Oprah Winfrey, one of the most popular and beloved talk show hosts in history, was recently confronted by her alleged secret son following a taping of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert early last month. According to a report from ET Online, when the show ended and she left New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater, she was approached by a man claiming to be her secret son.
In October, Winfrey’s alleged secret son, Calvin Mitchell, presented himself to the National Enquirer as the adopted son of the media mogul. Several media outlets picked up on the story, and it went viral. However, Winfrey vehemently denied that the 35-year-old was her secret son, but she admitted to having a close bond with the man in the past when he was young boy.
Winfrey says she and Mitchell met in the early 1990s when she was filming There Are No Children Here, an ABC-TV urban drama that describes the experiences of two brothers growing up in Chicago. Mitchell, who was only 11 at the time, was an extra on the show, which is how the two ended up meeting. Reportedly, one day, the boy slipped past set security, picked a cold beverage out of a cooler, and offered it to Winfrey. She was so touched that she offered the youngster a job as her so-called “personal bodyguard,” according to Daily Entertainment News.
Winfrey developed a close relationship with Mitchell and his family when she discovered they were poor and living in the projects. She paid for little Calvin to go to a private school — from which he was later expelled — and even moved his family to a better home. After his decision to miss classes, which is why he ended up getting expelled, Oprah decided to give Mitchell another chance and enrolled him at a private boarding school in Mississippi.
“I had a long conversation with him about how disappointed I was, but I was going to give him another chance,” Winfrey said. “I found a school in Mississippi that was a private boarding school because I thought if I could remove him from the environment that he’d been accustomed to growing up in, that maybe that would be helpful to him.”
Despite her efforts to help him, Calvin ended up leaving the boarding school because he felt that the teachers didn’t like him. This was the final straw for Oprah, and she and Stedman cut ties with the teen. Winfrey sat down with Entertainment Tonight and she shared her side of the story to Nancy O’Dell.
“I said, ‘Calvin, this is the moment. This is a seminal moment for you. I know you are 16 and can’t see the road ahead, but if you leave this school and refuse to get an education — I have tried to offer you an education twice — there isn’t another school I can put you in. If you leave this school, I am done. There is nothing else I can do.’… And that was my last conversation with Calvin in the early ’90s.”
Now, years later, Calvin recently made an effort to resume his relationship with the host, and she was surprised to see him. Oprah said she didn’t recognize him at first, but when she did, she tried to talk with him.
“As I left, and he was looking so forlorn, he was like, ‘Can I speak to you?’ So I said to somebody on my team, ‘Will somebody get Calvin’s number so I can contact him later?’ I didn’t realize the whole thing was a setup. And then when I found out the whole thing was a setup, I was no longer interested in speaking to him.”
Oprah said she was disappointed at the way Calvin used his story to become famous at her expense, and she asked him why he took the story to the tabloids. Oprah also acknowledged that although she wasn’t hurt by the incident, she views it as a learning experience.
[Image via Chance Yeh / Getty Images Entertainment]