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. Michael

    I think Pierce Morgan scored an "A-" tonight; but Oprah's second chance coming in the form of an innocent child's life draws mixed feelings, she is hardworking and a successful woman, but she didn't show emotions over losing " life" I thought she would have done better as a mother – losing a baby at birth, she made it obvious that this was a stepping stone to her success 🙁

    January 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Anevay

    I can't believe that she would think that having a child out of wedlock would have "ruined her career" despite all the other crap that was going on in her life at the time. Being a teenage mom unmarried is the last thing that should have played a role in her success or not. She could have put it up for adoption. She is sickening for even saying that the baby not surviving was basically her way to success. Screw her, she always wants ppl to cry for her and praise her for what SHE percieves as right. Sorry ORPAH yes orpah, the world doesn't revolve around you. You didnt escape shame by losing the baby, fact is you were still 14 and pregnant.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mizz.Givens

      She didn't say losing the baby made her successful. She said losing the baby made her understand she had a second chance. Read the article.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sarah

    Can somebody please go after these fake money making charities like Red Cross, Unicef, World Vision & others. They collected billions of dollar all over the world for Haiti & the situation is worst then ever. These blood sucking charities all got rich & most their employees are living lavish lives with huge bank account balances. I beg anyone in a position to find out where the money went & to get it back ASAP to save those poor dying people. All those who took this money for themselves, all of you are murderer of innocent people. Hell is waiting for you!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DJ

    Wow, all she says is how a child living inside of her would have messed up her life. I just wonder if she ever thinks about her drinking detergent, etc. while pregnant with regret. Especially since she will never have children of her own. It disgusts me that she thought that her child that died, possible because of her attempted suicide attempts, as a second chance for herself. A new reason to not like this woman that seems to be everyone's hero.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • b cool

      Many of you haters have obviously missed the entire interview and/or either did not listen to what Oprah said in regards to losing her baby.I don't think that any 14 year old would be happy after finding out they were pregnant, expecially during the early 60's. Not onlly would she have felt the wrath of her father, but would have been disowned from the rest of her family and from society or at least thought so. She acknowledged the fact that she was promiscuious, she made a mistake. Instead of getting an abortion, she went to the hospital to have the baby. For unknown reasons, the baby died. It was another chance for Oprah to get her life together, she learned from that mistake. Obviously, it was not meant for her to have the baby at that time. I do not personally know Oprah as I am sure that most of you do not, but if that baby was alive today, she would not have had any regrets, what mother does.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tony

    Oprah, was a good get. She always seem refreshingly on. But Piers, Really! Was this what all the hype was about? I've watched CCNN at night for years: before John King, Campbell Brown, Parker/Spitzer and even Anderson Cooper (when Aaron Brown had that slot). I've enjoyed Larry King. His style may not have been “entertaining” or craving of celebrity hype, but it did provide a window into a wide array of opinion shapers. I do not expect King from Piers Morgan. But his first interview with Oprah, a good get, was wasted: He looked like a school kid trying to impress his boss, Oprah, and his viewers. I had, instead, hoped for a smart, sharp and witty hour. I now can see that is not possible: May sound harsh, but I do not believe this can be remedied with a learning curve, more “slickness,” or gimmicks. This is about capacity. Piers doesn’t have enough. I hope someone from CCN reads these blogs. If so, I would ask, Can we not have just one hour (out of 24) dedicated to smart, sharp TV that informs, analyzes and inspires? I see this with Fareed Zakaria, but do not find it elsewhere.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. paula

    help please

    January 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. annette

    What an absolutely wonderful interview and Oprah – one of my most admired persons- was equal to the challenge. It was a great choice for the first show- at least, so I thought until Pier basically said that he won't use a profanity before two people,the Queen of England and Oprah whom he considers as the Queen of the America. When I heard that, I wondered, ahah!, isn't Michelle Obama not only the first lady but Queen of America and in that case shouldn't she have had the priviledge of getting the first interview?. Just wondering. Great show. Pier is a gentleman with tact and decorum. Keep it going. Cheers

    January 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotSo

      A true gentleman will avoid profanity with everyone, not just two specific women. What makes them more deserving of courtesy than you, or the rest of us?

      January 18, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. truthinrock

    Too bad she didn't go through with it!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. melissa

    Wow... Maybe instead of everyone saying what a bad thing she did and what a bad person she is for NOT wanting a baby at the age of 14, maybe some of these other girls/women would be in a better place if they themselves didn't have children at such a young age or without a place to even raise these kids. What if she did have this child and she remained poor and couldn't provide for it what would of happened then,everyone would complain there goes another child that I have to support!!!or there goes another child hooked on drugs and the street life, yeah cause that's what I would want for my child that I couldn't provide for! Being a mother myself I don't see anything wrong in the way she was thinking. Maybe some of these other young girls should be thinking the same way! Kids should NOT be having kids!!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Snooks

    Wow, most of you are so judgmental! She didn't say she was happy the baby died! Abortions were not legal in the 60's & if she had had one no one would be talking about this. Oprah is worth millions and obviously the loss of the haters on this blog will have no impact on her wealth. If you don't like her, don't watch her or read about her. It's a choice we as Americans are able to make!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mauser

    im bloody freekin touched by oprahs story- maybe if she had kept her legs shut-u play u pay!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JRod

    It's obvious that Oprah is gay. Everyone has known this for HOW long........she should just end the speculation and come out already. I think she still fears that it will ruin her career, but Oprah's got so much money they've invested a phrase after her...."Oprah Money."

    Everyone knows what I say when I say that a dude has Oprah Money.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Liberal31

    Oprah was 14. And yes she saw the death of her child as a second chance. That doesn't mean she is a horrible person. It means she's human. And in her 14 year old mind that's how she felt.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. paula

    i assume my comments are not going to be posted?

    January 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tabita

    I hate the fact that people hate and then quote the bible. I am a christian and though I would not call myself a born again, I am well aware the first commandment from Jesus is love. So "Shay" REMEMBER...Judge not lest ye be judged! I am glad for Oprah. She is brave. Empathy in this world is lacking. What would I do if I am 14 yrs old and pregnant? Honestly, I have no idea.

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

      Wrong. Well, not so much wrong as imprecise. The Greatest Commandment is FIRST to LOVE GOD. And THEN to love they neighbor as thyself. If you don't FIRST love God, your claim to love your neighbor at all is entirely empty. God does not see dead babies as a "second chance." He grieves them. No wonder Oprah spends so much time, energy, and resources on secular righteous works. Her guilt is overwhelming, and her refusal to repent leaves her empty and lost. For all her riches, Oprah is a very sad character. May she find Jesus soon and change her heart and life.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • NotSo

      Well said, Seanmom.

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