Oprah Winfrey & Gayle King’s Friendship: All About Their Almost 50-Year Relationship

The talk show host and journalist have been friends since the 70s. Find out more about Oprah and Gayle's longstanding friendship.

Reading Time: 5 minutes
oprah winfrey, gayle king
Image Credit: Andrew Gombert/EPA/Shutterstock

  • Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King have been two of the biggest names in TV for decades, but they’re also close friends!
  • Oprah and Gayle met as young journalists in the 70s.
  • The two women remain close to this day.

Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King have been the definition of friendship goals for decades! The two women have continued to hype each other up and praise one another’s accomplishments from their early days in TV to today! While it’s clear they admire one another’s work, the two women’s friendship is clearly what they value the most about each other. Many people have drawn inspiration from their friendship over the years. “I always get, ‘This is my Oprah!’ I just think that’s one of the biggest compliments,” Gayle said in a 2022 interview with People.

While their friendship has been evident to longtime fans for generations, the two women’s connection actually dates back before either was a success. Oprah, 69, and Gayle, 68, have had countless times that they’ve shown how close they are through the years. Find out more about their relationship here!

Oprah and Gayle Meet at WJZ

While both Oprah and Gayle are huge names in the worlds of TV and journalism now, the two ladies met long before either had the huge success they have now. The two first crossed paths when Oprah was the anchor for WJZ-TV in Baltimore, and Gayle was a writer and production assistant. When a snowstorm was coming to town in 1976, Oprah invited her co-worker to spend the night at her place. “We ended up talking all night long,” she told People in 2022. “We’ve literally been friends ever since.”

Oprah and Gayle smile at an event in the early aughts. (Walter McBride/Shutterstock)

Gayle explained exactly how they connected in an August 2006 interview with O Magazine“We became friends that first night because for the first time, I met somebody who I felt was like me,” she said. “I’d never met anybody like that. Certainly not another Black girl. I grew up in an all-white community.”

Gayle’s First Time on Oprah’s Show

In 1984, Oprah began hosting A.M. Chicago, which later became The Oprah Winfrey Show. While it started out regional, it grew into a national hit by 1986. In the first season under the new name, Oprah invited her best friend out to chat about something very fitting: celebrity best friends, per Oprah Daily. 

Gayle’s Many Appearances on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’

Oprah had the hit show for 25 years, and Gayle was her most frequent guest on the program. The journalist appeared in 141 episodes, many more than the celebrity with the second most appearances: Celine Dion (who had 28 appearances). Over the years, the two had plenty of fun on the air, whether they were recounting bad dating stories, taking vacations together, or Gayle was surprising Oprah for her birthday.

The two clearly had great chemistry, and it shows in their segments. Whether Gayle is making her friend emotional in a heartfelt moment or the two of them are simply joking and laughing along. Even in moments that are being filmed for TV, both women cut loose and are their true-authentic selves around one another. The two took part in many “Big Adventures” over the years, and fans loved seeing the BFFs interact in the special episodes.

‘The Gayle King Show’ on Oprah’s Network

Over the years, Gayle has hosted her own show on Oprah’s TV channel and SiriusXM radio channel. Similar to her pal, her show was called The Gayle King Show. After The Oprah Winfrey Show came to an end in 2011, Gayle briefly hosted her show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The show ended in late 2011, after Gayle signed a deal to host CBS This Morning. 

Oprah and Gayle smile together in 2010. (Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock)


Oprah and Gayle Support Each Other’s Work Over The Years

While it’s been over a decade since The Oprah Winfrey Show came to an end, both of them have remained in the public eye and their friendship seems just as strong. Both women have joined one another for major career milestones. Gayle attended the 2018 Golden Globes when Oprah was awarded with the Cecile B. DeMille Award, and Oprah attended her pal’s induction into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

The following year, Oprah kept hyping up her best friend when Gayle was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” The talk show host tweeted the photo of the magazine cover while shouting out her BFF. “So proud of you,” she wrote.

They Support Each Other Through Hard Times

Through the years, Oprah and Gayle have stood by each other in good times and bad. When Gayle received backlash for asking questions about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case following his death in 2020, Oprah stood by her side and spoke out in support of her friend, as she received death threats. Gayle later opened up about the experience on Oprah’s 2020 Vision tour. “I put on my game face and my big girl pants, because I never lost sight of who I was, what I believe I am, and my intention. I’ve never lost sight of that. But it certainly was a learning curve, and it was very painful,” she said.

Of course, the support goes both ways. When Cindy Crawford called out Oprah, saying she felt “like the chattel” on the show, Gayle spoke in support of her friend. “I know Cindy’s been on her show many, many, many times and it has always been a pleasant experience, [so] I would hate to think that something that happened years ago [could have bothered her],” she told ET in September 2023. “It’s not Oprah’s thing to humiliate or make anybody feel badly.”

Oprah and Gayle Remain Close Family Friends

Over the years, Gayle and Oprah have made it clear that they’re even closer than friends. They’re more like family.  “She became my mother, my sister, my friend. She became all the things that I had never had,” Oprah told People in 2022. “Gayle served as my chosen family, and the person who stood in the gap for me.”

Both women remain close to one another’s families. When Gayle became a grandmother, she revealed that Oprah threw an extravagant party for her grandson Luca to welcome him to her home during a January 2022 interview on The Late Show. Oprah sweetly greeted her best friend’s grandson. “I got choked up when I first saw it,” she said. “Over the top, but I thought it was sweet.”