Few names are as iconic as Oprah's, and her rags-to-riches story is one of the most profound in American history. Born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother, she experienced considerable hardship during her childhood. She was raped at age 9 and became pregnant at 14, but her son died in infancy.
Somehow, though, she carried on. At age 19 she landed a job at a radio station, and never looked back. Today she is North America's only black female billionaire, and certainly one of the most influential women in the world.