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Oprah Winfrey -- who built a billion-dollar empire persuading everyone from celebs to average Joes to reveal the truth about themselves -- is a big phony when it comes to her own past, an explosive new book charges.
Winfrey's relationship with longtime "love" Stedman Graham, her reputed dirt-poor upbringing in rural Mississippi, her rumored lesbian crushes on women such as Diane Sawyer -- all are stories she has manipulated for decades in the name of sensational ratings, according to writer Kitty Kelley's latest unauthorized biography "Oprah." The much-anticipated book details how: * Winfrey concocted stories about sexual abuse she suffered as a child -- and grossly exaggerated the poverty she was brought up in.
As a teen, Winfrey was a wild child, promiscuous to the point of prostitution, her relatives said.
The future star would steal from her mother's purse, pawn her jewelry and even turn tricks.
"She may be admired by the world, but I know the truth," he says. Two of us remain ashamed." Vernon reserves his harshest words for Winfrey's best friend, Gayle King, who put the kibosh on a biography he was working on.
Calling her a "dirt hog" and "street heifer," he blames King for a rift in his relationship with Oprah.
"I thought I would be working for the warm and fuzzy person I saw on television," a former employee at Winfrey's Harpo production company said. Oprah allegedly does not know the true identity of her father.
Esters told Kelley who he is, on the condition she not publish the information until Winfrey's mother comes clean to her daughter.Later, determined to become rich and famous, Winfrey was ready to change her story to her advantage, making sure she cultivated her image as an everywoman, the book alleges.That meant she had to quell rumors about her sexuality."It's no big deal to have a brother who is homosexual, but apparently it was to Oprah.Tim also said he knew about some lesbian affairs." As for Winfrey's very public relationship with Graham, the pair do not even share a bedroom, according to the book. She did reportedly have one affair with a man -- "Entertainment Tonight's" John Tesh, while the two were working in Nashville.Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Miss., in 1954, and, the way she likes to tell it, she was so impoverished that she never had any new dresses or dolls and had to adopt two cockroaches as pets, naming them Melinda and Sandy. She may not have been well off, but Oprah was relatively "spoiled" as a little girl, her cousin said.