With an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion, there’s a lot of people who want to be Oprah Winfrey’s friend. The best social lubricant after money, though, tends to be fame: her insanely successful talk show, aired in 149 countries worldwide, went off the air more than three years ago, though she has yet to be forgotten. Oh, and power hardly hurts: this media mogul is founder of the modestly titled O, The Oprah Magazine and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) airing in more than 80 million homes across America.
Though cash is king, this trifecta of money, fame, and power has allowed Oprah to play kingmaker with her hangers-on, turning them into celebrities, accelerating them to the status others spend years trying to achieve.
The list below pays tribute to the favoured few in the court of the talk show queen.
10. Iyanla Vanzant – Net Worth: $200 Thousand
Her name means ‘Great Mother’ in Yoruba and eccentric job titles like ‘priestess’ and ordained New Thought minister didn’t stop Oprah from taking Iyanla Vanzant under her wing and making her a star. She made 20 appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show between 1998-1999 and now enjoys the status of having the number one program on the OWN Network – Iyanla: Fix My Life, a reality show that uses Vanzant’s skill as a life coach and motivational speaker to help ‘fix’ other people’s problems. Named as one of the ‘100 most influential Black Americans’ by Ebony magazine in 2000, it was recently announced that Iyanla is still in Lady O’s good books. She will join the eight-city ‘The Life You Want Weekend Tour’ as a keynote speaker set to take place later this year.
9. Bob Greene – Net Worth: $1.4 Million
How did fitness guru Bob Greene thank Oprah for making him a household name? By letting her be the ‘best woman’ at his 2005 wedding, of course. With a relationship that’s spanned more than two decades, the health nut made over a dozen appearances on O’s long-running talk show and pens a regular column in her magazine. He’s also co-authored two books with the media guru and built a mini empire helping women get fit. Although Oprah’s constant weight battle has put Greene under a microscope, you can’t really lay all the blame on the go-to trainer.
8. James Frey – Net Worth: $4.5 Million
“Oprah annihilated Frey!” proclaimed suspender king Larry King after A Million Little Pieces author, James Frey was summoned to appear on ‘Oprah Court’ to defend himself in 2006. A year earlier, Frey’s memoir had been chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection (ca-ching!) which soon after, became a huge success – a New York TimesBest Seller and the number one paperback nonfiction book on Amazon.com. When it was discovered that much of Frey’s memoir was fabricated, Oprah blasted him on air in front of her legions of viewers – a humiliation we thought he’d never overcome. Turns out, Frey did crawl out from under that rock. In 2007, the author signed a three-book, seven-figure deal with Harper Collins, and just this year, it was announced that Frey was working on a trilogy that will be turned into a reality game and movie.
7. Nate Berkus – Net Worth: $6 Million
Oprah was such a fan of interior decorator Nate Berkus that he became her go-to design guy: over the last ten years of The Oprah Winfrey Show, he made more than 50 guest appearances. With his signature flare for fashion, he’s enjoyed international success thanks to a couple of bestselling books, his own talk show (co-produced by Harpo Productions), a Target Home Collection, and a fabric collection launched in 2013. He’s also had the opportunity to dabble in acting, playing himself on the popular soap Days of Our Lives in 2011. Most recently, the design guru debuted American Dream Builders, an extreme home makeover reality show where he appears as judge and host.
6. Stedman Graham -Net Worth: $10 Million
Stedman Graham (a.k.a. ‘Honey Graham’) has been romantically involved with Ms. Winfrey since 1986. Famous first and foremost for being Oprah’s main squeeze, he’s also an educator, business consultant and author who has written more than ten business-related and self-help books. Stedman seems to spend as much of his time reminding us that he’s more than just Oprah’s boyfriend than we do talking about the fact that he’s Oprah’s boyfriend. “People put me in the box, you know. They define me by who she is, and she’s a wonderful person and a great woman, but that’s not – I’m not Oprah,” he told CBS This Morning back in 2012. “That’s who she is, that’s not me.”
5. Dr. Oz – Net Worth: $14 Million
There’s no medical issue Dr. Mehmet Oz won’t tackle. He first garnered attention with regular appearances on Oprah and though he’s been criticized by some for ‘non-scientific’ advice and his outspoken support of pseudosciences, this hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most well-known doctors around. Now in its sixth season, The Doctor Oz Show (Oprah’s second spin-off series featuring a regular guest) has enjoyed moderate success and earned him a number of accolades including a place on Esquire magazine’s ’75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century,’ along with multiple Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show and Host.
4. Gayle King – Net Worth: $20 Million
One thing we can all agree on is that without Oprah nobody would know (or care) about Gayle King. She was somehow a CBS This Morning co-anchor, Editor-At-Large for O, The Oprah Magazine, recurring guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America special correspondent, a radio and a two-time talk show host. Most recently, King made headlines when she was snapped aboard Winfrey’s yacht as they vacationed in the Virgin Islands. Noticeably absent? Oprah’s partner of almost 30-years, Stedman Graham.
3. Suze Orman – Net Worth: $35 Million
Self-proclaimed “financial truth crusader,” Suze Orman pens regular columns in O Magazine and was formerly host of the now defunct America’s Money Class on the OWN Network. Oprah’s “all-star” financial adviser was made a staple on Oprah. The two made headlines for their controversial episodes together, especially with ‘octomom’ Nadia Suleman (remember her?) in 2011.
2. Rachael Ray – Net Worth: $60 Million
In the beginning, bubbly chef du jour, Rachael Ray was turning heads – as much for her popular ’30-Minute Meals’ as she was for the sexy chocolate spoon licking, apron wearing photos that appeared in men’s lifestyle magazine FHM in 2003. She caught the attention of Ms. Winfrey herself and in 2006, Oprah helped the perky brunette launch her own talk show, Rachel Ray that went on to win two consecutive Emmys in 2008 and 2009. Her empire currently includes more than 20 cookbooks, her own magazine, a kitchen and dinnerware line, a bunch of cooking products, and she even coined the phrase ‘EVOO’ (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), which was added to The Oxford College Dictionary in 2007.
1. Dr. Phil – Net Worth: $245 Million
If those Texas cattle ranchers didn’t have such a’beef’ with Oprah, Dr. Phil would have never been. Before he became a household name, Phil McGraw was a happily married father of two with a P.h.D in psychology and a successful legal consulting business. That all changed in 1996 when he successfully helped the talk show host win a multi-million dollar lawsuit launched against her by angry ranchers who claimed she defamed the entire industry. He soon became a weekly staple thanks to ‘Tuesdays with Dr. Phil’ and won over Oprah’s viewers with his straight talk and relationship advice. Today, Dr. Phil is a six-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and in 2002 launched his own successful talk show (produced by Harpo Productions) where he gives advice to troubled guests.