- NAME: Whoopi Goldberg
- OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress, Comedian, Talk Show Host
- BIRTH DATE: November 13, 1955 (Age: 58)
- Did You Know?: Whoopi Goldberg is the first woman to host the Academy Awards.
- Did You Know?: In 1991, Whoopi Goldberg became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for best supporting actress in nearly 50 years (following Hattie McDaniel, who won the award in 1940).
- Did You Know?: Whoopi Goldberg is only the second African-American actress to win an Oscar for acting.
- Did You Know?: Whoopi Goldberg is one of only 14 entertainers to have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- Originally: Caryn Elaine Johnson
- AKA: Caryn Johnson
- Full Name: Whoopi Goldberg
- ZODIAC SIGN: Scorpio
Best Known For
Whoopi Goldberg is a Grammy Award-winning comedian, actress and human rights advocate, and longtime television 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, comedian and television host Whoopi Goldberg was born on November 13, 1955, in New York City. In 1983, she starred in a popular play and in 1985 won a Grammy Award for the recording of skits taken from the show. Also in 1985, Goldberg's success with The Color Purple launched a highly visible acting career. Since then, she has appeared in more than 80 film and TV productions.
"I am the American Dream. I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. It said, 'You could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country.' That's exactly what I've done."
"We're born with success. It's others that point out our failures and what they attribute to us as failure."
"If you have a concern about gay marriage, don't marry a gay person."
"It's a lot of work just being human. You add celebrity on top of that it's like living 45 lives."
"Taking action is hard, but you know what? Enduring a bad situation can be it's own hell."
"We forgive sometimes, and sometimes we don't. One thing that's consistent is, at least in the early going, we love to punish and we need to find a villain."
"I don't have pet peeves; I have whole kennels of irritation."
"Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine."
"Things happen to you out of luck, and if you get to stick around, it's because you're talented."
"I used my imagination to make the grass whatever color I wanted it to be."
Famed actress, comedian, television host and human rights advocate Whoopi Goldberg was 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 Awards and five Golden Globe nominations. Goldberg herself received an Oscar nomination and her first Golden Globe Award (best actress).
Goldberg's success with The Color Purple launched a highly visible acting career.
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Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
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