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Early Oprah

With the Oprah Winfrey Show ending today, here are some earlier clips of the media icon from before her epic television program took off.

Teenage Oprah got her start in media as a part-time news reporter on WVOL radio in Nashville, TN. While still at college, she became the first African-American TV correspondent and youngest news co-anchor on WTVF in Nashville. In 1976, she moved to Baltimore to become a news reporter and anchor at WJZ-TV.

Here are a couple of news promos with Oprah, including one for the morning show People Are Talking, which she co-hosted with Richard Sher.

In 1984, she moved to Chicago to host AM Chicago.

When programming director Dennis Swanson saw Oprah's audition for their talk show host position, he said, "This woman is awesome," adding "This person is just a natural television performer." And he didn't want her to change a thing--"the hairdo, the clothes, the weight...I wanted her just as she was."

Soon, she was beating Phil Donahue, and the program was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Among her high profile guests in those early episodes, she interviewed one of her favorite artists of all time, John Denver.

Hear more of her behind the scenes with this clip from 1986 at Oak Park-River Forest High School where she talks about being a black woman on television and hints at her future success and wealth.

Now established in her own national show and having already received an Oscar nomination for The Color Purple, she went on 60 Minutes in 1986 to talk to Mike Wallace about her career.

Also, this montage made by a superfan offers a fun selection of highlights from Oprah's signature show.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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