What do Chicago and the biggest names in Hollywood have in common? Love for Oprah Winfrey. The biggest names in Hollywood came out to Chicago’s United Center to bid a fond farewell to the queen of talk — Oprah Winfrey.
The United Center played host to the biggest party thrown by The Oprah Winfrey Show ever — with a show called Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.
The woman of the night addressed the estimated 13,000 fans that packed the home of the Chicago Bulls. “Thank you for being a part of this great night, this celebration of what you have done for The Oprah Winfrey Show. You have made it possible for us to stand for 25 years,” she said.
The evening was taped as part of two episodes to be aired next week. Tom Hanks, who served as master of ceremonies for a good part of the evening, stood beside his friend and asked her to take it all in. “You are surrounded by nothing but love,” he said. “I feel the love, and I thank you for it,” Oprah Winfrey gushed.
It wouldn’t be an Oprah Winfrey bash without Tom Cruise. He strutted on stage to the theme of Mission Impossible, reminding Oprah of the Glinda the Good Witch quote she told us all to live by: “You always had the power [to change lives], and that is the lesson you brought.”
Madonna honored Winfrey by paying tribute to her strength and heart. “A lot of people are inspired by Oprah. I am one of those people,” Madonna said. “She has balls and a wealth of compassion, and I have learned so much from her.”
Halle Berry spoke of Oprah Winfrey’s viewers, saying, “They have literally risen up to change the world. The essence of The Oprah Winfrey Show is that we’re all more alike than we are different.”
Some big name bands serenaded Winfrey and her fans, including Beyonce, Rascal Flatts and Josh Groban. Groban joined Patti LaBelle for a sob-worthy rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
In a surprise of the night, John Legend revealed by satellite that 25 new libraries will be constructed in the United States in Oprah Winfrey’s honor. Diane Sawyer also delivered another tear-worthy moment — 25,000 oak trees are going to be rooted “to remind everyone to live their best lives.”
That was only the first part of the evening. Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith joined in the fun for the second show, as did Michael Jordan, Dr. Oz, Jamie Foxx and Aretha Franklin. Yes, we said Aretha Franklin. The icon sang Amazing Grace.
Wonder what her longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham said? The normally quiet Graham said, “I’m so proud of you and your success. The show has been number one for 25 years, which is a credit to you and your team and millions of viewers around the world. This is amazing. It amazes me to be around a woman who changes lives every day and takes her own lunch to work.” He added, “I love you for making a difference in my life.”
The jam-packed two episode arc will air May 23 and 24 right ahead of the May 25 finale. What will you miss most about The Oprah Winfrey Show?