Whoopi Goldberg (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Caryn Elaine Johnson, best known as Whoopi Goldberg (born November 13, 1955) is an American comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, author and talk show host.
Although Goldberg made her film debut in the avant-garde ensemble film Citizen: I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away (1982), her breakthrough role was playing Celie, a mistreated black woman in the Deep South in the period drama film The Color Purple (1985).
She played Oda Mae Brown a wacky psychic helping a slain man (Patrick Swayze) save his lover (Demi Moore) in the romantic fantasy film Ghost (1990) for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Goldberg was the second black woman in the history of the Academy Awards to win an acting Oscar (the first being Hattie McDaniel who won for Gone With the Wind in 1939).
She was co-producer of the television game show Hollywood Squares from 1998 to 2004. She has been the moderator of the daytime television talk show The View since 2007.
Goldberg has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards for her work in television. She is one of the few entertainers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. In the 1990s, Goldberg was rumored to be the highest paid actress for her appearances in film.
Goldberg was born in Manhattan and raised in the Chelsea-Elliot Houses the daughter of Emma (née Harris), a nurse and teacher, and Robert James Johnson, Jr., a clergyman. Goldberg has described her mother as a "stern, strong, and wise woman" who raised her as a single mother after Goldberg's father had left the family. Goldberg's recent ancestors migrated north from Faceville, Georgia; Palatka, Florida; and Virginia.
Her stage name, Whoopi, was taken from a whoopee cushion; she has 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." She adopted the traditionally German/Jewish surname Goldberg as a stage name because her mother felt that Johnson was not "Jewish enough" to make her a star. According to an anecdote told by Nichelle Nichols in the documentary film Trekkies (1997), 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!" 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.
Between the years of 1979 and 1981, she lived in communist East Germany, working in a number of theater productions. During her travels, she would smuggle various items into the country for the artists she stayed with.
Goldberg trained under acting teacher Uta Hagen at the HB Studio in New York City. She first appeared onscreen 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 composed of different character monologues, in 1983. Director Mike Nichols offered to take the show to Broadway. The self-titled show ran from October 24, 1984, to March 10, 1985, for a total of 156 performances. While on Broadway, Goldberg's performance caught the eye of director Steven Spielberg. He was about to direct the film The Color Purple, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, and offered her a leading role. The Color Purple was released in late 1985, and was a critical and commercial success. It was later nominated for 11 Academy Awards including a nomination for Goldberg as Best Actress.
A comedic and dramatic balance
Goldberg starred in Penny Marshall's directorial debut, 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 film was a success, and during the next two years, three additional motion pictures featured Goldberg, Burglar, Fatal Beauty and The Telephone. Though these were not as successful as her prior motion pictures, Goldberg still garnered awards from the NAACP 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 of the film, to no avail. 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 situation comedy Bagdad Cafe. 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 black female to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years, and only the second black female in Oscar history to win an acting award. Premiere Magazine named her character, Oda Mae Brown, in its list of Top 100 best film characters of all time.
Goldberg became the first African-American female to host the Academy Awards show in 1994. She hosted the awards show again in 1996, 1999 and 2002.
Goldberg released 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 which 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 the 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 also played the voice of Liz on the first four seasons of popular PBS program The Magic Schoolbus. She starred in the 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 four Emmy Awards. 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 canceled after one season. On her 48th 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 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 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.
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. Goldberg's debut as moderator drew 3.4 million viewers, 1 million fewer than O'Donnell's debut ratings. After two weeks, however, 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'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. 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." 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.
On more than one occasion, Goldberg has expressed strong disagreement and irritation with different remarks made by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, such as on October 3, 2007, when Hasselbeck commented that Hillary Clinton's proposed US$5,000 baby entitlement might lead to fewer abortions because of women wanting to keep the money.
Goldberg also created controversy when on September 28, 2009, during a discussion of Roman Polanski's case, she opined that Polanski's rape of a thirteen-year-old in 1977 was not "rape-rape". Goldberg later clarified that she had intended to highlight the exact charge brought against Polanski, namely statutory rape, i.e. "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor", rather than rape with an unwilling participant. Polanski had been initially charged with "rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor", but under a plea bargain, Polanski pleaded guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor" with the graver charges dropped, before fleeing to France, hours before he was to be formally sentenced.
After comedienne Kathy Griffin referred to Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown's daughters as "prostitutes", Goldberg said that if anyone insulted her daughter like that then "I would beat their ass." The audience reacted with shock, and support.
Other media appearances
Goldberg performed the role of Califia, the radiant Queen of the Island of California, for a theater presentation called Golden Dreams at Disney California Adventure Park, 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. Golden Dreams closed in September 2008 to make way for the upcoming Little Mermaid ride planned for DCA.
In 2001, Goldberg hosted the 50th Anniversary of I Love Lucy, a 50s black-and-white sitcom, celebrating the legacy of Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley.
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.
Along with her many contributions to film and television and her major impact on this industry, Whoopi Goldberg was a main narrator for HBO's 2003 film, Unchained Memories.
Goldberg made a guest appearance on the hit television show 30 Rock, in which she played herself. She is shown as endorsing her own workout video. In Season 4 of the show, Goldberg counsels Tracy Jordan on winning the "EGOT", the coveted combination of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards.
Goldberg was involved in controversy in July 2004 when, at a fundraiser for John Kerry at Radio City Music Hall in New York, Goldberg made a sexual joke about President George W. Bush, by waving a bottle of wine, pointing toward her pubic area and saying: "We should keep Bush where he belongs, and not in the White House." Slim-Fast took exception to these comments made by Goldberg and dropped her from the then current ad campaign.
From August 2006 to March 2008, Goldberg hosted Wake Up With Whoopi, a nationally syndicated morning radio talk and entertainment program.
In October 2007, Goldberg announced on the 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".
On July 14, 2008, Goldberg announced on The View that from July 29 to September 7, she would perform in the Broadway musical Xanadu.
On November 13, 2008, Goldberg's birthday, she announced live on The View that she would be producing, along with Stage Entertainment, the premiere of Sister Act: The Musical at the London Palladium. The show began on Wednesday, May 6, 2009, with the official press night on June 2, 2009. The show featured actress Sheila Hancock and Patina Miller, amongst others.
She also gave a short message at the beginning of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2008 wishing all the participants good luck, and stressing the importance of UNICEF, the official charity of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
Since its launch in 2008, Goldberg has been a contributor for wowOwow.com, a new website for women to talk culture, politics and gossip.
Goldberg has also been an advocate for human rights worldwide, moderating a panel at the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit on how social networks can be used to fight violent extremism in 2008, and also moderating a panel at the UN in 2009 on human rights, children and armed conflict, terrorism, human rights and reconciliation.
On December 13, 2008, Goldberg guest starred on The Naked Brothers Band, a Nickelodeon rock- mockumentary television show. Before the episode premiered, on February 18, 2008, the band performed on The View and the band members were interviewed by Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd.
On December 18 through 20, 2009, Goldberg performed in the Candlelight Processional at Epcot in Walt Disney World. She was given a standing ovation during her final performance for her reading of the Christmas story and her tribute to the guest choirs performing in the show with her.
She also makes a guest appearance in Michael Jackson's short film for the single "Liberian Girl".
She made an appearance on the seventh season of the cooking reality show Hell's Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay where she was a special guest sitting at the chef's table in the kitchen where she was served by the contestants.
On January 14, 2010, Goldberg made a one-night-only appearance at the Minskoff Theatre to perform in the mega-hit musical The Lion King.
Goldberg made her West End debut as the Mother Superior in musical version of Sister Act for a limited engagement set for August 10-31, 2010, but prematurely left the cast on August 27, to be with her family; her mother had suffered from a severe stroke. However, she returned to the cast for five performances. The show closed on October 30, 2010.
In 2012, Goldberg guest starred as Jane Marsh, Sue Heck's guidance counselor in the TV series, The Middle.
Later that year, she played a bit part in an independent short film by David Carter entitled "Indecisive".
Goldberg has been married three times " in 1973 to Alvin Martin (divorced in 1979, one daughter), in 1986 to cinematographer David Claessen (divorced in 1988), and in 1994 to the actor Lyle Trachtenberg (divorced in 1995). She has also been romantically linked with actors Frank Langella and Ted Danson. She has stated that she has no future plans to marry again, commenting "Some people are not meant to be married and I am not meant to. I"m sure it is wonderful for lots of people". In a 2011 interview with Piers Morgan, she explained that she never loved the men she married and commented "You have to really be committed to them. And I'm just"I don't have that commitment. I'm committed to my family".
In 1973, when Goldberg was eighteen, she and Alvin Martin had one daughter, Alexandrea (now an actress and producer who has used the stage names Alex Martin and Alex Dean). Goldberg became a grandmother at the age of thirty-four when her then sixteen year-old daughter gave birth to her daughter, Amarah Skye on Goldberg's 34th birthday. Granddaughter Jerzey followed in 1995 and grandson Mason in 1999.
During an episode of The View in April 2010, she defended Jesse James, then-husband of Sandra Bullock, commenting "It's nobody's fault. Maybe he was looking for something different" and explained she herself has cheated several times.
On August 29, 2010, Goldberg's mother Emma Johnson died after suffering a stroke. Goldberg left London at the time, where she had been performing in Sister Act the Musical, but returned to perform on October 22, 2010.
She has admitted publicly to having been a "high functioning" drug addict years ago, at one point being too terrified to even leave her bed to go use the toilet. She states she smoked marijuana before accepting the Best Supporting Actress award for Ghost in 1991. Goldberg suffers from dyslexia.
Awards and honors
Goldberg has received two Academy Award nominations, for The Color Purple and Ghost, winning for Ghost. She is the first African American to have received Academy Award nominations for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. She is the recipient of the 1985 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show for her solo performance on Broadway. She has received eight Daytime Emmy nominations, winning two. She has received five (non-daytime) 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 as well as the Women in Film [[Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards#THE CRYSTAL AWARD|Crystal Award]] for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. In 2009, Goldberg won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host for her role on The View. She shares the award with co-hosts Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters.
Goldberg is one of few to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. She has been seen 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.
In 1990, Goldberg was officially named an honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters exhibition basketball team by the members.
She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award for outstanding achievement by a dyslexic in 1987.
Goldberg once held the title as the highest-paid actress of all time, it is reported that her salary for Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit in 1993 was $7 to 12 million and was the highest-paid for an actress at the time.