Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King: Example of True Best Friends

Updated on March 11, 2019
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about various things, including celebrities and entertainment.

Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey
Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey | Source

Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King have been best friends for forty-three years. Most people think Gayle has used Oprah's celebrity status to get ahead. That is far from the truth. Gayle is successful in her own ways.

There is a very interesting story about how the two women met. It is also interesting how they bonded over the years and how their friendship has lasted so long.

How Oprah and Gayle Met

Oprah and Gayle worked at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Maryland in 1976, but they didn't know each other and surely they were not friends at the time. Oprah was an anchor and Gayle was a production assistant.

After a bad snowstorm hit the city, Gayle was unable to get home one evening. Oprah invited her to spend the night and let her borrow clothes to wear to work the next day, including underwear. They stayed up all night just chatting.

The next day the women went shopping at Casual Corner at the mall. Gayle was shocked when Oprah bought two sweaters at $19.99 each, one for each of them. Later in life, Gayle confessed that she was making only $27 an hour while Oprah was making $50. Gayle was quick to say that Oprah's money has never been an issue with their friendship, and she has never felt beneath Oprah.

Gayle King
Gayle King | Source

Gayle reminisced about that snowy night years later and said in an interview tht she had met someone like her. The two women have a lot of things in common. In fact, Oprah's middle name is Gail. They were both born in 1954. Oprah turned 65 years old on January 29, 2019, and Gayle will turn 65 on December 28.

Both friends have a passion for journalism even though that was not the major for either one of them. Gayle graduated from the University of Maryland in 1976 with a double degree in psychology and sociology the same year she and Oprah became friends. Oprah graduated from Tennessee State University with a degree in education.

Different Backgrounds

Gayle had a better childhood than Oprah. Her father worked for the U.S. government. The family had a swimming pool and housekeeper in Turkey. Oprah’s teenage mom worked as a maid in rural Mississippi.

They still have a lot in common because of their work in journalism and other interests. Oprah once said that she and Gayle grew up as black girls striving to do better in their lives.

Gayle King and Oprah

Friendship of Two Women

Gayle King
Oprah Winfrey
Born Gayle King
Born Oprah Gail Winfrey
December 28, 1954
January 29, 1954
Married William G. Bumpus 1982, Divorced 1993
Never Married; in relationship with Stedman Graham since 1986
Children: Daughter Kirby 33, Son William, 26. Oprah is godmother of both children
Son Canaan born 1968, died 1968
Education: University of Maryland
Education: Tennessee State University
Networth: $20 million
Networth: $2.6 billion
Salary: $5.5 million
Salary: $80 million
Height: 5′ 10″
Height: 5′ 7″
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham | Source

According to Stedman Graham

Oprah and Stedman Graham have been in a relationship for 33 years. Some people have accused Gayle of being a third wheel. Neither Gayle, Oprah, or Stedman say that is true.

Stedman said Gayle is someone he cares for and she is like family. He said he is glad Oprah has someone like Gayle as a friend. It seems as if all three of them are on the same page about their relationship.

Do Gayle and Oprah Agree on Everything?

Oprah and Gayle do not agree on everything. They can take compliments and criticisms from each other. Oprah said she can see Gayle on television on her morning show wearing something unappealing. Oprah will get in touch with her and tell her so. Gayle does the same thing to Oprah about fashion and hairstyles.

Oprah said their biggest disputes have been about birthday and Christmas gifts. Oprah is completely against them. Therefore, they no longer exchange gifts.

Traveling Together

Once Winfrey and King took a two-day, 3,600-mile road trip together. It was documented for Oprah hit talk show when it was on the air.

Gayle helped Oprah celebrate her recent birthday when she turned 65 in January. The women with 2,600 of their closest friends went on a three-day “Girls’ Getaway” trip on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam ship.

Being There For Each Other

In an interview with Barbara Walters, Oprah said she often tells Gayle how much she appreciates their friendship. Oprah said, "Gayle is the mother she never had. She is the sister everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves."

The two best friends talk on the phone about three or four times a day. They have been supportive of each other for four decades. When Gayle found a naked woman in her bed with her ex-husband, Oprah was there to support her through a bitter divorce.

Gayle and Oprah were there for each other throughout their weight challenges, Oprah's lawsuit, and even though rumors that there was more to their relationship than just being friends.

On New Year’s Eve in 2014 King sprained her ankle during a Hawaiian vacation. Oprah flew in Gayle's family to be with her while she was in the hospital.

Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King Throwback Photo (1976)
Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King Throwback Photo (1976) | Source

Other Friends

Even though Oprah and Gayle are best friends, they have their own individual friends. Gayle is a good friend of Howard Stern even though Stern and Winfrey are critical of each other.

Oprah had a long friendship with Maria Shriver. Before her death, Maya Angelou was Oprah's mentor and close friend. Oprah called Angelou her "mother-sister-friend."

Gayle Works for Oprah

Gayle works for Oprah, but Oprah is more than a boss. She worked as a special correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show. King began hosting The Gayle King Show on OWN, her best friend's network on January 3, 2011. It ended on November 17, 2011, when Gayle accepted her current position to co-anchor CBS This Morning. She has been the editor of O, The Oprah Magazine since 1999.

Not in Oprah's Shadow

Gayle is a good sport. She doesn't complain when she is often described as Oprah's best friend rather than by her own name. Gayle is not riding on Oprah's coat tail. The CBS This Morning anchor has emerged on her own terms.

King told the New York Times in 1998 that she takes something to the table in the relationship. She emphasized that she is secure enough with herself to not let it bother her if people think she is less than Oprah. Gayle set the record straight by saying, "I never feel I'm in her shadow. I feel I'm in her light, that's how I look at it."

Things to Take Away from the Article

God created Oprah to be Oprah, and God created Gayle to be Gayle. Hopefully, people will see that Gayle King is not lesser than Oprah Winfrey, and she doesn't walk in Oprah's shadow. They are two different women with their individual dreams who happen to be best friends.

Neither one of the women thinks one is better than the other. The public shouldn't think that way either.


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    • profile image

      Anne Cox 

      17 months ago

      Their road trip and camping at Yosemite was the quintessential way to go! They so much reminded me of Lucy and Ethel.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      17 months ago from U.S.A.

      Great article on two respected and cherished figures in American media and entertainment. Thanks.



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