Oprah Basks in Star-Studded Farewell
Thousands pay their respects for Winfrey's legacy
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2011 10:02 AM CDT
Aretha Franklin hugs Oprah Winfrey during a star-studded double-taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Chicago.   (Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(Newser) – Oprah Winfrey wiped away tears yesterday as celebrity after celebrity surprised her during a farewell double-episode taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show that will precede her finale. "Thank you is not enough, but thank you," Winfrey told the crowd of 13,000 gathered at Chicago's United Center for "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular." Aretha Franklin sang "Amazing Grace," while Tom Hanks acted as host, and even couch-jumping Tom Cruise put in an appearance. Maria Shriver appeared—on the same day it was revealed husband Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a love child more than a decade ago. Click to read how Shriver may have taken a subtle jab at Arnold.

The stadium was decorated with pictures of Winfrey at seminal moments over the course of her talk show. Boxes of tissues dotted seats throughout the audience. Harpo Productions received more than 154,000 ticket requests; it distributed them through a lottery. Yesterday's taping will air May 23 and 24, before Winfrey's final show on May 25. The content of the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show is still under wraps. Click through the gallery to catch celebs from Beyonce to Jerry Seinfeld.

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