Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress, comedian, author and television host. She has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards for her work in television and is one of the few entertainers who has won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. She was the second black woman in the history of the Academy Awards to win an acting Oscar.
Let’s see some interesting facts about her!
1. Caryn Elaine Johnson was born November 13, 1955 in Manhattan, New York City.
2. She is the daughter of Robert James Johnson, Jr., a clergyman, and Emma Johnson, a nurse and teacher.
3. She was raised in the Chelsea-Elliot Houses.
4. Goldberg has described her mother as a “stern, strong, and wise woman” who raised her as a single mother with her brother Clyde, who died of a brain aneurysm.
5. She went to a local Catholic school, St Columba’s when she was younger. Her more recent forebears migrated north from Faceville, Georgia, Palatka, Florida, and Virginia.
6. She dropped out of Washington Irving High School.
7. 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.”
8. The name Goldberg is an alternative family name that she says she chose to use to be taken more seriously, stating in 2011 that: “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.”
9. According to the Jewish Chronicle, one story suggests that her mother “thought that the family’s original surname was ‘not Jewish enough’ for her daughter to become a star.”
10. 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 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.
11. Between 1979 and 1981, she lived in 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.
12. Goldberg trained under acting teacher Uta Hagen at the HB Studio in New York City. She first appeared onscreen in 1982 in Citizen: I’m Not Losing My Mind, I’m Giving It Away, an avant-garde ensemble feature by San Francisco filmmaker William Farley.
13. 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 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 subsequently broadcast by HBO as Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway in 1985.
14. 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 the novel by Alice Walker, and offered her a leading role.
15. 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.
16. Goldberg has been married three times.
17. She was romantically linked with actors Frank Langella, Timothy Dalton, and, most famously, Ted Danson, who infamously appeared in blackface during her 1993 Friars Club roast.
18. 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.”
19. 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.”
20. In an October 2013 interview with Howard Stern, Whoopi admitted that she did love one man, not in the show business industry, who died of AIDS after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion.
21. On May 9, 1974, when Goldberg was 18, she and Alvin Martin had one daughter, Alexandrea Martin.
22. Her daughter Alexandrea Martin also became an actress and producer.
23. Goldberg became a grandmother at the age of 34 when her then-sixteen-year-old daughter gave birth to a daughter, Amara Skye, on Goldberg’s birthday.
24. Granddaughter Jerzey followed on 7 February 1995 and grandson Mason on 28 September 1998.
25. Goldberg became a great-grandmother on March 15, 2014, when her granddaughter gave birth to a daughter named Charli Rose Burr-Reynaud.
26. Goldberg 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.
27. She states that she smoked marijuana before accepting the Best Supporting Actress award for Ghost in 1991.
28. Goldberg has dyslexia.
39. 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.
40. Her admixture test indicates that she is of 92 percent sub-Saharan African origin and of 8 percent European origin.
41. Goldberg has received two Academy Award nominations, for The Color Purple and Ghost, winning for Ghost.
42. She is the first African American to have received Academy Award nominations for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.