Kitty Kelley’s unauthorized tell-all book about Oprah Winfrey will hit stores tomorrow stuffed with explosive revelations about the TV host from the least likely person – her own father.
Kelley followed up a lengthy April 22, 2008 telephone interview with Vernon Winfrey with a visit to his East Nashville barber shop two days later – at his invitation – where she spoke to him for “many more hours,” Kelley writes in the preface.
Among other things, Mr. Winfrey calls his daughter’s best friend Gayle a “heifer,” and insinuates that she has a romantic crush on Barack Obama
Below are some book excerpts from their conversations:
“Oprah had a way of keeping my blood up. If I pulled east, she’d tug west. If I pointed north, she was hell-bent on south. She wasn’t an unpleasant child. In fact, her company was a great joy to me. But she did have a problem with directions.” (Page 38)
“It disappoints me that she has changed so much over the years. She’s become too close to that woman Gayle, and she no longer believes in Jesus Christ as her personal savior. That’s just not how I raised her.” (Page 29)
“Forget about a wedding…It will never happen…She won’t ever marry Stedman because…she’s all for herself and not about to give up anything for anyone. She’s content with who she is. With Oprah, it’s root hog or die poor… (Page 152)
“She may be admired by the world, but I know the truth. So does God and so does Oprah. Two of us remain ashamed.” [He then pointed to a sign hanging above his barber chair that read: “Live so the preacher won’t have to tell lies at your funeral.”] (Page 29)
“I’m supporting (Obama) on the issues. Oprah might be supporting him for something else…her adoring eyes and all…I can tell you that Stedman isn’t getting any of that.”
Also revealed in Kelly’s book are claims that Winfrey and former “Entertainment Tonight” co-host John Tesh were lovers who shared an apartment in Nashville, Tenn. in the mid-1970s.
The pair both had broadcast-TV jobs in Nashville at the time. Tesh, now 57, abandoned Winfrey, now 56, because of the intense “social pressure” of their interracial romance, the book claims.
“He said one night he looked down and saw his white body next to her black body and couldn’t take it anymore,” another Tesh ex-girlfriend told Kelley. “He walked out in the middle of the night. … He told me he later felt very guilty about it.”
Tesh, now a New Age musician and syndicated radio host, appeared on the 10th anniversary of Winfrey’s show, when Winfrey claimed that they had simply shared a “platonic dinner date.”
Kelley also interviewed Winfrey’s family members in Kosciusko, Miss.; some of whom do not believe Winfrey’s claims that she was sexually abused as a child, Kelley writes.
“I don’t believe a bit of it,” cousin Katherine Esters told Kelley. “No one in the family believes her stories (of sexual abuse) but now that she’s so rich and powerful everyone is afraid to contradict her.”
Esters, 81, also claims that Vernon Winfrey is not Oprah’s biological father. But Kelley tells People.com she left this bombshell out of the book because Winfrey’s mother has been unwilling to tell her daughter over the years.