“She is … the mother I never had. She is … the sister everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves. I don’t know a better person. I don’t know a better person,” a tearful Winfrey told Barbara Walters.
“It’s making me cry because I’m thinking about … how much … I probably have never told her that. Tissue please. I now need tissue. I’ve never told her that,” she continued.
The two women met 30 years ago while working at a local Baltimore TV station in the 1980s and since then have been inseparable, sparking rumors that they are gay.
“I’m not a lesbian … I’m not even kind of a lesbian,” Winfrey said. “And the reason why it irritates me is because it means that somebody must think I’m lying. That’s number one. Number two … why would you want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life.”
In the interview, Winfrey also addressed her long-term relationship with businessman Stedman Graham.
“The love … the lover … the man … the partner … the mate,” she said of Graham. “I do not know of another man on this planet … who could have lived this life with such dignity, with such grace and such respect and humility in it. And still hold his own and be his own.”
Oprah and Stedman Graham have been dating since 1986 and were engaged in 1992, but they still have no plans to tie the knot.
As far as her new cable network, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, launching next year, is concerned, the talk show host admits to being afraid of the challenge.
“I was very scared,” she says. “I would wake up in the middle of the night literally like clutching my chest, like, ‘What have I done? What have I done?'”
The interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters marks the end of Winfrey’s talk show which will finish next September after 25 years of success.
Watch the interview on “A Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, The Next Chapter,” Thursday at 9 p.m. ET