Celebrity Biography: Whoopi Goldberg

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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59 thoughts on “Celebrity Biography: Whoopi Goldberg

  1. 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 ❤

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

    • 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 🙂

      • 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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

    • 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 😉

  5. 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.

    • 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 🙂

  6. 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.

  7. 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 🙂

    • 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 🙂

  8. 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! 👍

  9. 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

  10. 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.” 😀
    Oh, sending you wonderful hugs and love and have a wonderful, wonderful week! xo

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