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May 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In a gathering of celebrities unmatched by anything outside of the Oscars or the Emmys telecasts, Oprah Winfrey was feted Tuesday at a taping of “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular,” taped at Chicago’s United Center with an estimated 15,000-20,000 fans in attendance. Aretha Franklin, who has spent most of the past year battling life-threatening illness, was on hand to sing “Amazing Grace.” Tom Hanks acted as host of the affair, bringing on such A-list celebrities as Michael Jordan, Madonna, Maya Angelou, Alicia Keys, Jerry Seinfeld, Kristen Chenoweth, John Legend, Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Halle Berry, Beyonce, John Travolta, Will Smith, Maria Shriver, Stevie Wonder, Simon Cowell, Rosie O’Donnell, and Jamie Foxx. Also on hand, Winfrey’s rarely seen longtime partner, Stedman Graham who remarked, “It really does amaze me that I get to be around a woman who changes people’s lives every day and also takes her own lunch to work.” Said Winfrey: “I’ve never experienced anything like this, and I say once again thank you for taking me to a place that’s beyond joyous.”