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Celebrity Biography: Whoopi Goldberg

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Whoopi Goldberg Profile Pic

Whoopi Goldberg Relaxes as a Comic Relief Dress Rehearsal. By Photographer Daniel Langer, dlanger on flickr.com. Copyright is held by Daniel Langer and Comic Relief, Inc, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia.

Whoopi Goldberg is a celebrity with many talents. She is one of the few recipients of the EGOT, as she has received one each of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. She is perhaps best known for her wit as a stand-up comedian as well as her serious discussions as the moderator for the ABC television show The View.

Young Whoopi Goldberg

Goldberg was born on November 13, 1955, as Caryn Elaine Johnson. She grew up in New York City, raised primarily by her mother. Goldberg took on her stage name soon after she started acting onstage in California.

Her career received a boost when, while performing with the experimental Blake Street Hawkeyes, she was noticed by director Mike Nichols. Nichols helped her take her one-woman comedy act The Spook Show to Broadway in 1984. In the one-woman show, she took on supposed “misfits” who at first glance seemed grotesque, and she did so without being patronizing. It was then that many people realized her uniqueness.

The next year, Goldberg won a Grammy for a recording of her skits on the show. The Grammy was for Best Comedy Performance Single or Album for Original Broadway Show Recording.

More Career Highlights

Whoopi Golberg’s first Academy Award nomination came in 1985 with her very first movie role, playing Celie Harris in the film The Color Purple. While she did not win the Oscar, she did receive a Golden Globe award for her role. More awards were in store for Goldberg. In 1991, she won the Academy Award Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ghost. She received a second Golden Globe for Ghost too.

Here is a clip of Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost, discovering that she actually does have psychic abilities:

Other popular movies in Goldberg’s acting career include Jumping Jack Flash, The Long Walk Home, Girl Interrupted, and Sister Act. On television, she had a well-known five-season run on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Goldberg recently explained that she was so passionate about being on Star Trek as “there were no black people in any sci-fi, anywhere” before that show.

She has also hosted the Academy Awards multiple times (1994, 1996, and 1999). Yes, she was the first woman to host it alone. You likely know her from her Comic Relief live shows too, which raised monetary funds for the homeless.

Whoopi Goldberg has explored roles as a producer too. She produced the television show Hollywood Squares and several TV movies. She was co-producer of the hit Broadway musical Sister Act, based on her 1992 comedic movie, which opened in London’s West End, as well as Broadway, and had a US Tour. Whoopi became the character of Mother Superior for the London production in 2009, two years after she joined the cast of the talk show The View.

Controversies and Whoopi Goldberg

When Goldberg replaced Rosie O’Donnell as the moderator on The View, she likely knew it would be a controversial role, given that common topics include politics and religion. In the role, she brings humor, wisdom, and is skillful at keeping the show running on schedule. She openly criticizes President Donald Trump and has dismissed Ivanka Trump’s book “Women Who Work” as “not working for a lot of women right now.”

She has been part of other controversies as well. For example, in 1993 her then-boyfriend Ted Danson showed up at a Friars Club roast with a painted blackface and spoke words later revealed to have been written by Goldberg. She received much bad media coverage following the event, but she publicly laughs about the incident today.

In 2016, Whoopi Goldberg announced a pot startup to help women with menstrual problems.

She is a co-founder of the “Whoopi and Maya” brand with Maya Elisabeth. The business was spurred on by Goldberg’s painful experiences with her menstrual cycles, which she says she was only able to find relief from through cannabis.

Smiling Whoopi Goldberg

Celebrity Whoopi Goldberg. Photo by Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons.

Concluding Words about the EGOT Award Winner

Whoopi Goldberg is also well-known for her oversized fashion style, and her dreadlocks are her signature look.

Her shoes receive a significant amount of media attention for their unique, quirky features. On The View, for example, she has sported runners with huge heels and bright yellow shoes shaped like peeled bananas.

She is currently unmarried, has one daughter, and is a grandmother to three. She has been married three times.

Here are some more interesting facts about Whoopi Golberg:

  • She is left-handed
  • She has dyslexia
  • Smoked cigarettes for 40 years and quit in 2015
  • Has a tattoo of Woodstock from the Peanuts cartoon on her shoulder
  • Her friends include Robert de Niro
  • Collects Fiesta Ware (china)
  • Got an honorary degree from Pennsylvania’s Wilson College
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58 Comments

  1. Sue Dreamwalker May 5, 2017

    Whoopi is a wonderful actress and has always come across as a special lady.. reading more about her here confirms that.. Many thanks for sharing Christy.. And a deserving lady to add to your Inspiration list.. :-)
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend.. Hugs and Much Love Sue <3

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 9, 2017

      So glad you felt Whoopi to be a great choice for a spotlight here too, Sue <3 Have a beautiful week!

    2. Sue Dreamwalker May 9, 2017

      I will indeed Christy.. you too xxx <3

  2. Clanmother May 5, 2017

    A life well lived! I especially liked Whoopi’s Star Trek role! Thank you for another inspiring post!

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      I didn’t know you’re a Trekkie! Thank you for appreciating my writing, Rebecca. Your visits humble me.

  3. Alessandro Tinchini May 5, 2017

    I always admired her. She’s very popular in Italy too. “Ghost” and “Sister Act” are two cult movies there. Thanks for sharing, Christy.

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Ohhh I didn’t know she’s popular in Italy. Who else would be a “popular celebrity” where you live, Alessandro? Ghost is a movie I could watch repeatedly :)

    2. Alessandro Tinchini May 6, 2017

      Well, the majority of american celebrities are quite popular in Italy too. But since Whoopi is more iconic because of her self-characterization, she’s more of a cult actress and her popularity here is a confirmation of her talent. She was present when the italian version of the “Sister Act” musical opened in Milan.

  4. John Fioravanti May 5, 2017

    Thanks for this illuminating post, Christy. Being a die-hard Trekkie, I loved Whoopi in Next Generation – the wise bartender. I loved the fact that all of the Star Trek franchises featured multicultural and multiracial cast members. I believe that was part of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a better, more inclusive future for humanity. I loved her in Sister Act too!

    Reply
    1. Teagan Geneviene May 5, 2017

      Lovely comment, John. Well said. Hugs.

    2. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Ahhhh, a universe of equality for all.. Wonderful. Perhaps you could write about Gene Roddenberry’s vision on your blog, John? It could make a fascinating post!

  5. Teagan Geneviene May 5, 2017

    Thanks for this lovely bio, Christy. What a delight to revisit Whoopi’s accomplishments. She is truly an inspiring woman. Mega hugs!

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Thanks, Teagan! I also like your support of John’s comment. Conversations here are amazing xx

  6. Resa May 5, 2017

    This is a perfect review for your blog, Christy. You write so well!
    Whoopi is wonderfully accomplished. I enjoy her work and admire her a lot. I have had the honor of working wit her on two projects, and she is fabulous. I’m so glad to hear she quit smoking! Yay!!! xo

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 9, 2017

      I like that you call her “fabulous” … and I agree!!

  7. Carol Balawyder May 5, 2017

    This was very interesting, Christy. I wonder how she ever came up with the stage name Whoopie Goldberg. :)

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Great you enjoyed the read, Carol. Whoopi once told the story behind her name “Whoopi” on The View. She said it was a nickname because of her flatulence, which was similar to the sound of a whoopee cushion ;)

  8. thecommutary May 5, 2017

    I was lucky enough to see Whoopi perform live last year and was blown away by her candor and intellect. She has a very loyal fan base. Nice write up about a special person.

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Oh I’m so glad you think I did her justice with the post here! You are so lucky to have seen her perform live – what a great experience that must have been :)

  9. Rolly A. Chabot May 5, 2017

    Well written Christy and Whoopi has entertained for years and never changed. So diverse and talented, just hard not to love.

    Hugs

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      I love how she’s totally herself – great way to be!!

  10. syl65 May 5, 2017

    A wonderful read about Whoopi, Christy. I remember when she had that string of hit movies and she seemed to be everywhere. I admire her open, straightforward personality.

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Yes, exactly, she has a straightforward manner of being ~ so true, Syl!

    2. syl65 May 7, 2017

      Enjoyed your post very much, Christy!

  11. Mabel Kwong May 5, 2017

    It is inspiring to read how far Whoppi has come along. She really is one who rolls with the punches and lets her own work do the talking. Amazing that she has started pot startup to help women with menstrual issues – we certainly need to be more open such issues today. My earliest memory of Whoppi when I was a kid in the 90s and 2000s. Sesame Street was one of the TV shows I watched then and I loved her in the scenes with Elmo :)

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Awww thanks for adding the details about her being on Sesame Street :) She wasn’t on it when I was a girl watching that show so I love that you told of your own experience watching her xx Have a wonderful weekend, Mabel :)

  12. ghostwritingplus May 6, 2017

    Great write-up, Christy! I enjoyed learning more about Whoopi. I adore her in Ghost.

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Hi G! I’ll join you for a gal’s movie night watching Ghost :)

  13. shehannemoore May 6, 2017

    She’s an amazing lady sure enough Christy and this is a great post x

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      You’re pretty amazing yourself xx

  14. Felicia Denise May 6, 2017

    Have been a Whoopi fan and admirer since her first Broadway standup more than thirty years ago! Her grit and determination to remain true to herself regardless of the labels others place on her is a testimony to her strength and character.

    Great post! 👍

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      Awesome summary of her strong, admirable character, Felicia! Once again, thank you for the reblog. May your weekend be wonderful :)

  15. Felicia Denise May 6, 2017

    Reblogged this on Nesie's Place and commented:
    Love this woman! She IS an inspiration!

    Reply
  16. vivachange77 May 6, 2017

    I have enjoyed Whoopi Goldberg in her movies and hosting the Academy Awards. I’m glad to learn so much more from your excellent review.

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 6, 2017

      I wish she’d host the Academy Awards again! Maybe with Billy Crystal :) Great to see you xx

  17. Eliza Waters May 6, 2017

    A great entertainer – although she is mistaken about being the first black woman in sci-fi…how could she forget Lt. Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols)?

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 8, 2017

      Hi Eliza, she didn’t mean she was the first black woman in sci-fit.. she meant the show was the first sci-fi one to feature a black woman, meaning Nichelle Nichols :)

    2. Eliza Waters May 8, 2017

      Oh, okay, that makes more sense. Thanks for clarifying. :)

  18. Carolyn Page May 7, 2017

    Love this woman, Christy; especially her bravery for talking her talk and walking it too! I always watch her with a smile on my face.
    Beautifully written, btw… :)
    xoxoxo

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 8, 2017

      Awww your comment is wonderful, Carolyn :) Thanks!

  19. Sageleaf May 7, 2017

    LOVE this post. Whoopi’s one of my favorite people and Ghost and Star Trek are two things I can watch over and over and over again. And Sister Act. Hehe.
    I could also see her as “Caryn.” :)
    But you also gave me an idea. I might have to take her advice on that “time of the month.” :D
    Oh, sending you wonderful hugs and love and have a wonderful, wonderful week! xo

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 8, 2017

      She is thinking outside of the box regarding menstruation, for sure! Thanks Cyndi and cheers to “Caryn” :)

  20. macjam47 May 7, 2017

    Whoopi Goldberg is undoubtedly the funniest lady of our time! My favorite movie she was in is Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Great post, Christy!

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 8, 2017

      Yes, Jumpin’ Jack Flash was great! Another reader here pointed out her appearances on Sesame Street too :)

    2. macjam47 May 8, 2017

      Yes, I’d forgotten about that.

  21. dgkaye May 7, 2017

    I love Whoopi and was excited to read this wonderful bio about her. Well done my friend! <3

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 8, 2017

      I love the outpouring of support for Whoopi that I’m reading in the comments here, Debby <3 Have a wonderful week ahead!

    2. dgkaye May 8, 2017

      You too Christy. <3

  22. Marje @ Kyrosmagica May 7, 2017

    Enjoy watching Whoopi’s films and now I know more about her I’m sure I’ll enjoy them even more. Nice bio Christy. :3

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 8, 2017

      So nice, Marje :) Big hugs

  23. Artist Inese Poga May 10, 2017

    Interesting, I have lots in common with Whoopi. We are also practically the same age. I’m watching the Talk here and there. I like her honesty.

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 10, 2017

      Oh she isn’t on the The Talk, instead she’s on a show called The View. But similar names, now that you point that out! Enjoy your day, Inese :)

  24. ahavaha May 12, 2017

    Oooh Christy this is a very knowledgeable and intelligently done post on Whoopi!

    Reply
    1. Christy B May 13, 2017

      Cheering on Whoopi… and cheering you on too! Happy weekend :)

    2. ahavaha May 14, 2017

      Thanks for your kindness my dear. Have a great week ahead.

    3. Christy B May 15, 2017

      Awww wishing you all the best this week too ♥

  25. The Boss Book Club June 1, 2017

    She makes me laugh in interviews, and I loved her in the movie rat race! Great article on an interesting woman :)

    Reply
    1. Christy B June 1, 2017

      OHHHH Rat Race! I totally forgot about her with the blonde hair in that one :D Thanks for reminding me!!

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