This post is written as part of AOL Money & Finance's Best & Worst 2006. If you feel Oprah Winfrey makes too much money, cast your vote.
Multiple Emmy Award-winning host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated talk show in television history, Oprah Winfrey is also an Academy Award-nominated actress and a magazine publisher. Winfrey co-founded the women's cable television network, Oxygen, and is also the president of Harpo Productions.
Forbes recently estimated Winfrey's wealth at $1.5 billion, and has referred to her as the world's only black billionaire. She currently lives on a 42-acre ocean and mountain view estate in Montecito, California, and also has an apartment in Chicago, an estate on Fisher Island off the coast of Miami, a ski house in Telluride, Colorado, and property on Maui, Hawaii. Winfrey was called "arguably the world's most powerful woman" by CNN, and in 2003 she edged out both Superman and Elvis Presley to be named the greatest pop-culture icon of all time by VH1.
Winfrey's influence reaches beyond pop culture and into unrelated industries, where many believe she has the power to cause market swings and radical price changes with a single comment. Texas cattlemen sued her in early 1998 after she said that learning the facts about mad cow disease had put her off eating burgers; they claimed her remarks sent cattle prices tumbling, costing beef producers millions of dollars. And Oprah's Book Club, the segment of her show focused on new books and classics, has often brought obscure novels to popular attention, frequently making them best-sellers. This has been called the "Oprah Effect."
Winfrey's success has been blamed for popularizing the tabloid talk show genre and turning it into a thriving industry. Some even believe tabloid talk shows have redefined social norms, such as clearing the way for the success of sitcoms like Will & Grace, prime-time shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Oscar nominated feature films like Brokeback Mountain, which would have been nearly unthinkable in previous decades.