Oprah’s Aunt on Kitty Kelley: “I found out she wrote ugly things. She didn’t get anything ugly from me.”
Oprah Winfrey’s cousin, Katherine Esters, who is known as “Aunt Katherine,” disputes some of the claims made by trash biographer Kitty Kelley in her new book about the talk show host. She does feel manipulated by the tabloid sensationalist.
Mrs. Esters is 82, still lives in the Mississippi town where Oprah was born, but hasn’t seen or heard from her cousin in a while. She told me this morning that she’s considered the town historian in Kosciusko, and that when people want to know something genealogical they come to her.
That’s what Kelley did, says Mrs. Esters, who has short term memory problems, is on dialysis and has a respiratory condition. She told me that when Kelley arrived at her home, she had no idea what kind of books she wrote or who she was. “I asked her if Oprah sent her and she said she did not. She said she was writing an unauthorized biography.” Mrs. Esters says Kelley’s visit was close to the time that New Yorker writer Henry Louis Gates came to get pictures so he could trace Oprah’s ancestry. There may have been some confusion.
“I asked my friend to find out who she was,” Mrs. Esters says of Kelley. “She went on line and found out what kind of books she wrote. When Kitty came back the next day, I didn’t give her much of an interview.” The intrepid Kelley did follow Mrs. Esters to her dialysis appointment. “She tried very hard to get me to make derogatory statements about Oprah. I would not.”
Two key issues: Mrs. Esters says she is sure she did not tell Kelley who Oprah’s father was. “I told her to ask Oprah’s mother who her father was. I wish she’d quoted me properly. I’m sorry if Kitty made me something that I’m not. I really am sorry.“
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