CHICAGO (AP) - Oprah Winfrey ended her famous talk show Wednesday by telling her viewers of 25 years that they weren’t saying goodbye.
“I won’t say goodbye, I’ll just say until we meet again,” Winfrey said.
She hugged and kissed her longtime partner Stedman Graham and shook hands with audience members before walking through the halls of Harpo Studios in Chicago, hugging and crying with her staff.
Earlier Winfrey walked on stage to a standing ovation from her studio audience. She thanked the viewers for watching for a quarter of a century.
“Twenty-five years and I’m still saying, `Thank you America,’” Winfrey said. “Thank you so much. There are no words to match this moment.”
Winfrey told viewers that sometimes she was a teacher, but more often her viewers instructed her. She called Wednesday’s episode her “last class.”
The final “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which was taped in Chicago on Tuesday, opened with a clip from her first show.
Winfrey was the only person on stage with little background music and very short flashback clips.
“When she came out, her appearance, the way she stepped on stage and the message she brought (was) about finding yourself, your purpose,” said audience member Wanda Nash, 47, of Chicago, an executive assistant and foster parent. “It was all about Oprah.”
Some fans across the country planned parties for the finale. Sharon Evans, 53, of Chicago had pancakes with her mother and girlfriends.
“She was very subdued today and I appreciated that she was taking that last hour not to showcase any celebrities or favorite things,” Evans said. “It was truly what she said, a love letter to us.”
Winfrey announced in November 2009 that she would end her popular talk show after 25 years.
Tuesday’s taping came a week after Hollywood A-listers and 13,000 fans bid Winfrey farewell in a double-episode extravaganza at Chicago’s United Center. The shows that aired Monday and Tuesday included Aretha Franklin, Tom Cruise, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jordan and Madonna, among other stars of television, music and movies. They were just a few of the approximately 30,000 guests who have appeared on the show over 25 years.
The bare-bones final taping nevertheless had its share of celebrities in the audience including Tyler Perry, Maria Shriver, Suze Orman and Cicely Tyson. None of them joined Winfrey on stage.