CHICAGO (AP, ABC7) - Celebrity after celebrity bid Oprah Winfrey farewell in Chicago, surprising her during a double-episode taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that will precede her finale.
Winfrey received a standing ovation from the crowd at the United Center. She thanked the 13,000 fans who came to watch the taping for their support.
Aretha Franklin sang "Amazing Grace." Tom Hanks was host for the evening. Michael Jordan told Winfrey she inspires him. Tom Cruise, famous for his couch jumping on Winfrey's show, was there. Jerry Seinfeld gave a comedy routine.
Kentanya Williams was one of 13,000 fans who came to the United Center for the show. “I was so excited, I couldn't sleep,” Williams said.
Among the celebrity guests was Jada Pinkett Smith, who expressed gratitude. “Oprah, I want to thank you for the 25 years you've given us of you,” Pinkett Smith said. “We have traveled many roads with you, you have enlightened us, you have empowered us.”
Madonna said she is among the millions who are inspired by Winfrey. “The great thing about Oprah is, even if you don't know her personally, you feel like you know her personally, and that's a talent that she has she's very accessible,” said Madonna.
Harpo Productions said it received more than 154,000 ticket requests. The concernt will air as two of Oprah's shows early next week, before the final show on Wednesday.
Winfrey announced in November 2009 that she would end her show after 25 years. Tuesday's taping will air May 23 and 24, before Winfrey's final show on May 25.