'Oprah Winfrey Show' comes to an end

May 25, 2011 (CHICAGO)

"I won't say goodbye. I'll just say, until we meet again. To God be the glory," Winfrey said at the end of her show.

Winfrey called Wednesday's finale a love letter to her fans who have supported her for 25 years. No celebrity guests, no surprises, just Oprah saying a final thank you and then recapping some of her most powerful moments, as well as the lessons she says she's learned through the years.

At the end of the show, Winfrey kissed her longtime partner Stedman Graham and made her way through the halls of Harpo Studios, saying goodbye to her staff.

Fans gathered all over the country to watch the last "Oprah" show, including fans at a West Loop restaurant.

At Wishbone Restaurant, 1001 W. Washington, just a stone's throw away from Harpo, some dedicated fans watched the last Oprah show.

"So today, there will be no guests, there will be no makeovers, no surprises. Really, no surprises," Winfrey said.

"Well, praise Chicago. Oprah put Chicago on the map pretty much. And she has inspired a lot of people to change for the better," said fan Denise Delacuesta.

One fan came all the way here from New York City to watch the final Oprah show.

"I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to choose where you are when something as eventful as this happens. Chicago is where she's from. I think Chicago is where I should see the last show. I want to be here to get the energy, the spirit of what the show means, not just to me, but I think to the world," said Antoinette Phillips.

James Daupin lives in Chicago and went to Wishbone to watch the final "Oprah Winfrey Show." He said he's been watching Oprah for 25 years.

"It's amazing that, you know, she's just like family to everybody," he said. "We've all grown up with her. You know, we all went through so many trials and tribulations ourselves. We've learned lessons from her. I think have gotten my life put into better shape. We've been able to extend our own hands to other people."

"It's no coincidence that I grew up to feel genuine kindness, affection, trust and validation from millions of you all over the world. We did it! We did it!" Winfrey said, holding up her dog Sadie at the end of the show.

Fans of our Morning Show and 11 a.m. News Facebook pages have been weighing in on the Oprah finale. One writes, "It was quite moving, the end of an era." Another post said, "I like it, very touching." And another fan wrote, "I think it is a great speech."

Winfrey walked on stage for her talk show finale to a standing ovation from her studio audience. Winfrey encouraged them to be "more of yourself." In the show aired Wednesday, she told them that sometimes she was a teacher, but more often her viewers taught her.

It was a simply produced series finale filled with a sense of gratitude -- an entirely different feel to the star-studded double-episode farewell shows that aired Monday and Tuesday. Winfrey announced in November 2009 that she would end her popular talk show. She has since launched her own cable network, based in Los Angeles.

At a private brunch last week following her show taping at the United Center, Oprah gave a hint of what her final show would be like, saying the last show would be intimate.

On Tuesday outside Harpo Studios, people in the audience for the final show lined up after they found out a few days earlier by e-mail they were getting tickets. Many traveled from around the country to attend and say it was a moving experience.

"It was amazing. I have been watching her for as long as I can remember. It was really sad, so, but it was really awesome," said one fan.

"A lovely coral dress with a sash, and no guests, no surprises. It was really sweet," another fan said.

Last week, Oprah sat down with ABC7's Cheryl Burton to reflect on the past 25 years. The queen of talk says she has no regrets.

"I have to honestly say that I think I've done it as well as it could be done," Winfrey said.

She has come far since her show started locally in Chicago in 1984. Winfrey was born in the rural South, climbed up the ranks of local television news and now she is an icon worldwide.

The countdown is on to a new live, local show premiering on ABC7 Thursday. Join hosts Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner for "Windy City LIVE." Their first show is Thursday at 9 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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