Caryn Elaine Johnson, best known as Whoopi Goldberg (/ˈhwʊpi/; born November 13, 1955) is an American comedienne, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, author and talk show host.
Goldberg made her film debut in The Color Purple (1985), playing Celie, a mistreated black woman in the Deep South. In 1990, she played Oda Mae Brown, a wacky psychic helping a slain man (Patrick Swayze) save his lover (Demi Moore) in the blockbuster Ghost 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). Goldberg has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards for her work in television. She was co-producer of the popular game show Hollywood Squares from 1998 to 2004. She has been the moderator of the daytime talk show The View since 2007. 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 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 TV 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 starred in Soapdish and had a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Guinan, which she would reprise in two Star Trek movies. 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. Next, she starred in Sarafina!. During the next year, she hosted a late-night talk show, 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, Whoopi appeared in Corrina, Corrina, The Lion King (voice), The Pagemaster (voice), Boys on the Side, and Moonlight and Valentino. Goldberg became the first African-American female to host the Academy Awards in 1994. She hosted the Awards again in 1996, 1999, and 2002. Goldberg released four motion pictures in 1996: Bogus (with Gerard 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 Basset, 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 successful ABC-TV versions ofCinderella, 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 4 Emmys. 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 Jackson and Angela Bassett in the HBO special Unchained Memories, 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.