Template:Infobox actor

Whoopi Cushion Goldberg (born Caryn Elaine Johnson; November 13, 1955) is an American actress, comedienne, and television host.

She is one of only thirteen people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award, including Daytime Emmy Awards. She is the second African American female performer after Hattie McDaniel to win an Academy Award for acting. She has won two Golden Globe Awards and two Saturn Awards for her performances in Star Trek Generations and Ghost.

On the August 1 2007 broadcast of The View, Barbara Walters announced Goldberg would be joining the show as moderator, the position previously held by Meredith Vieira and Rosie O'Donnell.[1]

In October 2007 announced on air that she would be retiring from acting because she is no longer sent scripts, saying, "You know, there's no room for the very talented Whoopi. There's no room right now in the marketplace of cinema. Being a Black intellectual with a Jewish surname finally caught up to me."[2]


Early life

Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in New York City, the daughter of Emma (née Harris), a nurse and teacher, and Robert James Johnson, a clergyman.[3][4] Goldberg's mother was a "stern, strong and wise woman" who raised her as a single mother after Goldberg's father had left the family.[5] Her stage name was taken from whoopee cushion, which she initially used as her stage name; she stated that "If you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go. So people used to say to me, 'You're like a whoopee cushion.' And that's where the name came from."[6] She chose the surname "Goldberg" after Jewish ancestors of hers who bore the surname, having said that "Goldberg's a part of my family somewhere."[5][7] In 1991, she referred to herself as a "Jewish-Catholic girl from New York";[8] she has also stated that her mother is Jewish and referred to herself as a "Jewish-American Princess".[9][10] A DNA test, broadcast in the 2006 PBS documentary African American Lives, traced most of her ancestry to the Papel and Bayote people of modern-day Guinea-Bissau. Her racial admixture test revealed her genetic makeup to be 92 percent sub-Saharan African and 8 percent European.[11][12]

In an anecdote told by Nichelle Nichols in the documentary film Trekkies, a young Goldberg was watching Star Trek, and upon seeing Nichols' character Uhura, exclaimed, "Momma! There's a black lady on TV and she ain't no maid!"[13] This spawned life-long fandom of Star Trek for Goldberg, who would eventually achieve a recurring guest-starring role in 1987s Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Goldberg's on-screen talent first emerged in 1981-82 in Citizen: I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away, an avant-garde ensemble feature by San Francisco filmmaker William Farley. Goldberg created The Spook Show, a one-woman show devised of different character monologues, in 1983. Director Mike Nichols was instantly impressed and offered to bring the show to Broadway. The self-titled show ran from October 24, 1984 to March 10, 1985 for a total of 156 sold-out performances. While performing on Broadway, Goldberg's performance caught the eye of director Steven Spielberg. He was about to direct the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, written by Alice Walker. Having read the novel, she was ecstatic at being offered a lead role in her first motion picture. Goldberg received compliments on her acting from Spielberg, Walker, and music consultant Quincy Jones. The Color Purple was released in the late autumn of 1985, and was a critical and commercial success. It was later nominated for 11 Academy Awards including a nomination for Goldberg as Best Actress. The movie did not win any of its Academy Award nominations, but Goldberg won the Golden Globe Award.

A comedic and dramatic balance

Goldberg starred in Penny Marshall's directorial debut, 1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash, and began a relationship with David Claessen, a director of photography on the set, and the couple married later that year. The movie was a success, and during the next two years, three additional motion pictures featured Goldberg, Burglar, Fatal Beauty, and The Telephone. Though not as successful as her prior motion pictures, Goldberg still garnered awards from the N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards. Claessen and Goldberg divorced after the box office failure of The Telephone, which Goldberg was under contract to star in. She tried to sue the producers, but with no luck. The 1988 movie, Clara's Heart, was critically acclaimed ,and featured a young Neil Patrick Harris. As the 1980s concluded, she participated in the numerous HBO specials of Comic Relief with fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

In January 1990, Goldberg starred with Jean Stapleton in the TV situation comedy Bagdad Café. The show ran for two seasons on CBS. Simultaneously, Goldberg starred in The Long Walk Home, portraying a woman in the Civil Rights Movement. She played a psychic in the 1990 film Ghost, and became the first African-American female to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years. Premiere Magazine named her character, Oda Mae Brown, the 95th best movie character of all time.[14]

Goldberg starred in Soapdish and had a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Guinan which she would reprise in two Star Trek movies. On May 29, 1992, Sister Act was released. The motion pictured grossed well over US$100 million and Goldberg was nominated for a Golden Globe. Next, she starred in Sarafina!. During the next year, she hosted a late-night talk show, The Whoopi Goldberg Show and starred in two more motion pictures Made in America and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. From 1994 to 1995, Whoopi appeared in Corrina, Corrina, The Lion King (voice), The Pagemaster (voice), Boys on the Side, and Moonlight and Valentino. Goldberg became the first African-American female to host the Academy Awards in 1994. She hosted the Awards again in 1996, 1999, and 2002. Goldberg released four motion pictures in 1996: Bogus (with Gerard Depardieu and Haley Joel Osment), Eddie, The Associate (with Dianne Wiest) and Ghosts of Mississippi (with Alec Baldwin and James Woods). During the filming of Eddie, Goldberg began dating co-star Frank Langella, a relationship which lasted until early 2000.

Goldberg wrote Book in October 1997, a collection featuring insights and opinions. In November and December 2005, Goldberg revived her one-woman show on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in honor of its 20th anniversary.

From 1998 to 2001, Goldberg took supporting roles in the Angela Bassett vehicle How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Kingdom Come. She starred in the successful ABC-TV versions of Cinderella, A Knight in Camelot, and the TNT Original Movie, Call Me Claus. In 1998, she gained a new audience when she became the "Center Square" on Hollywood Squares, hosted by Tom Bergeron. She also served as Executive Producer, for which she was nominated for 4 Emmys. She left the show in 2002, and the "Center Square" was filled in with celebrities for the last two on-air seasons without Goldberg. In 2003, Goldberg returned to television, starring in the NBC comedy, Whoopi, which was cancelled after one season. On her 48th birthday, Goldberg was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During the next two years, she became a spokeswoman for Slim Fast and produced two television sitcoms: Lifetime's original drama Strong Medicine that ran for six seasons and Whoopi's Littleburg, a Nickelodeon show for younger children. Goldberg made guest appearances on the Hit CW Network comedy, Everybody Hates Chris, as an elderly character named Louise Clarkson. She produced the Noggin sitcom Just For Kicks, in early 2006. She was a guest at Elton John's 60th birthday bash and concert at Madison Square Garden on March 25, 2007.

Goldberg has recently announced her retirement from acting. She said in interviews that she wants to focus on The View and her broadcasting career.

The View

On September 4 2007, Goldberg became the new moderator and co-host of The View, replacing Rosie O'Donnell. O'Donnell stated on her official blog that she wanted Goldberg to be moderator. With Goldberg's debut on The View, the ratings for the show were higher than O'Donnell's ratings as moderator.[15]

Goldberg's first appearance on the show was controversial when she made statements about Michael Vick's dogfighting as being "part of his cultural upbringing" and "not all that unusual" in parts of the South.[16][17] Another comment that stirred controversy was the statement that the Chinese "have a very different relationship to cats" and that "you and I would be very pissed if somebody ate kitty."[18]

Some defended Goldberg, including her co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, saying that her comments were taken out of context by the press, because she repeated several times that she did not condone what Vick did.[19]

On more than one occasion, Goldberg has expressed strong disagreement and irritation with different remarks made by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. On October 3 2007, Hasselbeck and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg were involved in a discussion about Hillary Clinton's new US$5,000 baby entitlement. The discussion became a little heated due to Hasselbeck's commenting on how it would lead to fewer abortions because of women wanting to keep the money. Goldberg told Hasselbeck to "back off a little bit" and asked her if she "had ever been in that position to make that decision." Goldberg added, "Most people do not want to have abortions. Most women do not have them with some sort of party going on. It is the hardest decision that a woman ever- wait- ever has to make. So, when you talk about it, a little bit of reverence to the women out there who have had to make this horrible decision. And one of the reasons that we have had to make this decision is because so many women were found bleeding, dead, with hangers in their bodies because they were doing it themselves. The idea of this was to make it safe and clean. That was the reason the law came into effect. That was why it was done."[20][21]

Other media appearances

Goldberg performed the role of Califia, the radiant Queen of California, for a theater presentation called Golden Dreams at Disney's California Adventure, the second gate at the Disneyland Resort, in 2000. The show, which explains the history of the Golden State (California), opened on February 8, 2001, with the rest of the park.

Goldberg hosted the 2001 documentary short, The Making Of A Charlie Brown Christmas. In July 2006, Goldberg became the main host of the Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Tour, in which she appears multiple times in video clips shown to the guests on monitors placed on the trams.

Goldberg made a guest appearance on the hit TV show, 30 Rock, in which she played herself. She is shown as endorsing her own workout video.

From August 2006 to March 2008, Goldberg hosted Wake Up With Whoopi, a nationally syndicated morning radio program.

Personal life

At age 18, following her marriage to 26-year-old Alvin Martin, Goldberg gave birth to their first and only child Alexandrea c.1973. After Goldberg's divorce from Martin, she moved to California and helped found the San Diego Repertory Company, where she used the stage name Whoopi Cushion. Before succeeding as an actress, she worked as a bank teller, a bricklayer, and a mortuary cosmetologist. Goldberg later went on to marry David Claessen, but they divorced after two years, in 1988. Whoopi later married Lyle Trachtenberg, but their marriage lasted only one year. In 2000, Whoopi broke up with her boyfriend of five years, Frank Langella.

Goldberg has three grandchildren through her daughter, Alexandrea Martin. The eldest, named Amarah Skye, was born on November 13, 1989, Goldberg's birthday.

In 1993, Goldberg was briefly involved with Ted Danson, who was married at the time and caring for his wife, who had survived a stroke while giving birth. There was controversy following a comedy routine at a Friars' Club roast that was performed in blackface. Goldberg wrote the script.

Awards and honors

Goldberg has received two Academy Award nominations, for The Color Purple and Ghost, winning for Ghost. She has received five Daytime Emmy nominations, winning one. She has received five Emmy nominations. She has received three Golden Globe nominations, winning two. She won a Grammy Award in 1985 and a Tony Award as a producer of the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has won three People's Choice Awards. In 1999, she received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Vanguard Award for her continued work in supporting the gay and lesbian community. She has been nominated for five American Comedy Awards with two wins. In 2001, she won the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.

Goldberg is one of few to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. She has starred in over 150 films, and during a period in the 1990s, Whoopi was the highest-paid actress of all time. Her humanitarian efforts include working for Comic Relief, recently reuniting with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams for the 20th Anniversary of Comic Relief.

In February 2002, Goldberg sent her Oscar statuette from Ghost to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be cleaned and replated. During this time, the statuette was taken from its shipping container, and later retrieved by the shipping company, UPS.[22]
She is currently working on creating the Stanton Award, awarded to best comedic performance.



Year Film Role Other notes
1982 Citizen : I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away Film debut
1985 The Color Purple Celie Harris Academy Award for Best Actress nomination,
Golden Globe - Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash Terri Dolittle
1987 Burglar Bernice 'Bernie' Rhodenbarr
Fatal Beauty Rita Rizzoli
1988 The Telephone Vashti Blue
Clara's Heart Clara Mayfield
1989 Comicitis Herself Short subject
Beverly Hills Brats Herself Cameo
Homer & Eddie Eddie Cervi
1990 Ghost Oda Mae Brown Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress,
Golden Globe - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
The Long Walk Home Odessa Cotter
1991 Wisecracks Herself documentary
Blackbird Fly Herself short subject
Soapdish Rose Schwartz
1992 Sister Act Dolores Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence Golden Globe - Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical nomination
The Player Detective Susan Avery
Sarafina! Mary Masembuko
The Magical World of Chuck Jones Herself documentary
1993 National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon Sgt. Billy York
Naked in New York Tragedy Mask on Theater Wall
Made in America Sarah Mathews
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Dolores Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence
1994 Liberation documentary narrator
The Lion King Shenzi the Hyena voice
The Little Rascals Buckwheat's mom
Corrina, Corrina Corrina Washington
Star Trek Generations Guinan uncredited
The Pagemaster Fantasy voice
1995 Boys on the Side Jane Deluca
The Celluloid Closet herself documentary
Moonlight and Valentino Sylvie Morrow
Theodore Rex Katie Coltrane
1996 Eddie Edwina 'Eddie' Franklin
Bordello of Blood Hospital Patient uncredited
Bogus Harriet Franklin
VR Troopers
The Associate Laurel Ayres/Robert S. Cutty
Ghosts of Mississippi Myrlie Evers
1997 Pitch Herself Documentary, uncredited
Mary Pickford: A Life on Film Host/narrator documentary
A Christmas Carol The Ghost of Christmas Past voice
Destination Anywhere Cabbie
In & Out Herself Special thanks
In the Gloaming Nurse Myrna
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn Herself Special Appearance
1998 Titey The Iceberg (voice) short subject
Alegría Baby Clown
A Knight in Camelot Dr. Vivien Morgan
How Stella Got Her Groove Back Delilah Abraham
Junket Whore Herself documentary
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie Stormella, The Evil Ice Queen (voice)
The Rugrats Movie Ranger Margaret (voice)
1999 Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat (voice)
The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns The Grand Banshee
Get Bruce Herself documentary
The Deep End of the Ocean Candy Bliss
Girl, Interrupted Valerie Owens, RN
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Judge Cameo uncredited
A Second Chance at Life Narrator documentary
More Dogs Than Bones Cleo
2001 Golden Dreams Calafia, the Queen of California (Narrator) short subject
Kingdom Come Raynelle Slocumb
Monkeybone Death
Rat Race Vera Baker
The Hollywood Sign (2001) One of the women throwing dirt on coffin at funeral scene Cameo
Call Me Claus Lucy
2002 Searching for Debra Winger Herself documentary
Showboy Herself Cameo
Star Trek Nemesis Guinan Uncredited
2003 Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives Narrator documentary
Pauly Shore Is Dead Herself documentary
Bitter Jester Herself documentary
Beyond the Skyline Herself short subject
Blizzard Blizzard (voice)
Good Fences Mabel Spader
2004 Pinocchio 3000 Cyberina (voice)
The N-Word Herself documentary
SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 Herself
Jiminy Glick in Lalawood Herself
The Lion King 1 1/2 Shenzi (voice)
2005 The Aristocrats Herself documentary
Racing Stripes Frannie (voice)
The Magic Roundabout Ermintrude
2006 Doogal Ermintrude (voice)
Everyone's Hero Darlin' (voice)
Farce of the Penguins Helen (voice)
2007 Homie Spumoni Thelma
If I Had Known I Was a Genius Mom
Nuremberg: A Vision Restored Herself documentary
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project Herself documentary
Our Country USA to Z Herself (voice) short subject
The Sophisticated Misfit Herself documentary
2008 Stream Jodi


  • Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway (1985)
  • Carol, Carl, Whoopi, and Robin (1987)
  • Whoopi Goldberg: Fontaine... Why Am I Straight? (1988) (also writer)
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (guest star 1988)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (recurring guest star from 1988-1993 as Guinan)
  • My Past Is My Own (1989)
  • Kiss Shot (1989)
  • Tales from the Whoop: Hot Rod Brown Class Clown (1990)
  • Bagdad Cafe (1990 - 1991)
  • Tales From The Crypt (Dead Wait) (1991)
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990 - 1993) (voice)
  • Defenders of Dynatron City (1992) (voice)
  • The Whoopi Goldberg Show (1992 - 1993)
  • Yuletide in the 'hood (1993) (voice)
  • A Cool Like That Christmas (1994) (voice)
  • Denver the Last Dinosaur (1994) (voice)
  • The Sunshine Boys (1995) (Cameo)
  • Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1995 - 1999) (voice)
  • Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special (1997) (voice)
  • Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
  • A Knight in Camelot (1998)
  • The Hollywood Squares (center square from 1998-2002) (also producer)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1999)
  • Jackie's Back! (1999)
  • Foxbusters (1999 - 2000) (voice)
  • Celebrity Dish (2000)
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? (2000)
  • The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999)
  • What Makes a Family (2001) (also executive producer)
  • Call Me Claus (2001) (also executive producer)
  • Madeline: My Fair Madeline (2002) (voice)
  • It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)
  • Absolutely Fabulous - "Gay", Christmas special (2002)
  • Good Fences (2003) (also producer)
  • Whoopi (2003 - 2004) (also executive producer)
  • Littleburg (2004) (canceled after five episodes)
  • Whoopi: Back to Broadway - the 20th Anniversary (2005) (also executive producer and writer)
  • Just for Kicks (2006) (developer and executive producer)
  • Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy (2006) (three part British TV series)
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2006)
  • Everybody Hates Chris (2006)
  • 30 Rock (2007)
  • The View (2007–present)
  • "Snow Buddies (2008)


  • Whoopi: Original Broadway Recording (1985)
  • Whoopi Goldberg: Fontaine... Why Am I Straight? (1988)
  • Sister Act - Soundtrack (1992)
  • Sister Act 2 - Soundtrack (1993)
  • Whoopi: The 20th Anniversary Show (2005)


  • Goldberg, Whoopi (2006). Whoopi's Big Book of Manners. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 078685295X. 
  • Goldberg, Whoopi (1997). Book. New York: R. Weisbach Books. ISBN 068815252X. 
  • Goldberg, Whoopi (1992). Alice. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0553089900. 


  1. The Associated Press. "Whoopi Goldberg joins 'The View'", CNN, 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. Archived from the original on 2007-11-23. 
  2. World Entertainment News. "Goldberg Retires From Acting", The Internet Movie Database News, 4 October 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  3. Clark Hine, Darlene (2005). Black Women in America, Second edition, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 531. OCLC 192019147. 
  4. Whoopi Goldberg Biography. filmreference (2008). Retrieved on 2008-05-17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Paul Chutkow. "Whoopi's Revenge", Cigar Aficionado, 1993. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  6. Deborah Solomon. "Making Nice", The New York Times, 20 August 2006. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  7. Lyman, Darryl (2005). Great African-American Women. Jonathan David Company, Inc., 94. ISBN 0824604598. 
  8. Kathy Huffhines. "Whoopi Reins Herself in For a Role She Feels Her Character In `Long Walk Home' Brings a Big Message", The Dallas Morning News, 1991-04-01. Retrieved on 2007-12-10. 
  9. Bob Strauss. "Oh, Sister! Goldberg Gets Her `Act' Together", Chicago Sun-Times, 1993-12-12. Retrieved on 2007-12-10. 
  10. "Whoopi: No More Sis' Films: Actress Also Takes Shots at The Media And Others Who Do Not Understand Her Brand of Humor", The Fresno Bee, 1993-12-11. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  11. Hsien Hsien Lei. "Whoopi Goldberg’s DNA Hails from W. Africa", Genetics and Health, 10 February 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  12. World Entertainment News. "Goldberg Refuses Invite to African Ancestral", PR-Inside, 26 February 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  13. Template:Cite video
  14. Kelly Borgeson, et al. "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time", Premiere. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  15. Michael Learmonth. "Whoopi-led View on topshow tops Rosie's ratings", Variety, 23 September 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  16. Associated Press. "Goldberg defends Vick in 'View' debut", The San Francisco Chronicle, 2007-09-04. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. Archived from the original on 2008-06-22. 
  17. Steve Gorman. "Whoopi Goldberg defends Vick's dog-fighting role", Reuters, 4 September 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  18. Venay Menon. "The new View? No big whoop", The Star, 5 September 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  19. Lisa de Moraes. "Whoopi on 'The View,' Day Two: She Doesn't Condone Michael Vick's Dogfighting", The Washington Post, 6 September 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  20. "Access Hollywood", Access Hollywood. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  21. Chris Jancelewicz. Whoopi, Elisabeth Butt Heads Over Abortion. Retrieved on 2008-05-17.
  22. Stephen M. Silverman. "Whoopi Goldberg's Oscar: Lost & Found", People, 6 February 2002. Retrieved on 2008-03-15. 

Further reading

  • Adams, Mary Agnes (1993). Whoopi Goldberg: From Street to Stardom. New York: Dillon Press. ISBN 0875185622. 
  • Caper, William (1999). Whoopi Goldberg: Comedian and Movie Star. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers. ISBN 0766012050. 
  • DeBoer, Judy (1999). Whoopi Goldberg. Mankato, MN: The Creative Company. ISBN 0886826969. 
  • Gaines, Ann (1999). Whoopi Goldberg. Philadelphia: Chelsea House. ISBN 0791049388. 
  • Parish, James Robert (1997). Whoopi Goldberg: Her Journey from Poverty to Megastardom. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 1559724315. 

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