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Six Memorable Talk Show Confessions

From hosts to celebrities, here are 6 confessions we truly remember


Whether it's a talk show host admitting he had an affair with a co-worker or a celebrity apologizing for a deed done wrong, talk shows have a history of bringing out the honesty in folks. Or, at the very least, they provide the kind of forum newsmakers seek out when a timely confession will help polish their image.

As we dive into this first confession, you'll notice something very special about this list. A lot of these confessions occurred with Oprah Winfrey in the room. The thing of it is, Oprah has some special power to get people to just plain tell the truth. Or some version of the truth, anyway. Likely, it's because if Oprah forgives or understands the confessor, by some means of osmosis, so do we all.

The only other talk show host to wield this same power is Barbara Walters. Her long series of TV specials have showcased numerous confessions - and at the very least, tears.

Without further ado, here are our Top 6 most recent memorable talk show confessionals. See if you agree:

1. Lance Armstrong admits to taking performance-enhancing drugs

Cyclist and philanthropist Lance Armstrong
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

In January 2012, famed cyclist (perhaps now infamous cyclist) Lance Armstrong sat down with talk show legend Oprah Winfrey to told her he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France over and over again.

The revelation was a shocker, if only because Armstrong has vehemently denied taking performance-enhancing drugs - or doping - for many years.

After a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report claimed that Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team led one of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program(s) that sport has ever seen," Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour de France titles he'd won.

During the interview, Armstrong said, "It was win at all costs. When I was diagnosed [with cancer] I would do anything to survive. I took that attitude -- win at all costs -- to cycling. That's bad."

You can view the entire interview on Oprah's Next Chapter's website.

2. David Letterman confesses to having an affair with a co-worker

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In October 2009, David Letterman walked out in front his studio audience like he always does. But instead of telling jokes, Letterman felt compelled to tell the truth about something. Maybe, in some ways, forced to tell the truth.

Letterman told his audience that he had had relationships with members of his staff over the course of several years. The reason why he decided to confess that October evening was because a former CBS producer - and friend of the staff member Letterman was messing around with - was trying to blackmail him. (The plot didn't work and the man, Robert J. Halderman, went to jail.)

Letterman poked fun at himself during his on-air confession before making a formal apology to his wife, Regina Lasko, and his staff. He said the relationships were in the past and promised to repair his marriage.

"Let me tell you folks," Letterman said, "I got my work cut out for me."

3. Manti Te’o tells Katie Couric about his imaginary girlfriend

Manti Te'o, Notre Dame linebacker, recovers from being a hoax victim.
J Meric/Getty Images

Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o arrived on the set of Katie in January 2013 ready to talk about his former girlfriend - who wasn't actually his girlfriend - or even a girl - or even real. If that confuses you, well, the whole story is pretty confusing. But Katie Couric was game to unravel it all. By the end of the confession - well, people are still scratching their collective "do I really care about this?" heads. Especially when, the day the show was set to air (the interview was pre-recorded), it was revealed that the "girlfriend" in question - one that Te'o discovered online and met only by phone - was a man all along. Oh, brother.

4. Michael Richards apologizes for his racist outbursts

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Back in 2006, Michael Richards, best known for playing wacky neighbor Kramer on the award-winning sit-com, Seinfeld, decided to do a little stand-up at a Los Angeles comedy club, the Laugh Factory.

Well, he got heckled by a couple of hecklers who happened to be African-American. And while disarming hecklers with biting wit is a comic staple, it shouldn't be administered with racial slurs. Which Richards discovered after doing so - and seeing his career immediately tank. Immediately.

He tried to lessen the blow by appearing on the Late Show via satellite alongside fellow comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who managed the exchanged like a diplomat. For Richards' part, he tried his best. He apologized for his attack and said that it was fueled by anger and not bigotry.

"For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this, I'm deeply, deeply sorry. I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this."

5. Anderson Cooper verifies his sexuality

Jamel Countess/Getty Images

Honestly, it's not news. Not really. But enough people for enough years have speculated on talk show host Anderson Cooper's sexuality that when he verified his homosexuality to a columnist in 2012, there was enough of a collective, "Yes, we wondered about that," that the story became news.

Anderson was responding to the question about the importance of prominent individuals coming out as homosexual and revealed his sexual orientation in part because he didn't want anyone thinking he was trying to hide something.

He also underscored his belief that reporters' political, religious and love lives should be kept private, if only for the safety of the individual.

"The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud," Anderson said.

6. James Frey confesses that his non-fiction book was mostly fiction

James Frey's 'A Million Little Pieces', once part of Oprah's Book Club
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Don't piss Oprah off. That's the lesson author James Frey learned the heard way.

Frey wrote an electrifying biography titled A Million Little Pieces that set the world a storm. Oprah got hold of it and anointed it to her Book Club, set her seal upon it and causing it to make Frey a million little dollars.

Except the thing of it was, the book was a fake. Sold as non-fiction, the book was more than a handful of lies and a whole bunch of exaggeration. Oprah decided to welcome Frey back to let him tell her audience all about it. By the time they were through, Frey was jelly and his career was potentially over.

But then, a few years later, Oprah asked Frey to come back on her show - so she could apologize. I know, right?

According to reports, Winfrey told Frey she felt she owed him an apology after she publicly humiliated him on her incredibly popular television show.

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