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Photos: Oprah's farewell spectacular

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  1. A lovely tribute

    Halle Berry, left, Katie Holmes, center, and Queen Latifah attend Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular at the United Center in Chicago on Tuesday, May 17. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is ending its run May 25, after 25 years, and millions of her fans around the globe are waiting to see how she will close out a show that spawned a media empire. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Shine a light

    Fans hold up lights as Rascal Flatts perform during a star-studded double-taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular" on Tuesday, May 17 in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A ha-ha moment

    Oprah Winfrey laughs with poet Maya Angelou during the taping of "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular" in Chicago on Tuesday, May 17. Winfrey kicked off one of her last-ever national talk shows on Tuesday with hugs from Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Madonna in a packed United Center. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Amazing Aretha

    Aretha Franklin performs "Amazing Grace" for Oprah Winfrey during the Tuesday, May 17 taping. She was introduced by Winfrey's longtime partner, Stedman Graham. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. She likes Mike

    Michael Jordan, who lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s, was also among the stars who feted the talk host. He told Winfrey that she inspires him. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. At her side

    Stedman Graham, Winfrey's longtime partner, told her that he loved her and was proud of her during the taping on Tuesday, May 17. "It really does amaze me that I get to be around a woman who changes people's lives every day and who also takes her own lunch to work," Graham told the crowd at the United Center. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Giving thanks

    About 300 Morehouse College scholarship students walked along the United Center aisles as Kristen Chenoweth sang "For Good" from the musical "Wicked" during the Tuesday, May 17 taping. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Oprah and her friends

    Gayle King, left, and Maria Shriver, right, were at Winfrey's side during the taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular." Shriver appeared on the same day it was revealed her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, fathered a child with a woman on his household staff more than a decade ago. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Lady Madonna

    Pop superstar Madonna said she is among the millions of people who are inspired by Winfrey. "She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular," she said. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Serenading Oprah

    "America's Got Talent" phenom Jackie Evancho, left, Patti LaBelle, center, and Josh Groban perform "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for Winfrey. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Oprah's babies

    Actress Dakota Fanning, surrounded by children, told Winfrey "we call ourselves Oprah show babies. Your voice has been the soundtrack of our lives." (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A song just for Oprah

    Stevie Wonder serenaded Winfrey with an original song, singing to her, "Oprah thank you for using your gifts to uplift so many hearts." He also performed "Isn't She Lovely" with Jamie Foxx. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Power couple

    Jamie Foxx pays tribute to Winfrey during "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular" at the United Center in Chicago on Tuesday, May 17. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Playing it straight from the heart

    Comedian Jerry Seinfeld was among the many stars who paid tribute to Winfrey. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A Rosie tribute

    Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell sings during the taping of "Surprise Oprah!" on Tuesday, May 17. O'Donnell has a new show set to debut on Winfrey's OWN network this fall. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Saluting the 'goddess'

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith also joined Winfrey on the stage. The couple started off the taping of the second show, which will air on Tuesday, May 24. Pinkett Smith, right, thanked Winfrey and told her she mothered millions and "that puts you in the status of a goddess." (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. No couch this time

    Tom Cruise, famous for his couch jumping on Winfrey's show, was among the stars at "Surprise Oprah!" on Tuesday, May 17. "You always had the power, and that is the message you brought into our lives," Cruise told Winfrey. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Girl power

    Beyonce sings "Run the World (Girls)," backed by dozens of dancers, during "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular." (Peter Wynn Thompson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Just a few of her friends

    Oprah Winfrey is kissed by singer Usher, third from left, next to actor Will Smith, center, former NBA star Michael Jordan, third from right, actor Tom Cruise, second from right, talk host Rosie O'Donnell, right, and Simon Cowell, left, during the taping of "Surprise Oprah!" on Tuesday, May 17. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Farewell

    Oprah Winfrey wiped away tears as celebrity after celebrity surprised her during a farewell double-episode taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that will precede her finale. "Thank you is not enough, but thank you," Winfrey told the crowd of 13,000 gathered at Chicago's United Center on Tuesday, May 17 for "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular." "For your love and your support, thank you." (Peter Wynn Thompson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular
    Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (20) Oprah's farewell spectacular
  2. Image:
    Anne Marie Fox / AP
    Slideshow (34) It's Oprah's world
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updated 5/18/2011 8:48:47 AM ET 2011-05-18T12:48:47

Oprah Winfrey wiped away tears as celebrity after celebrity surprised her during a farewell double-episode taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that will precede her finale.

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"Thank you is not enough, but thank you," Winfrey told the crowd of 13,000 gathered at Chicago's United Center on Tuesday night for "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular." "For your love and your support, thank you."

The crowd gave Winfrey a standing ovation when she first walked on the stage. Then the stars came out, with Winfrey's producers making good on their promise of the biggest celebrities of movies, music and television.

Story: Inside Oprah's farewell show: Live from Chicago

Aretha Franklin sang "Amazing Grace." Tom Hanks acted as host for the evening. Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships during the 1990s, told Winfrey she inspires him. Tom Cruise, famous for his couch jumping on Winfrey's show, was there. Jerry Seinfeld wore a tuxedo to give a comedy routine. And Madonna said she is among the millions of people who are inspired by Winfrey.

"She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular," Madonna said.

Winfrey announced in November 2009 that she would end her popular talk show after 25 years. Tuesday's taping will air May 23 and 24, before Winfrey's final show on May 25.

"You always had the power, and that is the message you brought into our lives," Cruise told Winfrey.

Story: Shriver takes dig at Arnold at Oprah taping

The show highlighted Winfrey's charity efforts over the years. About 300 Morehouse College scholarship students walked along the United Center aisles as Kristen Chenoweth sang "For Good" from the musical "Wicked." Grammy winner John Legend was beamed in from a New Orleans school and Winfrey's book club was lauded for getting millions to read.

Josh Groban and Patti LaBelle sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as Winfrey sat in a white chair onstage. Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder sang "Isn't She Lovely" to Winfrey. Wonder followed with his own song, singing to her, "Oprah thank you for using your gifts to uplift so many hearts." Simon Cowell made an appearance; Rosie O'Donnell sang a Broadway-style song.

Winfrey's longtime partner, Stedman Graham, introduced Franklin after telling Winfrey he loved her and was proud of her.

"It really does amaze me that I get to be around a woman who changes people's lives every day and who also takes her own lunch to work," Graham told the crowd. "You know what really is amazing? You have done this, sweetheart, through all of the sacrifices you've made, humility you have and through God's amazing grace."

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That's when Franklin took the stage in a one-shouldered white gown to sing "Amazing Grace." She later joined Usher for the show's finale song, "Oh Happy Day," as sparkly confetti filled the arena.

Maria Shriver, the TV journalist and Kennedy heiress, appeared on the same day it was revealed her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, fathered a child with a woman on his household staff more than a decade ago. Shriver did not mention her husband during the taping.

"You have given me love, support, wisdom and most of all the truth," Shriver told Winfrey. "And I know I'm not alone in receiving those gifts from you."

Slideshow: Oprah's farewell spectacular (on this page)

The taping of the second show began with Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who thanked Winfrey and told her she mothered millions and "that puts you in the status of a goddess."

Actresses Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and Dakota Fanning all appeared, along with newswoman Diane Sawyer.

Beyonce sang her song "Run the World (Girls)" backed by dozens of dancers. Rascal Flatts performed too.

Powerwall: Oprah's most power-packed moments

"Oprah Winfrey, because of you women everywhere have graduated to a new level of understanding of who we are, of what we are and most of all who we can be," Beyonce said.

The stadium was decorated with pictures of Winfrey at seminal moments over the course of her talk show. Boxes of tissues were on scattered seats throughout the audience.

Harpo Productions received more than 154,000 ticket requests for seats to Tuesday's event. Tickets were free and distributed to fans through a lottery.

Winfrey also received messages from some less-famous admirers. Female American soldiers gave a taped message from Iraq and three female fans from countries around the world came on stage. The show was interspersed with clips of Winfrey's fans and flashbacks of previous episodes.

Fans started lining up outside hours before the taping started.

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Bessie Carroll, 70, of Chicago came to the show with her daughter.

"I think we've gotten everything we could have and more than we should have from her," Carroll said. "If she feels it's time to go, we have to release her and let her enjoy her life."

Mashonda White, 41, an engineer from Aurora, called Winfrey an inspiration.

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"She's a blueprint of what I would like to become," White said. "She never takes anything negatively. She always makes it positive."

Celebrities such as Lisa Ling, Carson Kressley, Jessica Seinfeld, Ally Wentworth, Bob Greene and former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley sat in the audience.

The content of the final episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is still under wraps.

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

Video: Cruise, Hanks drop by Oprah's last shows

  1. Closed captioning of: Cruise, Hanks drop by Oprah's last shows

    >>> oh, yes, i need that. it's time.

    >> time for "news you can't use." next week, oprah's last week.

    >> amazing, isn't it?

    >> 25 years, her last week, taping some episodes that will run next week. we have a few clips out to us from harpo. filling up the united center in chicago, where the bulls and blackhawks pay. packed house, invited guests, her biggest fans were there, taping a couple shows yesterday and her biggest celebrity fans. tom cruise , jade pinkette smith. and her friend, tom hanks . tom hanks .

    >> tom hanks . you know, tom, he was in "castaway."

    >> he was on " morning joe ."

    >> he was on " morning joe ." the one with the box of chocolates. " band of brothers ." very well-known american actor .

    >> you're oprah winfrey !

    >> you're tom hanks !

    >> take all this in for a moment.

    >> oprah winfrey , today, you are surrounded by nothing but love.

    >> see what i'm talking about? the guy from the movies.

    >> yeah, i've seen him before.

    >> the one with the mermaid, daryl hannah .

    >> tom hanks was there.

    >> also, last night, jon stewart , back with bill o 'reilly.

    >> you think t.j. has his clip cued?

    >> this one i have.

    >> bill o 'reilly of the fox news channel .

    >> do a little ad-libbing.

    >> comedy central and talking about the 2012 republican field.

    >> presidential politics, republican side , any republican possible candidate that you like, that you respect? do we have music we can put under stewart? tah-dah tah-dah.

    >> that i like? like them personally or --

    >> that you would like to be a good president.

    >> ticktock ticktock ticktock.

    >> anybody you want to run? sarah palin , she was a governor.

    >> i'm sorry, i think my earpiece went out.

    >> sarah palin governor of alaska , left office with high approval rating? i'm sure she did and then they got to know her. if you were to open a box labeled president and pull something out, it would look like mitt romney .

    >> newt gingrich . hello?

    >> listen, he has -- definitely, his head is large enough you imagine there are great ideas in there, but it's so big, it's almost like they're free range ideas and i don't know if he can actually herd them.

    >> michele bachmann .

    >> michelle my-bell bachmann. i can tell you like her. just by your face, you don't want to admit it, though. you like her.

    >> respect grows in leaps and bounds. you're like the grinch right after he realized they don't need presents for christmas when you see me. you love me because you know we come from the same -- we're the same people. you want this date to go on forever.

    >> um --

    >> there you go.

    >> those candidates, they were setups. o'reilly's teeing them up.

    >> he said he thinks tim pawlenty seems like a nice man.

    >> he does. tim pawlenty .

    >> i think the party's over.

    >> up next, doctor, governor, chairman, whatever you want to call him and the moderator, "meet the press."

    >> he's so aggressive.

    >> seriously, what's wrong with him.

    >> newt said he was too mean.