UNITED STATES—Like diamonds, special people are made more endearing by a flaw. Oprah Winfrey would be well nigh insufferable if it weren’t for her erratic and faddish dieting which humanizes her and endears her to legions of fans who find in her a source of comfort and motivation.

Oprah hobnobs with presidents, is the only African-American billionaire (according to Wikipedia), and is a philanthropist on a massive scale. Angelina Jolie adopts children; Oprah adopts continents. When she took a break from her burgeoning media empire to act in Spielberg’s “The Color People,” her acting garnered an Academy Award nomination. The Oscar nod just seems one of the many perks of being Oprah.

It’s her dieting travails that bring her to the realm of mere mortals.

Etched in the annals of broadcasting is the ‘fat wagon’ episode, the all-time highest rated Oprah episode. After adding almost 70 pounds to her 5 feet 6 inch frame, she went on a liquid protein diet. (Pretty much anathema to those who prefer to equate food and pleasure: there’s no texture, Pepto Bismol is more flavorful, and chances to commune with people over a cup of chemical goop are dicey at best, but you’ve got to hand it to Oprah for having discipline).

After four months of this nutritional and sensory deprivation, Oprah slimmed down so much she appeared on her talk show in size 10 Calvin Klein jeans. There were oohs and aahs! When she tugged out onstage a toy wagon loaded with 67 pounds of fat, the equivalent of what she had lost, the oohs and aahs turned into gasps.

“I had literally starved myself for four months—not a morsel of food,” Oprah later confessed. “Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate. Of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!”

And within two years she regained most of the 67 pounds and declared, “I will never diet again.” She had learned the lesson of putative, liquid-protein diets.

Over the years of visiting our homes, Oprah has made no bones about being an “emotional eater.” She eats to celebrate, and she eats to smother her sorrows.

After her 1998 film “Beloved,” based on the Toni Morrison Civil-War era novel about a mother and daughter who escape slavery, tanked at the box office and bled $30 million of Oprah’s personal fortune, she went into a “massive, depressive macaroni and cheese-eating tailspin.” “Beloved” was a passion project, and Oprah, who was naïve about the movie business, got blindsided by a lackluster opening weekend.

“I didn’t know that you had that weekend and that is it. So I am thinking that if people don’t go this weekend, that people will go see it next weekend,” Oprah told CNN after the debacle. “It premiered on a Friday and I remember hearing on Saturday morning that we got beat by something called Chucky. I didn’t even know what Chucky was.”

Reeling from this flop and the loss of 30 million clamshells, Oprah asked her chef to make some macaroni and cheese. She actually consumed about a fifth of her body weight.

“I ate about 30 pounds worth,” she later revealed. “I’m not kidding! It’s the only time in my life—and I use all experiences in life to teach me—I was ever depressed. I recognized I was depressed because I’ve done enough shows [to know], ‘Oh, this is what those people must feel like.’ If I don’t come out of this I’m gonna have to get some help, then I thought, well, who am I going to go to?”

Who indeed? Oprah, the helpsource for millions, must have felt a loss to turn to Oprah, but determined to overcome this box office Waterloo, Oprah turned to prayer and gave herself a limited amount of time to mope. In retrospect, she walked away with a big lesson about embracing failure.

“I think the way life is set up for most people who have the opportunity to succeed, is that if you get the lesson, you don’t have to repeat that again,” she says.

These days Oprah catches the weight gains more quickly (after 10 or 20 pounds), she has treadmill workouts, and eats a mouth-watering mix of fruits, veggies, fish, chicken and lean meat.

Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: the Grady Diet” and the humor collection, “Late Bloomer,” available on Amazon.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)