After excerpts from Kitty Kelley's book "Oprah: A Biography" were published in the New York Daily News saying Tesh, 57, and Winfrey, 56, had lived together in Nashville when the two were starting their careers in 1974, Tesh told his old show, "Oprah and I were cub reporters in Nashville nearly 40 years ago and we dated for a short time. We even talked about it during one of my appearances on her show. We remain friends to this day."
What they talked about on Winfrey's 10th-anniversary show in 1996 was actually much less than Tesh remembers: Winfrey at that time claimed the two had simply had a single "platonic dinner date," according to the paper.
But one of Tesh's ex-girlfriends told celebrity biographer Kelley, who has written tomes on Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Reagan, that Tesh and Winfrey had lived together in Nashville when Tesh was a news anchor at NBC affiliate WSM (now WSMV) and a 20-year-old Winfrey was the city's first female co-anchor, at CBS affiliate WLAC (now WTVF).
But Tesh succumbed to the pressure of being an interracial couple in Tennessee at that time. "He said one night he looked down and saw his white body next to her black body and couldn't take it anymore," Tesh's ex - one of 850 people Kelley and her staff interviewed - told the biographer. "He walked out in the middle of the night. . . . He told me he later felt very guilty about it."
The book also says Oprah's elderly cousin, Katharine Carr Esters, gave Kelley the identity of Winfrey's biological father, something Winfrey reportedly doesn't know herself, but swore Kelley to secrecy until such time as Winfrey's mother, Vernita Lee, tells her first.
Said Esters, "ou'll know when that happens because Oprah will probably have a show on "Finding Your Real Father." As I said, the girl wastes nothing."
Angela DePaul, Winfrey's spokeswoman, said Saturday that Winfrey had no comment on the book, which will be released Tuesday.