Talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael's iconic, over-sized red glasses were purchased out of necessity. She says that when she went to the optometrist, they only had red glasses, so that's just what she bought. Sally exudes confidence. "I knew from the day I was born what I wanted to do," she says. "I wanted to communicate, and I wanted to make a difference in the world."
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Sally says she grew up in a privileged family with very supportive parents; however, when her father became ill, her family fell on hard times. She says they slept in a car and learned to survive on what they had, but Sally pursued her dreams and went on to study theatre in college. She turned to radio and television when acting didn't work out. In her early career, she worked at 28 different TV and radio stations, often facing discrimination as a woman.
After a guest appearance on "The Phil Donahue Show," Sally finally got her big break in 1981 when she started her talk show in Saint Louis, Missouri. "The Sally Jessy Raphael Show" grew into a nationally syndicated program. It was on the air for 24 years.
Sally says women will talk to her, in the ladies' room and in a different languages, and tell her a piece of their life story. "I try not to be judgmental," says Sally. "I try not to be mean." On her show, she's had guests freeze on her, but she explains that she's never had a guest leave the show and not like her. Sally just couldn't be mean.
Today, Sally has retired from her daily talk show, but she stays active on Twitter (@SJRaphael) and Facebook. "I'm told that I'm spicy," she laughs, "whatever that means!" Sally says people knew her as someone who was "formal and supposedly very professional," but now her fans can see a funny, opinionated side of Sally.
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"One of the most wonderful things is to have people come to you and say, 'I used to watch you when I was a child, and I learned a great deal,' or, 'you made my day,'" Sally explains, fulfilling one of her main wishes - to make a difference.
Sally says to dream big. "Dreams are free," she advises, "and you might as well go for it all!"