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Suze Orman Biography

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Birth Name: Suze Orman
Born: 06/05/1951
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Susan Lynn Orman was born on June 5, 1951 in Chicago, IL. Her parents, Ann and Morry Orman, were Russian-Jewish immigrants who ran a deli in Hyde Park on the city's south side. When she was 13, their deli burned down and as she witnessed her father dive into the flames to rescue the cash register, Orman realized the tremendous power money had over people's lives. Despite suffering from a speech impediment that made it difficult for her to excel academically from elementary all through high school, she majored in social work at the University of Illinois, working as a waitress and a dishwasher to support herself. At age 20, Orman moved to Berkeley, CA where she worked as a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery for almost a decade. When she hit 30, Orman decided she wanted to open a restaurant. With the help of friends and her longtime customers from the bakery, she collected about $50,000, but instead of opening her own business, Orman invested the money at Merrill Lynch. A few months later, she found herself broke again because her broker led her into bad investments. She sued Merrill Lynch, but also entered its training program. Orman eventually recouped the entire $50,000 plus interest, and paid back her loan. While she finished the program and became a broker, her bosses were not at all encouraging, warning Orman that she would not last more than six months. Instead, she lasted three years at Merrill Lynch, before moving on to Prudential to sell insurance to retirees. Orman started her own financial services firm in 1987, and when her business took off, she began to consider authoring financial guidebooks.

Orman's first book, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It, came out in 1994. Boosted by her no-nonsense approach and messages of self-empowerment during her book tours, it sold more than 700,000 copies. Her follow-up book, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, made Orman virtually an overnight success. In her 9-step program, she covered the psychological and spiritual factors in how most people perceive money. She also offered practical tips on investing, budgeting, getting out of debt, and buying big-ticket items. With book sales topping the three million mark, Orman found herself very wealthy and extremely in demand. As America's most popular financial adviser, Orman began appearing on shows like "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (syndicated, 1986- ), "Larry King Live" (CNN, 1985- ) and "Today" (NBC, 1952- ), dishing out money advice with her signature mark of disapproval - cocking her head left and right, and furrowing her brow as she listened to viewers' tales of overspending.

Orman's fame skyrocketed as host of "The Suze Orman Show," a weekly program where she dispensed advise to callers or e-mailers about their financial concerns. The show's segment, "Can I Afford It?" drew top ratings. Callers candidly told her what they want to buy, how much money they make, how much debt they have, and other specifics of their finances - and waited for Orman to either approve or deny their purchase. Orman was witty, blunt, and earnest, and punctuated her responses with her trademark gesture of wagging her index finger, or offering a variety of catchphrases, including "People first, then money, then things." For her work on the show, she received two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Service Show Host (2004, 2006). As successful as she was, Orman had her fair share of critics who scoffed at her spiritual and self-help approach to money. Forbes magazine in 1998 wrote that Orman misrepresented her credentials. She also found herself in hot water for not foreseeing the financial crisis that took hold 2008-10; a claim that she partially acknowledged before putting the blame on the banks and brokerage firms who she claimed "lied through their teeth." Orman also made headlines in 2007 when she came out to New York Times Magazine, revealing the identity of her longtime partner, Kathy Travis, and joking that she was "a 55-year-old virgin" because she had never had a heterosexual relationship. While some news outlets focused on her homosexuality, others used her announcement as a platform to discuss his statements about the financial consequences of her not being able to legally marry her partner.

Ever since she skyrocketed to fame as a financial guru, Orman had been building an empire that included books, DVDs, and financial kits. She wrote a column in Winfrey's O magazine, and frequently hosted the program "Suze Orman's Financial Freedom" on QVC. In the mid-2000s, Orman was clearly on top of her game. She earned a spot on Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" (2008, 2009), and was impersonated by Kristen Wiig on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) - a surefire sign that Orman was a bona fide superstar. She also offered financial advice to Hollywood A-listers, including comedienne Kathy Griffin who quipped that Orman could "turn the fiscal crisis around in about eight days." Orman continued to churn out best-selling guidebooks, including Women and Money (2008), which talk show-diva Winfrey endorsed and gave away for free on her website for a 33-hour period. Even though more than one million copies of Orman's book were downloaded, the book still landed at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.