Oprah wasn’t the right colour, class, size or sex when she set out to make her mark.
The world of TV was filled to the brim with middle-class, white male talk-show hosts.
Yet 35 years since the day the sore thumb determinedly elbowed her way in, Americans are convinced their world will be a sadder place without Oprah at its epicentre.
This week, at the close of her 25-year-long Oprah Winfrey Show, members of the audience wept as if they were bidding farewell to a member of their own family.
Never would they have shed a tear for the silver foxes, all smarm, charm and designer suits, whom she ousted from their swivel-chairs.
It speaks volumes about the monumental success one woman has achieved. She is the embodiment of the great American story of re-invention and empowerment; triumphing over humble beginnings thanks to self-belief.
She is the proof that anything is possible if you stop feeling sorry for yourself - and just try.
Oprah was sexually abused as a child. So many damaged children never grow up at all. Yet she grew up to be confident, happy and one of the most powerful, and loved, women in the world.
It is nothing short of miraculous that a woman from such dire beginnings ended up with seven million viewers a day and a president of her choice in the White House. (Many say she helped shape political history in her championing of Barrack Obama).
Oprah once said: “I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.”
The fact that she had come from a bad place made all those people who appeared on her show feel able to open up.
Caring, sharing, bossy and inspiring, she became her nation’s mother figure.
A Betty Crocker, post assertiveness course, she didn’t just put frosting on a problem, she got right down to the nub of it. Oprah made people analyse what went wrong with the recipe, then encouraged them to try it all over again.
No wonder Americas are mourning her exit.
Although can I point out they already have the perfect replacement in the wings?
One Michelle Obama. A dynamic, hugely positive black woman already inspiring young women to try, not cry.
Plus, she’s a dead-ringer for Oprah, don’t you think?