The Greats - from Oprah to Shakespeare

From Oprah to Muhammad Ali, listen to the stories of people who will be remembered forever.
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson (The Associated Press)
Listen to the full episode53:48

This week, a repeat of one of our favourite episodes, from March 2017.

Five podcasts about people who are great at what they do.


Oprah Winfrey. Muhammad Ali. Louis Armstrong. A Victorian-era Shakespearean actress who specialized in playing men. Stories about masters in their field from Making Oprah, Blank on Blank, Shakespeare Unlimited and more. 54:00

1. Backstory

"The way he captivated the media with his gift for gab, his turn of phrase, his confidence. He was 'on' all the time." — Mark Lee on Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is a boxer like no other. Known as "the greatest of all time" he would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. So in 1987 after being turned down repeatedly, CBC's Mark Lee traveled to Florida to try and get an elusive interview with Ali.

2. Shakespeare Unlimited

"She had been seen by millions of audience members, she was an icon." — Lisa Merrill on Charlotte Cushman

Charlotte Cushman was one of the most famous stage actresses of her time. In an era where few women could achieve a career in acting at all, she was known for playing men.

3. Making Oprah

"I was very clear that the purpose of this show was to be a light in the world and that was the mission statement."Oprah

The early years of Oprah's show often relied on sensational tabloid topics, from cheating husbands to sexy clothes. It was not yet the 'Live Your Best Life' Oprah we would come to know and love.

PLUS: An interview with the creators of Making Oprah, host Jenn White and producer Colin McNulty

4. Blank on Blank

"You've got to be good or as bad as the devil. ... Even if we had two, three days off I still had to blow that horn a few hours to keep up the chops." — Louis Armstrong, Blank on Blank

One of jazz music's founding fathers gave two teenage rookie reporters a shot at an interview. He explains his key to greatness -- which is never getting complacent and continuing to better himself.

5. Kitchen Sisters Present

"She goes on to write 700 poems in two years. I mean 700! For Pete's sake!" — Brenda Hillman

The Kitchen Sisters unveil Emily Dickinson's complexity, from her poems to her recipe for black cake.

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