Popular talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is known for her intimate sit down chats, like her bombshell interview with Harry and Meghan.
But even long-time hosts like Oprah get it wrong sometimes, as Nathan Lane recently highlighted when he told NBC Sunday Today that late actor Robin Williams was ‘a saint’ after he ‘swooped in’ and saved him during a 1996 Oprah interview when he wasn’t ready to publicly come out as gay.
Lane, 67, publicly came out three years later in 1999, but during the press tour for his movie The Birdcage – in which he starred alongside Williams – he simply ‘wasn’t ready’ to tell the world when Oprah asked him if he was worried about being typecast because he played a drag queen in the movie.
‘I don’t think [Oprah] was trying to out me,’ Lane said. ‘But I said to Robin beforehand: ‘You know, I’m just not prepared. I’m so scared of going out there and talking to Oprah.
‘I’m not prepared to discuss that I’m gay on national television. I’m not ready.’
During the 1996 interview, Oprah asked a nervous-looking Lane: ‘Were you afraid of taking that role and being like type casting people for everything? Are you, are you not? Is he, honey? I don’t know’
Before Lane had a chance to answer, Williams swooped in and said: ‘Um girl, you changed just in the middle of that sentence…’
‘And he said: ‘It’s alright, don’t worry about it. We don’t have to talk about it, we won’t talk about it.’
MailOnline takes a look at other times Oprah Winfrey got it wrong during her career grilling some of the biggest showbiz stars.
In 2003, Dolly Parton sat down with Oprah for a heart-to-heart interview talking about plastic surgery, mental health and her newest album.
During the interview, Oprah asked her: ‘How are you defying age, Dolly? Whatcha doing?’
Dolly said: ‘Oh I don’t know, I’m a cartoon so I just look the same all the time!’
Instead of moving on, Oprah asked again while looking directly into the camera: ‘But you’ve been open about that you’ve had some work done. Some tucks and pulls and sucks?’
Dolly laughed the persistent questioning off and said: ‘Yes I have, and I’ll have some more when I need ’em! I have a funny thing I was telling the girls, all the girls that are singing on the tribute album, a lot of them are very young.
‘I was already into plastic surgery when they were still sleeping on plastic sheets!’
In 2010, Oprah interviewed NFL quarterback Drew Brees, and made the fauxpas within just a minute of appearing on the show.
After Oprah said ‘Wow, wow, wow, wow, wooooo!’ she tried to rup something off of Brees’ left cheek, which Oprah assumed was a smudge of lipstick as she asked: ‘Who just kissed you?’
This smudge of lipstick is actually Brees birthmark. He laughed the awkward moment off at the time, but revealed in an interview with CNN two years later that others made fun of him for his birthmark when he was a child.
In his book Coming Back Stronger, the former NFL star has since revealed that while he used to be ashamed of his birthmark, he wouldn’t get it removed now as it sets him apart from everyone else.
‘It’s just a part of who I am. I wouldn’t consider cutting off my arm. neither would I cut off my birthmark,’ he wrote.
In 2010, Oprah interviewed NFL quarterback Drew Brees, and made the fauxpas within just a minute of appearing on the show
Again in 2003, Barbara Streisand appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show wearing a white turtleneck and carrying her white dog Sammie around the studio.
After a musical performance during which Streisand used a white microphone, Oprah called her out for matching even the microphone to her outfit and dog by saying: ‘I want to just say this … I own this studio, I’ve been here I don’t know how many years. I’ve never seen a white mic.’
Streisand replied to Oprah: ‘It’s actually off-white, to match my off-white sweater. I like simplicity, and monochromatic frames.’
‘So you had the mic sprayed?,’ Oprah asked again in an encounter that Comedian Kathy Griffin said was eating at Oprah for weeks in her book Official Book Club Selection.
Barbara Streisand appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show wearing a white turtleneck and carrying her white dog Sammie around the studio
In 1998, Oprah interviewed Elizabeth Taylor in an interview the host herself referred to as ‘still painful to watch… for many reasons – including my bad hair’, according to Oprah.com.
One of the conditions for the interview was that Oprah couldn’t ask Taylor any questions about her relationships – but the talk show host asked anyway.
This caused Taylor to respond with ‘none of your business’ or ‘hyacinth death stare’, according to The New Yorker.
Oprah’s website also reveals: ‘Liz’s responses were so terse that Oprah couldn’t help but tease, “You’re so revealing — you just tell everything! I declare, you’ve got to stop talking so much, Ms. Taylor!”‘
Despite this misstep, Taylor appeared several times on Oprah’s talk shower after the awkward relationship inquiry.
In 1998, Oprah interviewed Elizabeth Taylor in an interview the host herself referred to as ‘still painful to watch… for many reasons – including my bad hair’
On Rob Lowe’s podcast Literally!, Oprah revealed that she also regretted asking Sally Field about her relationship with Burt Reynolds, who Field was dating for five years in the late 70s and early 80s.
Oprah asked her: ‘Does Burt sleep with his toupée on?’, a questions she said the viewers wanted her to ask.
In retrospect, she called it a big mistake and said Field ‘went cold on her’ after asking that question and ‘shut down’ for the rest of the interview.
On the podcast, Oprah said looking back she thinks asking the question wasn’t right and she can understand why Field went cold on her.
‘I deserved it, I deserved it, I desered it, because that is such an inappropriate question,’ Oprah said.
Oprah asked Sally Field: ‘Does Burt sleep with his toupée on?’, a questions she said the viewers wanted her to ask
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