How Meredith Vieira’s Bad Perm Led to Her Big Break

In this month’s issue of O, the Oprah magazine, Oprah asks several celebrities how they got their “big break.” In the case of Today Show cohost Meredith Vieira, it involved a really bad hair day. She says:

I’d been hired by CBS News and I decided to get a perm. They overprocessed my hair and it started to break, so I had to chop it all off. On my first day—it was January— I wore a hat to work, and kept wearing it for several days because I didn’t want anyone to see my hair. When everybody did, they were shocked. Two weeks later, the president of CBS News said to me, “We’ve got an assignment—we’re sending you to Chicago.” I said, “Okay, when do I come back?” He said, “You’re not coming back.” I’ll never forget walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the cold and wind, thinking, What have I done? This was during a recession—farmers were dealing with foreclosures, the Rust Belt was suffering. From the Chicago bureau, I was flying to Detroit and Indiana and all over the heartland. I was on the air pretty much every day, outdoors, talking to Dan Rather, in the hat. Those segments put me on the map. Not that I’m suggesting the road to success is a bad perm, but it certainly helped me.

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