Caryn Elaine Johnson (born November 13, 1955), known professionally as Whoopi Goldberg (/ˈwʊpi/), is an American actress, comedian, author, and television host. She has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awardsand is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award. She was the second black woman to win an Academy Award for acting.
Goldberg's breakthrough role was Celie, a mistreated woman in the Deep South, in the period drama film The Color Purple (1985), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won her first Golden Globe Award. For her role in the romantic fantasy film Ghost (1990) as Oda Mae Brown, an eccentric psychic, Goldberg won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a second Golden Globe, her first for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1992, Goldberg starred in the comedy Sister Act, earning a third Golden Globe nomination, her first for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. She reprised the role in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), making her the highest-paid actress at the time. Her other film roles include Made in America (1993), The Lion King (1994), Boys on the Side (1995), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), Girl, Interrupted (1999), For Colored Girls (2010), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). In television, Goldberg is known for her role as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation; since 2007, she has been the moderator of the talk show The View.
Background and early life Edit
Caryn Elaine Johnson was born in New York City’s Manhattan borough on November 13, 1955, the daughter of Robert James Johnson Jr. (March 4, 1930 – May 25, 1993), a Baptist clergyman, and Emma Johnson (née Harris; September 21, 1931 – August 29, 2010), a nurse and teacher. She was raised in the Chelsea-Elliot Houses.
Goldberg has described her mother as a "stern, strong, and wise woman" who raised her as a single mother with her brother Clyde (c. 1949 – May 11, 2015), who died of a brain aneurysm. She attended a local Catholic school, St Columba's when she was younger. Her more recent forebears migrated north from Faceville, Georgia, Palatka, Florida and Virginia. She dropped out of Washington Irving High School.
She has stated that her stage forename ("Whoopi") was taken from a whoopee cushion; "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." She said in 2011, "My mother did not name me Whoopi, but Goldberg is my name, it's part of my family, part of my heritage. Just like being black." Henry Louis Gates Jr., in his book In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, found that all of Goldberg's traceable ancestors were African Americans, that she has no known Jewish ancestry, and that none of her ancestors were named Goldberg. Results of a DNA test, revealed in the 2006 PBS documentary African American Lives, traced part of her ancestry to the Papel and Bayote people of modern-day Guinea-Bissau. Her admixture test indicates that she is of 92 % sub-Saharan African origin and of 8 % European origin.
According to an anecdote told by Nichelle Nichols in Trekkies (1997), a young Goldberg was watching Star Trek, and upon seeing Nichols's character Uhura, exclaimed, "Momma! There's a black lady on television and she ain't no maid!" This spawned lifelong fandom of Star Trek for Goldberg, who would eventually ask for and receive a recurring guest-starring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In the 1970s, Goldberg relocated to Southern California before settling in Berkeley, where she worked various odd jobs, including as a bank teller, a mortuary cosmetologist, and a bricklayer. There, she joined the avant-garde theater troupe, the Blake Street Hawkeyes, and taught comedy and acting classes which were attended by Courtney Love. Between 1979 and 1981, she lived in East Germany, working in a number of theater productions.
Early work Edit
Goldberg trained under acting teacher Uta Hagen at the HB Studio in New York City. She first appeared onscreen in Citizen: I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away (1982), an avant-garde ensemble feature by San Francisco filmmaker William Farley. Goldberg created The Spook Show, a one-woman show composed of different character monologues in 1983. Director Mike Nichols offered to take the show to Broadway. The show was retitled Whoopi Goldberg for its Broadway incarnation, ran from October 24, 1984, to March 10, 1985, for a total of 156 performances; the play was taped during this run and broadcast by HBO as Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway in 1985.
Goldberg's Broadway performance caught the eye of director Steven Spielberg, who cast her in the lead role of The Color Purple, based on the novel by Alice Walker. The Color Purple was released in late 1985 and was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including a nomination for Goldberg as Best Actress.
Comedic and dramatic balance Edit
Goldberg starred in Penny Marshall's directorial debut Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) and began a relationship with David Claessen, a director of photography on the set; the couple married later that year. The film was a modest success, and during the next two years, three additional motion pictures featured Goldberg: Burglar (1987), Fatal Beauty (1987) and The Telephone (1988). Though these were not as successful as her prior motion pictures, Goldberg still garnered awards from the NAACP Image Awards. Goldberg and Claessen divorced after the poor box office performance of The Telephone, which Goldberg was under contract to star in. She tried unsuccessfully to sue the producers of the film. Clara's Heart did poorly at the box office, though her own performance was critically acclaimed. 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 situation comedy Bagdad Cafe. The sitcom 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 film Ghost (1990) and became the first black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years, and the second black woman to win an Academy Award for acting (the first being Hattie McDaniel, for Gone with the Wind (1939)). Premiere named her character Oda Mae Brown in its list of Top 100 best film characters.
Goldberg starred in Soapdish (1991) and had a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Guinan, which she would reprise in two Star Trek films. On May 29, 1992, Sister Act was released. The motion picture grossed well over US $200 million and Goldberg was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Next, she starred in Sarafina!. During the next year, she hosted a late-night talk show titled 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, Goldberg appeared in Corrina, Corrina, The Lion King (voice), The Pagemaster (voice), Boys on the Side and Moonlight and Valentino. Goldberg guest starred on Muppets Tonight in 1996. She became the first African-American woman to host the Academy Awards show in 1994, and the first woman to solo host. She hosted the awards show again in 1996, 1999 and 2002.
Goldberg starred in four motion pictures in 1996: Bogus (with Gérard 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 that lasted until early 2000. In October 1997, Goldberg and ghostwriter Daniel Paisner cowrote Book, 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 How Stella Got Her Groove Back with Angela Bassett, Girl, Interrupted with Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, Kingdom Come and Rat Race with an all-star ensemble cast. She starred in the ABC-TV versions of Cinderella, A Knight in Camelot and 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 four Emmy Awards. She left the series in 2002, and the "Center Square" was filled in with celebrities for the last two on-air seasons without Goldberg. Most recently, she had a cameo role as Megan Fox's boss in the reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) and portrayed herself in Chris Rock's Top Five.
In 2003, Goldberg returned to television, starring in Whoopi, which was canceled after one season. On her 46th birthday, Goldberg was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Goldberg also appeared alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett in the HBO documentary Unchained Memories (2003), narrating slave narratives. During the next two years, she became a spokeswoman for Slim Fast and produced two television series: 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 Everybody Hates Chris as an elderly character named Louise Clarkson. She produced the Noggin sitcom Just for Kicks in early 2006.
The View Edit
The View's panel (left–right Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck) interview Barack Obamaon July 29, 2010
On September 4, 2007, Goldberg became the new moderator and co-host of The View, replacing Rosie O'Donnell, who supported the choice. Goldberg's debut as moderator drew 3.4 million viewers, 1 million fewer than O'Donnell's debut ratings. However, after 2 weeks, The View was averaging 3.5 million total viewers under Goldberg, a 7% increase from 3.3 million under O'Donnell the previous season.
Goldberg has made controversial comments on the program. Her first appearance included statements taken by some to condone football player Michael Vick's dogfighting. In 2009, she opined that Roman Polanski's rape of a thirteen-year-old in 1977 was not "rape-rape", later clarified that she had intended to distinguish between statutory rape ("unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor") and forcible rape. Goldberg was a staunch defender of Bill Cosby from the outset of his rape allegations, asserting he should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and questioning why Cosby had never been arrested or tried for them. After learning that the statute of limitations on these allegations had expired and thus could not be tried, she called for Cosby to answer the allegations, and began advising women to come forward if they are raped.