A tearful Oprah Winfrey on Friday announced that she will take her iconic talk show off the air in 2011 at the end of its 25th season.
"I love this show. This show has been my life and I love it enough to know when it's time to say goodbye," Winfrey told viewers at the end of her live broadcast.
"Twenty five years feels right in my bones and it feels right in my spirit. It's the perfect number, the exact right time."
"The Oprah Winfrey Show," which is currently syndicated in 145 countries, has transformed Winfrey, 55, into a cultural phenomenon.
She is credited with changing the way people talk to each other, having popularized a confessional interview style that has coaxed secrets, revelations and often tears from guests of all stripes.
She is known as an almost uniquely influential tastemaker, whose recommendation of a book or product has instantaneous and enormous effect.
Most powerful women
Born into a life of abuse and poverty in Mississippi, Winfrey is now estimated to be worth $2.7 billion and is regularly ranked among the world's most powerful women, celebrities and media personalities.
"I certainly never could have imagined the yellow brick road of blessing that have led me to this moment with you," Winfrey said Friday.
There was speculation that she had decided to focus on her television channel called OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network -- a joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery Communications set to replace the Discovery Health Channel in about 70 million U.S. homes.
While originally scheduled to air in 2010, getting the cable channel launched has proved "challenging" due to "management turnover and an uncertain advertising climate," the New York Times reported.
It is now scheduled to air in January 2011, but Winfrey, who will produce some shows and also make appearances, does not plan to bring her talk show, the Times reported.
Oprah did not tell viewers what she plans to do next but warned them that the speculation in the press "will mostly be conjecture."
"These moments with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond measure," Winfrey said.
"And until that day in 2011 when it ends I intend to soak up every meaningful joyful moment with you."
The Oprah Winfrey Show
First broadcast in 1985, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" show has served as the foundation for an empire that spans books, radio, magazines and the Internet and has launched the careers of other television celebrities, including popular U.S. counselor Dr. Phil and chef Rachel Ray.
Through her now-defunct televised book club she popularized works including Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."
Her stamp of approval was considered so important that she managed to convince the famously-reclusive author to appear on her show for his first ever television interview.
In 2008, she broke with a precedent of staying out of politics and endorsed fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama's presidential bid.
Her support was estimated by University of Maryland researchers to have brought in a million additional votes and helped Obama win both the Democratic nomination and the presidency.
She is also credited with breaking down barriers as both a woman and an African-American.
Winfrey began her own production company in 1985 and named it Harpo -- her name backwards -- and Forbes magazine declared her the first female African-American billionaire in 2003.
She has worked to overcome a painful history of child sexual abuse, supporting charities that help abused children and fighting for a national criminal database.