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Dr. Phil thanks Oprah for his start in TV

Dr. Phil McGraw became a TV host and household name due to his appearances on "Oprah."

The "Dr. Phil" show recently reached 1,500 episodes. On "The Early Show" he compared his time in TV to Oprah's, saying, "We were thinking that's a really big deal, and you look over and she's done almost 5,000 shows, close to 30,000 guests, and really has defined daytime television. It's appointment television. It's been a part of people's days for so many years."

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McGraw told "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge the loss of Oprah's show in daytime TV will create a void in people's lives.

"She's the best there ever was, the best there ever will be," he said. "I mean, Oprah has that unique quality. She once told me way, way back, she described herself as a viewer with a microphone. She said, 'I asked the questions the viewers want asked,' and people connect with her. They believe her. They relate to her. They share with her. This is like a really good friend moving away. People are going to go into mourning about this. It's a loss in people's rhythm of life."

"Oprah Effect" keeps on giving to show guests

McGraw said he met Oprah in a "non-television situation" 16 years ago. He said they connected immediately.

He said, "I was on her defense team in the mad cow case in Amarillo back in the day, and when I met her, I had never seen an 'Oprah' show. It was on during the day, I never watched it. Of course, I knew who she was. You can't be on the planet and not know. ... (I) got to meet her just as a person, and within 30 minutes of being with her, I understood why she was the amazing success that she was. This woman has a magnetism. She has this refreshing quality where, if you're in the room with Oprah, you feel better about who you are. ... You feel better about yourself for having been around her, and that's been her gift."

Another gift Oprah bestowed is McGraw's television career.

McGraw said, "People say, 'Wasn't Oprah a big factor in launching "Dr. Phil'?' She wasn't a big factor. She was the factor."

He continued, "And what a change in my life! Can you imagine being 50 years old and somebody comes to you and says, 'You know what? I want you to have a national platform, and you can talk about anything you want to talk about.' She has changed my life. She has changed my family's life, and I've now known her for 16 years. She's one of my dearest friends in the world, and all during those 16 years, there has never been a time that she hasn't been a staunch supporter, a mentor, someone that has really helped me shape my career. And how do you say thank you for something like that?"

As for Oprah's next chapter on her cable network, OWN, McGraw says she's going to "rewrite cable history."

"As you know, I'm involved in OWN," McGraw said. "... I'm in a unique position; she's not going away for me. She's still my partner and still my friend, and we're still working together on the Oprah Winfrey Network, so I think people are going to follow her there, and I think they're going to be impacted by her programming."

McGraw's "Dr. Phil" show appears on OWN. Also, projects he's done are slated to air on the network, such as "Finding Sarah," a show about the Duchess of York's emotional struggle to rebuild her life.

Oprah, McGraw said, is likely divided emotionally about the last day of her show.

"After 25 years, she's done every interview, she's set every record. She's done everything you could possibly imagine, and I think she felt like it was time to move on, but I think this is very emotional for her," he said. "I talked to her not long ago, when there were 25 shows left, and she said, 'Wow! 25 shows left after 25 years!.' She said, 'I just, I have such mixed emotions about this."'

McGraw added, "This is a bittersweet day for her, but I tell you, if you're ever going to go out, go out No. 1, and she has gone out No. 1."

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