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Whoopi Goldberg is a Grammy-Award winning comedienne, an actress, a human rights advocate, and TV host of the daytime talk show The View.
Whoopi Goldberg - Ghost (4:05)
An inside look at the life of Whoopi Goldberg as told by Whoopi herself.
After working in stand up comedy, Whoopi Goldberg wanted to try her hand at film acting and was given her first major role by Steven Spielberg in the film "The Color Purple."
At the age of 20 Whoopi Goldberg, then Caryn Johnson, decided to move out to California to try and break into show business.
In 1990 Whoopi Goldberg starred in "Ghost" as Oda Mae Brown, a role for which she won the Academy Award for best Actress in a Supporting Role.
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Actress, comedienne, TV host, human rights advocate. Born Caryn Elaine Johnson on November 13, 1955, in New York City. Goldberg and her younger brother Clyde were raised by their mother Emma in a housing project in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
Goldberg's father abandoned the family, and her single mother worked at a variety of jobs--including teaching and nursing--to make ends meet. Goldberg changed her name when she decided that her given name was too boring. She claims to be half Jewish and half Catholic, and "Goldberg" is attributed to her family history.
With her trademark dreadlocks, wide impish grin, and piercing humor, Goldberg is best known for her adept portrayals in both comedic and dramatic roles, as well as her groundbreaking work in the Hollywood film industry as an African-American woman. Goldberg unknowingly suffered from dyslexia, which affected her studies and ultimately induced her to drop out of high school at the age of 17.
In 1974, Goldberg moved to California, living variously for the next seven years in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. At one point during this time, she worked as a mortuary beautician while pursuing a career in show business. During her stay in San Francisco, Whoopie Goldberg won a Bay Area Theatre Award for her portrayal of comedienne Moms Mabley in a one-woman show.
Shortly after receiving this honor, she returned to New York. In 1983, she starred in the enormously popular The Spook Show. The one-woman Off-Broadway production featured her own original comedy material that addressed the issue of race in America with unique profundity, style, and wit. Among her most poignant and typically contradictory creations are "Little Girl," an African-American child obsessed with having blond hair; and "Fontaine," a junkie who also happens to hold a doctorate in literature.
By 1984, director Mike Nichols had moved The Spook Show to a Broadway stage, and in 1985, Goldberg won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for the recording of skits taken from the show. At the same time, she began to receive significant attention from Hollywood insiders. Director Steven Spielberg cast Goldberg in the leading female role of his 1985 production of The Color Purple (adapted from the novel by Alice Walker), a film that went on to earn 10 Academy Award and five Golden Globe nominations. Goldberg herself received an Oscar nomination and her first Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Goldberg's success with The Color Purple launched a highly visible acting career.
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From the early comedy of Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby to the contemporary routines of Steve Harvey, Mo'Nique, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and Dave Chappelle, black comedians have often used their wit to become the voice and face of the African-American experience. These legendary comedians have also set a very high bar—not only for African Americans, but for all comics trying to make it in show business. Learn more about these famous jokesters, from their early days to their comic beginnings, to their side-splitting performances and more.
Black Comedians 33 people in this group
United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors are prominent individuals who volunteer to highlight important areas of the U.N.'s work. Actors, athletes, authors and musicians use their celebrity to raise awareness of the issues faced by victims of poverty, famine, and violence worldwide. Goodwill ambassadors make widely publicized visits to the world's most troubled locales, and make appeals on behalf of their people. Here are some of the stars who use their famous names to promote causes close to their hearts.
U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors 38 people in this group
Taking on topics of politics, entertainment, women's issues and more, female talk show hosts have proven to be every bit as engaging, intelligent, and funny as their male counterparts. Oprah Winfrey's 25-year-reign as the queen of talk is unparalleled, but many other female talk show hosts have come into their own as well, including Tyra Banks, Ellen DeGeneres, Sally Jessy Raphael and Kelly Ripa.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
Female Talk Show Hosts 26 people in this group