How Oprah Helped Gayle King Move On From Her Messy Divorce

It's safe to say that Oprah Winfrey is one of the most beloved television icons of all time. In a world where talk show hosts often engage with their guests to generate headlines, Winfrey took the time to emotionally connect with them to create something truly magical. It's impossible not to admire the work ethic that got her out of a poverty-stricken existence and into a rather lavish lifestyle. As someone who has experienced countless struggles in her life, Winfrey has also sought to help people in similar situations with her charitable endeavors. 

Unsurprisingly, her warmth and kindness have extended to the people she's closest to in her personal life too. Despite being one of the most prominent names in the industry, she's kept her friend circle small. In a podcast interview for "Space with Hoda Kotb," (via Today), the living legend revealed that she only has three close friends; Gayle King, Maria Shriver, and Bob Greene. In fact, Winfrey has managed to maintain her friendships with Shriver and King for decades.

Naturally, because she values them so much, Winfrey most definitely showers her friends with a lot of love. Speaking to People, Shriver described her as: "Deep, simple, low-maintenance, trustful, loyal, constant, consistent, honest, tried and true." She even talked about how Winfrey would express her love through small acts of kindness like treating her to countless cups of coffee. King, meanwhile, chose to confide in Winfrey when she was struggling with a messy divorce.

Winfrey knew King's marriage wasn't built to last

Oprah Winfrey recalled the day Gayle King got married when the pair were interviewed for Winfrey, who acted as maid of honor, admitted, "Actually, I was a little sad. ... Mostly because I just didn't think it was going to work out." She felt the vibes were off, noting, "There are some weddings you go to, and you're just filled with all this hope for the couple. And you feel that there's something special going on. I didn't feel that at yours."

However, Winfrey didn't express her doubts to King at the time, fearing that her feelings were a result of natural jealousy about how their friendship would change once King was married. Even King felt highly uncertain about her future on the day but chalked it up to cold feet. However, the ill feelings were entirely warranted because, nearly 10 years into their marriage, King caught her husband, William Bumpus, in bed with another woman.

Like anybody in this situation, King sought support from the two people she trusted most: Her mom and Winfrey. In an interview with People, King said, "Oprah — who has never been married and never had children — she is one of the best therapists ever." She added, "If she had a second career, It would be [a therapist]. When I first caught [my ex] I didn't tell anyone but Oprah and my mother. I knew I could trust them." 

The longtime BFFs knew each other pre-fame

Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King's paths first crossed in 1976 when they were both working at Baltimore's WJZ station. Considering King's future as a broadcaster, it's weird to think that Winfrey was the one working as a news anchor while King was a production assistant. Despite their drastically different upbringings, the two found common ground in being two single, ambitious Black women who felt a lack of connection with their peers. Their friendship blossomed after King spent the night at Winfrey's house during a snowstorm.

During a chat with The Cut, Winfrey reminisced about their strong foundation: "We were two Black girls who loved being Black, who loved the experience of growing up Black girls in America, and we felt our value system was very much the same — our dreams were the same." This foundation has helped them sustain their friendship through the years, reportedly with zero major arguments. 

In the '80s, their friendship thrived as King made her debut on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." But, while their professional lives intertwined, their personal lives changed. Winfrey met author Stedman Graham in 1986, and the two are still together to this day, jointly agreeing to forego marriage. While King married her now ex-husband, William Bumpus in 1982, the most important relationship in her life continues to thrive.