When I was live blogging Oprah‘s third-to-last and second-to-last show from Chicago’s United Center (read it here), the followers and I kept joking about Oprah breaking down into her infamous “ugly cry,” where her face scrunches up as she tries to speak through the tears.
What, exactly, is the ugly cry?
She coined the term after a 1997 show in which her idol, Mary Tyler Moore, showed up unbeknownst to her during a taping of her show. And before her United Center shows, that was the last time she allowed her staff to surprise her on air.
“I was surprised and went into the ugly snot cry,” Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight ahead of her season 25 premiere. “And I had a rule that I’m not supposed to be surprised again.”
Watch the surprise, below.
“I remember seeing Mary and then just trying to control myself,” Oprah says in the video. “How could this happen, and I not know about it? The flood of everything she means to me… I am now thinking of every Saturday night I watched her with the conditioner in my hair, every time I tried to mock her with the vest with little tie, I’m thinking of wanting the ‘O’ above my refrigerator because she had the ‘M,’ thinking of wanting to move to Minneapolis because I thought she really lived there. What she meant to me… and now there she is. It was crazy!”
The best part of the clip is the off-camera segment that aired during the commercial break, where a shocked Oprah asks her staff for Kleenex and admits, “I don’t think I used deodorant this morning. Sweat is running from my armpits!”
“It was one of the happiest and most delirious out of body moments I’ve ever had,” says Oprah of meeting Moore.