN was trying for this very reaction by using the headline
    Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'
    And all these people reacted to that because they are puppets being manipulated by the media......shame on you CNN

    January 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ashera

    WOW! obviously, some americans can not take intelligent and conversations in which both people can talk! Mr. Morgan and Ms Winfrey are completely above and beyond the small minds who have not, by any means: self respect! That self respect encircles respect for others.
    Same own hatred rhetoric that leaves America in the state of division.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. zie


    January 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vava

    She's so candid and honest. No wonder she became the most successful talk show host of all time, She just has a certain quality about her

    January 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. B Hudson

    Piers Morgan reminds me of David Frost. What a great job he did with Oprah. I could have watched that interview for another hour easy. Keep up the good interviews and I'll be there every night

    January 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. big lipped jolie

    god she is fat. like really really fat.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      She looks great

      January 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      I know. This wouldn't be so much of a problem except that she is a public figure and so makes people think being fat is ok. The problem is society can accept it but your heart will not and you will die and early death because of it.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gulfer

    What a disappointment Piers Morgan! Your tabloid style of interviewing is a black eye for CNN. When you asked Oprah, "how did I do," her response of "surprising" tells it all. I believe if she had to do it over again, Oprah would pass. Suggestion to Mr. more of Oprah and Matt Lauer. You will hear intelligent questions, intelligent follow-up conversation and a genuine interest in what their guest is saying. I watched tonight because of my fondness for Ms. Winfrey; I saw nothing that will bring me back to future interviews by Piers Morgan.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dene

    I was looking forward to a great interview. I felt Oprah was hypocritical. She refused to answer questions that she would be disappointed if her guest did not answer. I felt she was concerned about the tabloids running a story( which the tabloids will), than being honest to her fans. I enjoyed Larry King for years. Piers I hope you get Michael Vick and he is more open than Oprah. Best wishes.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Terry - Indiana

    I liked the show. I have always liked Oprah, and I think she committed to this interview because she truly cares about other people, and she knew this interview would do wonders for Piers Morgan's Premiere Show. I thought he did an excellent job, and I look forward to watching his show each night. As with the Larry King Show, we will all have the opportunity to hear from people we want to know more about, and Piers Morgan will carry the torch for a high quality interview show. Again, good opening show!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CLARA

    NICE ONE PIERS!! THUMBS UP.. its like dancing to that dora exporer catoon "WE DID IT SONG".. YOU DID IT!!! good job!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Anyone who thinks this is murder is laughable.

    Until a fetus can live on its own, its nothing but a parasite – its not a human life inside the womb.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • seanmom

      Really? Which is it–not human, or not living? Take a biology class, and you will find you are wrong on both counts.

      January 18, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. ashleigh chapman

    i think that Oprah is very strong and courageous for even talking about her experience. do not judge her You have absolutely no right to. she handled it the best way she say she could she is only human. You judge her for that but You don't judge people who get pregnant because they just are too lazy to be responsible to use birth control and have multiple abortions and since when is it ok to have children at 14? even if she had the baby she would still be judged for that so if You don't like her don't bother keeping up on her life

    January 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChoCho

      Not to mention that during those times, it wasn't as easy for blacks to get/have birth control pills then...and I can believe the stigma one can get for having a child out of wedlock, being from the south was a smh sort of thing in the 80s-90s, but unfortunately, some girls in my class either dropped out, or they stayed in–as long as they kept going to school, their moms helped with the babies, that was the stipulation usually...for her to admit that, man, that was courageous...

      January 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobCat you have any proof to anything you have stated here? So, please stop the nonsense. Don't be a hate monger...maybe you will become successful too if you stop hating.
      Oprah, I wish the world for you...may you become more successful so you can help more people.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • zachary

      Real good english there. I for one had no problem taking you seriously. Keep up the good work!

      January 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Oh sure. So it's HORRIBLE when Palin's daughter is preggo at SEVENTEEN, but it's OK for Oprah to be knocked up at FOURTEEN? You know what, it IS OK if I judge her, and I choose to judge her as being just another typical hypocritical bomb thrower tree hugging socialist Europetopia liberal....So THERE

      January 18, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Cdogg

      Is Time Warner a partner in Oprah's new network. All of the sudden she is a CNN god like Apple, At&t, Twitter and Facebook.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      I agree with Ashley. Back then, especially with the parental influence, having a baby young was horrible or a sin, a disgrace. I wish she could say for mothers now, it does not mean life is over. It does not mean you cannot accomplish in life. There will always be adversity. Although most of us at that age are naive and easily influenced since we are trying to figure out our own values. On the flip side, I can't help but feel that she thinks that having a baby was so bad, it almost seems like a disconnection to me. But I suppose that is private.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      Oprah just cares for herself. Not a word of advice for young mothers , and their parents, of how human life should be respected and cherished! There is nothing honorable and courageous in her statement, she reveals her thirst for power, and talking about personal stuff sells, that's all.

      January 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rachel

    Really disappointed that CNN would tag this article as "Oprah talks about suicidal thoughts." The topic was briefly touched on, but was not deeply explored and was not the primary focus of the interview. This is sensationalizing the important topic of suicide in our country. Shame on you CNN.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moron

      Rachel, you have to understand that CNN is Show Business, not News Business. check the number of times you see "Watch Huge Crash" and get onlyb talking heads: trash, no crash.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimB

      All news is show business–give the customer what they want to hear. Fox News is nothing other than entertainment for the right wing, CNN is more oriented toward celebrities, etc. Don't expect any network to be all news. They want to make money given the segment of the population that they're targeting.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay


      January 18, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bryan

    Let's try this in blocks Actually I have no idea what anything I said has to do with race. She is vile because she basically said she is glad her baby died. That's messed up! I know she was 14 but she was not impregnated by accident or by one of her molesters. Otherwise she would have said so.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • soSad

      I can't believe she said it either. She sounds happy that her baby died. It was her choice to get pregnant, and she thinks her life would have been over if the baby had lived. What message does that send our children today who make those same unfortunate choices? Kill your baby-it's you or them. How sad.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becky

      I also found this disturbing.

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

      Unbelievable she is happy her baby died because look at all the opportunities she got to have! Oprah is a truly heartless selfish individual that is just obsessed with fame and loves to hear herself talk about herself! SHAME ON YOU OPRAH!

      January 17, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taliesin

      oh soSad–yes, you are very

      January 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      She got pregnant because she was molested by a relative.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      I agree . This is not the way public figure should talk about a past miscarriage. She should choose her words better, and realize the example she is setting. Where is her so well marketed Compassion, now?

      January 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Uncommon blogger

    Jesey girl got it right! How can you haters be so stupid. She reveals personal info so others may learn and not feel alone. If you guys can't respect what she has accomplished with her life and how she affected other lives in a positive way, then you're jealous of a rich black woman

    January 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • V Saxena

      They're ignorant; it's as simple as that. The irony is that they're so ignorant that they're incapable of realizing their own ignorance. It's sad, but the only thing you can do is just ignore them. Their only way to hold power in this world is by voicing in their hateful opinions. By simply ignoring them, we take away that power. I know that sounds corny, LOL, but I'm serious.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • soSad

      her choice as a teenager should not be seen as good or right. It was a choice. I think it's funny you make it a racial issue. The message she's actually saying is that death was her only way to have a second chance. How about adoption? Death is very final, no matter what you believe.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      @V don't even know you are telling people to be the same as you criticize the others for. Hint: ignore....ignorant......get it? Look up the word Hypocrite.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      And there it is...the race card! Always a great fall-back argument.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Not jealous, but also don't idolize humans. Just because she says something, doesn't make it so. It's not the gospel according to Oprah.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Sydney Australia

      What personal information did the Queen reveal? That she tried to kill her baby and, when the baby did die (was it from all the crap she was doing trying to kill it?) she was glad,,,, Sweet Jebus, this is the roll model for our children??? She was happy when her baby died cause she could get on with her life,,,,,,,, isn't that what Andrea Yates did? Killed her babies so she could get on with her life and do things she could not when her babies were alive.

      I have every right to judge Oprah and find her character totally lacking.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
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