1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Surprise! It’s a half-sister for Oprah

  1. Closed captioning of: Surprise! It’s a half-sister for Oprah

    >> oprah's big secret revealed. on monday she introduced the world to the half sister she only recently learned she had. jeff rossen has details. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning to you. oprah said she's been keeping the secret for months. a half sister named patricia from milwaukee. oprah said her mom kept it from her for years. now a dna test confirms it. they reunited, where else, her show.

    >> i wanted you to hear the truth from me. my sister patricia is here. come on out.

    >> reporter: that's her, oprah 's long lost half sister , nine years younger. oprah calls it a miracle. oprah 's mother put patricia up for adoption when she was a baby and never told anyone including oprah herself.

    >> you're going to make me cry, so be patient.

    >> reporter: believe it or not, patricia found out oprah was her cyster in 2007 . problem is no one would listen.

    >> she tried and tried again, even wrote an e-mail to our offices back in 2007 that we tracked but nobody would have given me an e-mail with somebody saying, i'm your sister. she never thought once to go to the press, thought to sell this story. [ applause ]

    >> reporter: amazing, considering patricia has lived such a tough life. foster care until she was 7, pregnant at 17 and years later, poring through adoption records finally found her real family. oprah found out about it just months ago.

    >> there she is.

    >> reporter: and met her for the first time on thanksgiving.

    >> what does it make you feel now to have that void filled for you?

    >> you feel whole.

    >> really?

    >> you feel complete. because before that you don't know.

    >> reporter: special for oprah , too. her other sister and brother both passed away.

    >> oprah 's sister patricia lee lloyd died of an overdose several years ago and her brother died of aids. this is the only sibling that oprah has.

    >> reporter: on her show, oprah confronted her mother about why she kept the secret so long.

    >> why didn't you want to own up to it?

    >> i thought it was a terrible thing for me to do that i had done, gave up my daughter when she was born.

    >> reporter: as a child, oprah lived with her father and never knew her mother was pregnant with patricia . no mention of who patricia 's father is.

    >> reporte this isn't the first time oprah has revealed secrets on tv. admitting she was molested as a little girl . that as a teenager she gave birth to a child who died and as a young woman even smoked crack cocaine and she heavily promoted this.

    >> this, my friends is the miracle of all miracles.

    >> reporter: for her show's final season.

    >> patricia and i are still sorting all of this out. she's so sweet. she would call me and say, are you all right? i know this is hard for you to process. yes, it is!

    >> reporter: by the way, patricia has two kids so oprah has a new niece and nephew as well. where does the relationship go from here?

    >> jeff, thank you.

    >> she said she's still processing it.

    >> i think the most important thing she said on the show is her half sister never once thought about going to the press and never thought about cashing in on the story. that's extremely admirable.

Image: Oprah Winfrey, Patricia
George Burns  /  AP
Oprah Winfrey greets her half-sister Patricia during Monday's "Oprah Winfrey Show."
By
updated 1/25/2011 9:32:19 AM ET 2011-01-25T14:32:19

Oprah Winfrey has discovered she has a half-sister — a Milwaukee woman who was given up for adoption by Winfrey's mother nearly 50 years ago, when the talk show host was eight years old.

An emotional Winfrey introduced her newly found sibling to viewers Monday and explained the woman's persistent quest to find her birth mother.

Grio.com: Can Oprah's 'secrets' surprise us anymore?

"This, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles," Winfrey said before bringing out the 48-year-old woman, who throughout the program was identified only as Patricia, with no mention of her occupation or any other details.

After years of searching for blood relatives, the woman met Winfrey on Thanksgiving Day of last year.

Video: Surprise! It’s a half-sister for Oprah (on this page)
  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

When Patricia was born in Milwaukee in 1963, the young Winfrey was living with her father and did not even know her mother was pregnant, she said.

Patricia, who Winfrey said bounced from foster home to foster home until she was adopted at age 7, had given up after previous searches for her mother. But she decided to resume looking several years ago at the insistence of her grown children.

The effort seemed to hit a dead end when a woman from the Wisconsin adoption agency called to respond to her inquiries.

"She was telling me that my birth mother had called her back, and she had made the decision at that particular time that she did not want to see me," Patricia said.

Coincidentally, on the local news that day was a story about Winfrey' mother, Vernita Lee, who revealed details about two of her children who had since died. Those details, Patricia said, matched information she had seen in papers about her own adoption.

Winfrey's mother also said that one of the deceased children had been named Patricia.

"The hairs on the back of my neck stood up," Patricia said. "Because I knew one of my siblings and I shared the same name."

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Later, she found more matching details, including the fact that Winfrey was born in 1954, the same year as the woman Patricia knew was her surviving sibling.

Patricia found the daughter of Winfrey's dead sister in Milwaukee, and they took a DNA test that confirmed their relationship.

Lee, who recently suffered a minor stroke, said she never told Winfrey about her half-sister, "because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done, gave up my daughter when she was born."

Winfrey said documents from the girl's birth reveal that Lee gave up the baby for adoption because she did not think she could get off welfare if she kept the child.

"I made the decision to give her up because I wasn't able to take care of her," Lee said during a recorded interview that aired Monday. "So when I left the hospital, I told the nurse I wasn't going to keep the baby."

Winfrey said she was particularly stunned by the news because of the way it came out.

She said Patricia had known since 2007 that the two were related, but never attempted to profit off her discovery, even as she tried unsuccessfully to contact Winfrey, her mother or others in Winfrey's family.

Had Patricia sold her remarkable story to the tabloids, she would have likely received a healthy sum for the exclusive. A magazine cover story can earn as much as $75,000, and given that Patricia's half-sister turned out to be one of the largest figures in the entertainment world and one of the wealthiest women in the United States, her theoretical payday could have been even more.

"She never once thought to sell the story," Winfrey said, recalling how she felt betrayed by others who have sought to take advantage of their relationship with her.

She said Patricia had known since 2007 that the two were related, but never attempted to profit off her discovery or contact the press, even as she tried unsuccessfully to contact Winfrey, her mother or others in Winfrey's family.

"She never once thought to sell the story," Winfrey said, recalling how she felt betrayed by others who have sought to take advantage of their relationship with one of the largest figures in the entertainment world and one of the wealthiest women in the United States.

Winfrey, for example, recalled how her other sister revealed to the press years ago that Winfrey had had a baby when she was a teenager. The baby, Winfrey has said, died shortly after birth. And she talked about putting her sister in rehab twice for drug addiction, but that her sister ultimately died.

  1. Most popular

Patricia said she didn't consider revealing that she and Winfrey were half-sisters to anyone but Winfrey, explaining that she did not want to hurt Winfrey.

"Family business should be handled by family," Patricia said. "It couldn't be handled by anyone else. That's not fair. It wouldn't be fair to you."

Winfrey said she was heartened by learning that she had a half-sister, saying it "feels like closure" for the sister who died.

"It feels to me like you are Pat on her very best day," Winfrey told the woman. "You are what she wanted to be without the drugs."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Oprah Winfrey

loading photos...
  1. Defying police in 'Selma'

    Oprah Winfrey plays Annie Lee Cooper in "Selma" a 54-year-old woman who punched the notoriously racist county sheriff Jim Clark after he denied her the right to register to vote. The film chronicles the three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. Oprah Winfrey produces (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. I have a dream

    Oprah Winfrey holds up her hand during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington August 28, 2013. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'The Butler'

    Oprah Winfrey isn't just a talk-show host. Her acting has been critically acclaimed. She received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for playing the wife of White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) in "The Butler" in 2013. (Anne Marie Fox / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Freedom come

    President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to broadcast journallist Oprah Winfrey during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. YOU get a thank you, and YOU get a thank you...

    Winfrey acknowledges fans during a star-studded taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," in Chicago on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Her famed talk show went off the air after 25 years as Winfrey moves to her OWN network. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Honor from Hizzoner

    In one of his last acts before leaving office, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley presents Winfrey with a sign after a street was named in her honor outside her Harpo Studios in Chicago on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Presidential visitors

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are pictured with Winfrey during a taping of one of her last shows in Chicago on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Winfrey memorably cried tears of joy when Obama was elected. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. On her OWN

    Winfrey, chairman of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, announces the new original programming for the channel's Jan. 1, 2011 launch to members of the advertising and media communities on Thursday, April 8, 2010 in New York. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Going Gaga

    Oprah Winfrey wears sunglasses and holds a hair bow given to her by Lady Gaga, left, after a live broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 in Chicago. (George Burns / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Backed by Oprah

    Executive producers Tyler Perry, right, and Oprah Winfrey walk the red carpet at the AFI Fest 2009 gala screening of their new film "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" in Hollywood on Nov. 1, 2009. (Fred Prouser / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Chicago's failed Olympic bid

    First lady Michelle Obama, left, sits next to Winfrey and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, right, at the opening ceremonies of the 121st International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session and XIII Olympic Congress at the Copenhagen Opera House on Oct. 1, 2009, in Copenhagen. Despite the star power backing its bid to host the 2016 Olympics, Chicago was eliminated during the first round. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The queen of daytime

    Winfrey, right, performs with the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie, center, and will.i.am, left, in Chicago on Sept. 8, 2009, while taping an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The episode was taped on a three-block stretch of Michigan Avenue near the Chicago River to celebrate the show's 24th season. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Honorary degree

    Winfrey smiles at Duke president Richard Brodhead after receiving her honorary degree from Duke University during a graduation ceremony in Durham, N.C., on May 10, 2009. Her godson, William Bumpus, son of her well-known friend, Gayle King, was among the graduates. (John Rottet / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A powerful woman

    Oprah Winfrey arrives at the 17th Annual Women In Entertainment Power 100 Breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2008. Winfrey was No. 1 on the list, which is compiled by the Hollywood Reporter. (Katy Winn / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Book promoter

    Winfrey holds a copy of her September 2008 pick for her Book Club -- David Wroblewski's "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle." Since launching her Book Club in 1996, Winfrey has helped authors from Toni Morrison to Joyce Carol Oates sell millions of books. (George Burns / Harper Productions via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Helping to celebrate

    Winfrey arrives for the birthday dinner party of former South African President Nelson Mandela at Hyde Park in London on June 25, 2008. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The 'O' endorsement

    In another first for the talk-show maven, Winfrey endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president in 2007. She hosted a fundraiser for Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, on Sept. 8, 2007, at her home in Montecito, Calif. That weekend, Winfrey made four joint appearances with Obama at various campaign stops. (Harpo Productions via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. For the girls

    On Jan. 2, 2007, Winfrey, center, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of her Leadership Academy for Girls School in South Africa. "The school will teach girls to be the best human beings they can ever be; it will train them to become decision-makers and leaders; it will be a model school for the rest of the world," Winfrey wrote on the academy's Web site. (Denis Farrell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Oprah, Dave ... Dave, Oprah

    David Letterman walks hand-in-hand with Winfrey from the Ed Sullivan Theater to the premiere of her new musical "The Color Purple" at the nearby Broadway Theater after Winfrey made an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Dec. 1, 2005, in New York. For years Letterman had a running joke about how Oprah didn't like him. (Jason Decrow / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Red-carpet ready

    Winfrey, right, and actress Halle Berry strike a pose for the cameras on the red carpet at the 77th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 2005. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. In front of, and behind, the camera

    Winfrey brought her own camcorder to the 30th Annual People's Choice Awards on Jan. 11, 2004, in Pasadena, Calif. (Carlo Allegri / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Powerful friends

    Winfrey joined U2 frontman and philantrophist Bono at a gala dinner before the "Give 1 Minute to AIDS" concert for The Nelson Mandela Foundation's 46664 campaign held at Greenpoint Stadium on Nov. 27, 2003, in Cape Town, South Africa. (Dave Benett / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Hall of Famer

    Winfrey was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Magazine Hall of Fame on Nov. 11, 2002. She attended the gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Charitable giving

    Winfrey stands in front of hundreds of children in Durban, South Africa, on Dec. 8, 2002. Tens of thousands of children received gifts of food, clothing, athletic shoes, school supplies, books and toys as part of Winfrey's philanthropic trip for her charity, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation. (Benny Gool / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Cruise control

    Actor Tom Cruise appeared on Winfrey's show on Dec. 6, 2001, to talk about his film "Vanilla Sky" and his break-up with then-wife Nicole Kidman. Cruise returned to her show in 2005 to talk about his new love, actress Katie Holmes. Cruise gained cultural infamy for jumping on Winfrey's couch in an enthusiastic display of his love for Holmes. (George Burns / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. W to W

    Then-Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush gives a kiss to Winfrey after appearing on her show on Sept. 19, 2000. (Tannen Maury / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Magazine boss

    Winfrey is joined by Barbara Walters, left, and Diana Ross, right, at the launch party for her magazine on April 17, 2000, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York. (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Movie star

    Winfrey co-starred with Danny Glover in the movie "Beloved," director Jonathan Demme's adaption of Toni Morrison's novel. (Touchstone Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. What's the beef?

    Winfrey arrives at the federal courthouse in Amarillo, Texas, in January 1998. Cattlemen filed a lawsuit against her for saying on her talk show that the U.S. beef industry could be at risk of spreading mad cow disease. The trial forced Winfrey to move her show to Amarillo for several episodes. She won that trial, but the cattlemen filed another suit a few weeks later. A U.S. District judge ultimately dismissed the case in 2002. (Akhtar Hussein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Running for the cause

    Winfrey ran in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women 5K to raise money for women's cancer organizations in 2007. She has been open about battles with weight and her love-hate relationship with exercise. (Mirek Towski / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Furry escort

    Winfrey brought one of her furry friends with her to Ebony Magazine's "Celebrate the Dream: 50 Years of Ebony Magazine" event on Nov. 17, 1996. (Ron Wolfson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Golden girl, and her man

    Longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham has been by Winfrey's side at many awards shows, including the Daytime Emmy Awards. In 1987, her first year of eligibilty, she claimed three Emmys, including one for outstanding host and outstanding talk program. (Robin Platzer / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Hot topics

    In 1994, Winfrey consoled a distraught mourner during a segment of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" taped at Buffalo United Methodist Church, in Union, S.C., following the revelation that fellow townswoman Susan Smith drowned her sons, Alex and Michael, when she let her car roll into a local lake. The case drew nationwide interest. (Taro Yamasaki / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Weight issues

    On Nov. 16, 1988, Winfrey rolled out a toy wagon containing 68 pounds of fat on her show to illustrate how much weight she had lost. She credited her 68-pound weight loss to a liquid diet and exercise. Her goal was to fit into a size 10 pair of blue jeans for the first time. However, she quickly gained the weight back and has see-sawed ever since. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Famous friend

    Winfrey strikes a pose with famed composer and producer Quincy Jones. (Ron Galella / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Oscar nominee

    Winfrey co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg, second from right, and Rae Dawn Chong, right, in "The Color Purple" in 1985. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role as Sofia. She would later name her production company Harpo, another character in the film, which is also Oprah spelled backwards. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Early promise

    An 18-year-old Winfrey received the Miss WVOL award from the Nashville, Tenn., radio station in 1972. Winfrey rose quickly from local radio and TV reporter to become host of her own nationally syndicated talk show. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss: What did you think of Oprah's 'secret'?

Did you tune in specifically to find out?

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. @HillaryClinton/twitter

    Hillary Clinton: Granddaughter led me 'to speed up' political plans

    4/10/2015 3:58:42 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T15:58:42
  1. Courtesy Bryan Morseman

    Marathon dad's victories help raise money for son with spina bifida

    4/10/2015 5:54:50 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T17:54:50
  1. YouTube

    8 great celebrity impressions of other celebrities

    4/10/2015 6:44:22 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T18:44:22