Talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey took her final bow in a taped episode that aired Wednesday, marking the end of her 25-year daytime talk show with a tearful goodbye.
"You all have been a safe harbor for me," Winfrey told her audience. "My hope is that you will be that safe harbor for someone else."
The media mogul signed off by walking through her audience and offering an e-mail address -- email@example.com -- by which her many fans may contact her.
"I want you to know that what you have to say matters to me," she said, pledging to read as many e-mails as possible.
The final "Oprah Winfrey Show" audience included her boyfriend, Stedman Graham, filmmaker Tyler Perry and her fourth-grade teacher, a woman she called Mrs. Duncan.
Winfrey said she has no regrets, though wished she could have done more to combat sexual predators of children.
She then turned to Perry, who sat beside 200 other men in the audience who were once victims of sexual abuse as children.
"They are standing together to lift the veil of shame," she said. Each man carried a photo of himself as a child.
In the end, Winfrey said her departure isn't bittersweet, but rather "all sweet and no bitter."
"Every single day I came down from my makeup room, I'd offer a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to have done this work. To be embraced by all of you, it's one of the greatest honors a human being can have," she said. "Many of us have been together for 25 years. ... So I thank you all for your support and trust in me. I thank you for tuning in every day. ... I won't say good-bye, I'll just say, until we meet again."
Beyond her studio audience, people like Funda Ray also reminisced about how Winfrey turned her daytime talk show into a televised forum for self-help.
When Ray arrived on these shores two decades ago from her native Turkey, she hardly spoke English. But she learned, went to school and even college. Today, she works as a financial adviser's assistant. And she said it's all because of Oprah.
"She inspired me so much," said Ray, 44, of Hibbing, Minn. "If it wasn't for her, I would have sat at home."
Ray was recording the last episode of Oprah Winfrey's show Wednesday -- she couldn't be home in time to watch. "I'm going to miss her so much," she said.
The talk-show queen capped three days of farewell broadcasts that included appearances by Hollywood's top celebrities.
Winfrey announced in 2009 that she was leaving the show that catapulted her into a household name and made her a part of American culture and a worldwide celebrity. Even Ray's mother, who arrived from Istanbul for a U.S. visit last week, got off the plane and asked her daughter: "Do you know Oprah is retiring?"
Winfrey's popularity and credibility go hand in hand: If she gushed about a book, it became an instant best-seller. An appearance on her show was almost always followed by a rise in profile for the guest.
Paula Pervall, 44, administrative assistant at the Elmhurst House of Friendship, an assisted living home in Wheeling, West Virginia, is among millions of Oprah fans.
"I think that it's sad that the up-and-coming generation is not going to be able to experience what she offered my generation -- the self-help, the inspiration to do better," Pervall said. "She was very inspiring to people. She taught a lot of lessons."
Oprah bids farewell in final show
Daytime talk-show queen says she has no regrets in tearful goodbye
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