Oprah Winfrey throws father Vernon a surprise life celebration as he’s battling cancer

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Holding hands: Oprah Winfrey hosted a surprise celebration of life for her 88-year-old father Vernon, who has been diagnosed with cancer, this week

Oprah Winfrey this week hosted a surprise life celebration for her 88-year-old father Vernon, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

She gathered some of his near and dear ones to throw a barbecue in honor of Vernon on July 4th “while he’s still well enough” to enjoy.

The 68-year-old talk show titan snapped a selfie video from the party in front of a celebratory sign that read, “Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Celebration.”

Holding hands: Oprah Winfrey hosted a surprise celebration of life for her 88-year-old father Vernon, who has been diagnosed with cancer, this week

Holding hands: Oprah Winfrey hosted a surprise celebration of life for her 88-year-old father Vernon, who has been diagnosed with cancer, this week

Party chatter rang out from behind Oprah as she shared with her more than 20 million followers, “So we planned a backyard barbecue that’s actually more than a backyard barbecue. It’s Appreciation Day for Vernon Winfrey.”

She explained that “my dad is ill and we wanted all his friends to come and celebrate him while he is able to receive the joy.”

Oprah revealed that at the time the video was shot, Vernon still believed the entire party prep was just for a Fourth of July celebration.

However, when he stepped in front of the sign, he was surprised and discovered that the celebrations were, in fact, a celebration of his life.

Life of the Party: Vernon, a Nashville barber, sat in a barber's chair in a corner of the backyard where he couldn't see the party reason sign

Life of the Party: Vernon, a Nashville barber, sat in a barber’s chair in a corner of the backyard where he couldn’t see the party reason sign

Making it happen: The talk show titan, 68, snapped a selfie video from the party in front of a celebratory sign that read 'Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Celebration'

Making it happen: The talk show titan, 68, snapped a selfie video from the party in front of a celebratory sign that read ‘Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Celebration’

Yum: During the video, Oprah and her longtime pal Gayle King showed off some of the food that was laid out for the guests, including fried chicken, brisket, turkey and burgers

Yum: During the video, Oprah and her longtime pal Gayle King showed off some of the food that was laid out for the guests, including fried chicken, brisket, turkey and burgers

During the video, Oprah and her longtime pal Gayle King showed off some of the food that was laid out for the guests, including fried chicken, brisket, turkey and burgers.

Vernon, a Nashville barber, sat in a barber’s chair in a corner of the backyard where he couldn’t see the party’s reason sign.

In an article about the party published Wednesday, Oprah Daily revealed that Vernon is currently battling cancer.

His daughter pulled out all the stops for his party, hiring gospel singer Wintley Phipps to perform and inviting Vernon’s sister Christine from Mississippi.

Side by side: Oprah is seen at her father's party alongside Gayle, who was her decades-long star and her close friend and henchman

Side by side: Oprah is seen at her father’s party alongside Gayle, who was her decades-long star and her close friend and henchman

Oprah gave a speech thanking Vernon “for being the kind of father that brought honor to your life and honor to my life,” noting that when he ran his hair salon, he “run this damn place never closed; not at Christmas, not on the weekends.’

She remarked, “I learned from your good work ethic, you showed up and you were on time β€” that’s why I haven’t missed a show in The Oprah Winfrey Show’s 25 years.”

Oprah was born illegitimate in the 1950s in Kosciusko, Mississippi to Vernita Lee, a maid, and Vernon, who was in the military.

After living with her maternal grandmother in the Mississippi countryside, Oprah moved to Milwaukee at the age of six to stay with Vernita.

Side by side: Vernon enjoys his party alongside Stedman Graham, who has been a public couple with Oprah since 1986

Side by side: Vernon enjoys his party alongside Stedman Graham, who has been a public couple with Oprah since 1986

Her childhood was marked by physical and sexual abuse, and Oprah has publicly revealed that she was raped when she was only nine years old.

At age 14, while pregnant with a son who was born prematurely and died in infancy, Oprah moved in with Vernon in Nashville.

Vernon firmly enforced his young daughter’s values ​​and discipline, refusing to let her wear cropped clothing or extravagant amounts of makeup.

“My life changed when my dad took me,” Oprah told the Washington Post in the 1980s, the decade in which she rose to fame. ‘He saved me. He just knew what he wanted and expected. He wouldn’t take anything less.’

“He saved me”: “When my father took me, my life changed,” Oprah told the Washington Post in the 1980s. She is pictured with Vernon in 2003

Vernon himself explained to the newspaper: “I wasn’t the father that the mother had to say, well, you know, she’s a girl, it’s about time you told her things. I spoke to her about the approach of boys or men. I told her, “If you don’t hold out, the boys won’t hold out for you.”

Oprah recalls, “I remember coming home with C one time and my dad said, ‘That’s not acceptable.'”

She said, “And I said, ‘Unacceptable? C is average. That’s not a bad grade.” And he said to me, “If you were a kid who could only get Cs, that’s really all I would expect from you. I wouldn’t ask for more than C’s from you. But you are not. And that is why Cs are not acceptable to you in this house.”

Oprah attended high school and college in Nashville, where she began broadcasting at radio station WVOL.

Wow: Oprah pulled out all the stops for her dad's party and hired gospel singer Wintley Phipps, pictured in 2012, to perform

Wow: Oprah pulled out all the stops for her dad’s party and hired gospel singer Wintley Phipps, pictured in 2012, to perform

She famously had a strained relationship with her mother, who disappeared from her life for years only to reappear when Oprah rose to fame.

“If I hadn’t gotten out of Milwaukee, nothing would have been the same. I think I would have been dead at 56,” Oprah told People a few years ago.

The TV legend, who is open about her fluctuating height and owns a Weight Watchers stake, said: “I think I would have been 437 pounds.”

She added: “I think I would have had diabetes. I would have had high blood pressure. I would have choked knowing things could have been different.”

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