With Oprah being in the news about ending her show it reminds me of my claim to fame… I was on one of her “Favorite Things” shows. In November of 2003, my sister tried to get tickets online to go to Oprah’s show in Chicago. The Oprah show called my sister at work, at her home in Chicago, her home in Door County and finally tracked her down on her cell phone while we were visiting our mom in the hospital. The Oprah people told my sister they didn’t have the date she wanted but they had a different date and would that work? My sister told the Oprah people yes, but we were in a quandary, mom was in the hospital with pnuemonia and we didn’t want to leave her… so we didn’t want to go. My mom insisted we go since she adored Oprah and it seemed like fate. My sister got four tickets so Nellie and I, my sister Gail and her administrative assistant each got a ticket. The Oprah people were very insistent that no changes could be made… no changing of people. So off we went. We stayed overnight in Chicago and got in line early, probably by 6 a.m. for an 8 o’clock show. We were about 6th in line. We wore really nice clothes as Oprah’s audience is always well dressed. When we finally got inside they had a coat check and we had to fill out our name, address and etc. on a piece of paper. Then they took us (around 350 people) upstairs to wait. At this point we kind of lost our place since it was just a big room and we were no longer in line. Then they lead us down to our seats a few at a time. The front rows were reserved and when we got down there the crew asked if we would like to sit in the front… of course we would! There was a Kleenex box underneath each seat which got us a little worried. Then they lead in a different group of people to a set of reserved seats and said the show was something very serious and had something to do with these people… my only hope was that it wasn’t something bad about children. We found out later that these people had won a radio contest to be on this very show and were sworn to secrecy. They do the show “live to tape” meaning they don’t cut anything and it is essentially live, but it is shown at a later date or time. Next thing, the Oprah theme song starts playing and Oprah walks out near where we were sitting so we got to touch her hands as she walked through. In real life, Oprah looks smaller and even prettier than she does on TV. So she gets to the front and there isn’t a set or a chair or anything and the audience is just going crazy clapping and cheering for Oprah. She finally gets everybody settled down and the first thing out of Oprah’s mouth is “Have you all felt that you have never won anything in your life?” Now the audience goes wild hoping this was THE show and then she says “Today is your lucky day!!!” Now everyone goes completely crazy… screaming, crying, clapping. We all are in just a frenzy. Now snow starts to fall and a winter scene drops down from the ceiling and Oprah cannot control the chaos. Now Oprah says “Lets calm down so we can get to the party!” So finally, everyone sits down and the show begins. Item after item is announced with wild applause and handed out to all of us. Some items were handed out, but given back at the end in the form of a gift certificate. My favorite item was a Sony Camcorder that recorded on a DVD… I hadn’t even heard of such a thing at the time. We got designer clothes, jewelry, food… around $5000 worth of the coolest things ever. Here is the list…
- Frontgate’s Portable DVD Player
- Ralph Lauren Black Label Cashmere Slim Fit Crewneck Sweater
- Melted Chocolate Cake Batter
- Greenberg Smoked Turkeys
- Barefoot Dreams Robes, Adult throws
- Cliff and Buster Macaroons
- The Gingerbread Man by Philosophy
- Pure Simplicity Pumpkin Purifying Mask
- Davies Gates Allspice Cinnamon Powder Sugar Soak
- O, The Oprah Magazine
- MAC Cosmetic Carrying Case
- Nike Dri-FIT Workout Outfit
- FoodSaver Vac 800 by Tilia, Inc.
- Cambio Jeans
- BlackBerry Wireless E-mail Device
- Frederic Fekkai Crème Luxeuse, Apple Cider Clean
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Ugg Classic Short Boots
- Judith Ripka Two Necklace
- Philip Stein Teslar Watch
- Sony DCR-DVD200 Handycam
- The Neiman Marcus Cookbook
We each carried out 2 huge bags of stuff out to dozens of waiting Yellow Cabs. We took the goods back to our hotel, packed them into our car and headed back to Door County. On the way home we called everyone we knew and told them the news. It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life.
When the show aired the during the week of Thanksgiving, Mark and I headed to my parents house to watch it. We had cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres and watched the show. My mom was so excited she cried. They showed Nellie and I numerous times and Nellie even made the Favorite Things Show commercial. My mom dressed up that day, one of the last days she did so. She died a couple months later.
Of course there were the critics… David Letterman did a funny skit about the show as did other comedians. Some thought the show was materialistic and the money should have gone to needier people. Oprah told us she felt she wanted to give to just regular people… most of us mothers who probably on a day to day basis were giving to their family each and every day. Yeah, I’ll go with that.
I invited Oprah to stay at Egg Harbor Lodge as my guest… she hasn’t responded yet. Oprah, the invitation still stands…