Monday, January 24, 2011
Now this is truly a touching story.
Last Thursday, Oprah Winfrey told viewers on her syndicated talk show that she would have a big reunion on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' on Monday.
Though she didn't disclose with whom, the talk show titan shared that it involved something she's learned about recently and is only known to her closest friends.
"I thought I'd seen it all. But this, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles," Winfrey said in show commercials.
Winfrey's big announcement is that sometime around Thanksgiving of last year, she discovered she had a half-sister she never knew about.
The 56-year-old television mogul had believed for years that she was her parent's last living child – younger siblings Jeffrey and Patricia are both deceased.
Winfrey learned that her mother, Vernita Lee, had another daughter who, oddly enough, is also named Patricia. Sources say that the two have already met in person, and Winfrey's talk show reveal is only to introduce her sister to the world.
At press time, details were sketchy as to why Winfrey was unaware of her sister's existence until now. Patricia was raised in the foster care system after Lee gave her up for adoption.
Born in Kosciusko, Miss., to her unmarried teenage parents, Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee, Winfrey was raised at various points in her life by a grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee; her parents; and even a stepmother according to biographies on her.
In a December interview for an ABC special with Barbara Walters, Winfrey acknowledged that she provides for both of parents monetarily.
When asked about her relationship with her parents, she confessed she isn't extremely close to them.
"I would not say that I have been the kind of daughter that calls home every week and is checking in with my parents," she told Walters. "I wouldn't say that we're terribly close."
Winfrey will formally make the announcement about Patricia on her talk show at 9 a.m. CST, which is when her show airs live in Chicago. She wants to introduce her sister so that the media does not exploit the story.
Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died on Sunday. He was 96.
LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, his longtime agent Rick Hersh said.
Lalanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.
"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, Lalanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.
Just before he had heart valve surgery in 2009 at age 95, Jack Lalanne told his family that dying would wreck his image, his publicist Ariel Hankin said at the time.
LaLanne (pronounced lah-LAYN') credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform others' lives, too.
"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," LaLanne said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."
His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the '70s. LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.
He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and in recent years touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.
When he turned 43 in 1957, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on the 'You Asked For It' television show. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco - handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor.
He maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."
"I never think of my age, never," LaLanne said in 1990. "I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I'm just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They're more productive than they've ever been in their whole lives right now."
Fellow bodybuilder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger credited LaLanne with taking exercise out of the gymnasium and into living rooms.
"He laid the groundwork for others to have exercise programs, and now it has bloomed from that black and white program into a very colorful enterprise," Schwarzenegger said in 1990.
In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow and "muscle bound" and made a woman look masculine.
"You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights," he once said. "It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out.
"It was the same with women. Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer," LaLanne said.
The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.
The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.
"He got me so enthused," LaLanne said. "After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, 'Jack, you're a walking garbage can.'"
Soon after, LaLanne constructed a makeshift gym in his back yard. "I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs," he said.
He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.
"It's a lifestyle, it's something you do the rest of your life," LaLanne said. "How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.
Rumors have surfaced in the past regarding 'New Kids on the Block member' Jonathan Knight's sexuality, but the pop performer has never admitted to being gay.
However, '80s teen queen Tiffany told millions of TV viewers last Thursday that Knight indeed is gay.
Tiffany appeared on Bravo's 'Watch What Happens: Live,' alongside Debbie Gibson, to discuss the singers' role in the upcoming Syfy original movie, 'Mega Python vs. Gatoroid,' premiering Jan. 29.
During their sitdown, host Andy Cohen asked Tiffany if she had cozied up with any of the NKOTB boys back in her days as a touring mall songstress. Her response: Jonathan Knight.
"The quiet one, the shy one," Tiffany admitted. "[Jonathan Knight] became gay later. I didn't do it. I had issues with that. I was thinking maybe I did. Now looking back when we were dating he was so much fun. We used to do facials together. He was so easy to talk to."
No statement from Knight has been released yet regarding Tiffany's controversial remarks.