On Monday’s “Oprah Winfrey Show,” Oprah revealed a family secret that she had been harboring for months. Winfrey introduced her viewers to her half-sister, Patricia, a woman who she never even knew existed until just before Thanksgiving of last year.
Patricia is the biological daughter of Winfrey’s mother, Vernita Lee. According to Oprah, Lee gave the baby up for adoption back in 1963 because she couldn’t afford to take care of her. At the time, Oprah was 9 years old and living in Tennessee with her father , so she didn’t even know that her mother had been pregnant.
But while the on-air reunion between Oprah and Patricia was a joyous occasion, several other Winfrey family matters came to light.
Oprah outlined her family tree- which included two deceased siblings that he mother had also given birth to. She also reminded viewers that she herself had given birth to a baby at age 14, but the baby died.
How did Oprah’s brother and sister die?
Oprah’s half-sister, Pat, died in 2003. Winfrey told viewers that she had put her sister through drug rehab twice, but, sadly, she just couldn’t overcome her demons. Pat’s daughters were in the audience, recounting happier times and marveling at the uncanny resemblance between their deceased mother and her new half-sister, Patricia. Winfrey said that Patricia is “what Pat would have been on her best day.”
Oprah also made mention of her deceased half-brother brother, Jeffrey. It is widely believed that Jeffrey died of Aids in December, 1988, although Winfrey did not elaborate on his cause of death.
Oprah told viewers of the shame that she felt when she became pregnant at age 14 and gave birth to a premature baby boy. The baby died shortly after his birth. Oprah also revealed that it was her now-deceased sister, Pat, who went to the tabloids and sold the story of her secret teen pregnancy. According to the New York Post, in 1990 Pat was paid $19,000 by the National Enquirer for the details on Oprah’s teen pregnancy.
Last week on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” Winfrey admitted that she felt no connection to her baby.
As for the Winfrey family secrets, are there any more skeletons ready to come out of the closet? In 2010, author Kitty Kelley published her unauthorized biography of Winfrey, claiming that Vernon Winfrey, the man who raised Oprah, is not the her biological father.
Sounds like news to Oprah. When she unveiled her family tree to viewers on Monday, she stated that she was born on January 29, 1954 to Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee.
“The Oprah Winfrey Show”, January, 24, 2011