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Sun, 11.13.1949

Whoopi Goldberg, Media Personality born

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg was born on this date in 1949. She is a Black actor, comedian, and television Talk Show, host.

She was born Caryn Elaine Johnson and raised with her brother Clyde by her mother in a housing project in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, New York.  She began acting at the age of 8 in children's plays with the Hudson Guild Theatre.   Dyslexic, in the late 1960s, she dropped out of the New York School for the Performing Arts to become a hippie. She also worked in choruses with various musicals.  She married, had a daughter, and developed a heroin habit.  In the 1970s she divorced, kicked her drug habit, and moved to southern California.

In San Diego, she became one of the founding members of the San Diego Repertory Theatre. She also worked with an improv theatre group called Spontaneous Combustion.  It was during this time that Johnson changed her name to Whoopi Goldberg. She had moved to Berkeley in the late 1970s and began performing with the Blake Street Hawkeyes Theater.  She also worked as a bricklayer, a bank teller, and a mortuary cosmetologist.  It was in Berkeley that she began performing monologues that would become The Spook Show. It toured Europe and the United States and performed in New York City as part of the New York Dance Theatre Workshop in 1983.

It was here that Goldberg caught the eye of stage and screen director Mike Nichols. He helped Goldberg put together a one-woman show for Broadway which actually began in Berkeley.  Called Moms, the one-woman play was co-written by Goldberg and Ellen Sebastian.  In 1984, she returned to New York to perform The Spook Show now renamed Whoopi Goldberg.

In 1986, Goldberg, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams began hosting Comic Relief to raise money for the home" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." In addition to her film, stage, and television work, Goldberg has also written a children's book, "Alice," and an autobiography titled "Book." Goldberg has starred in numerous films including "The Color Purple," one of her signature cinematic performances.  In 1988, Goldberg also performed in "Clara's Heart."

Her attempt at sitcoms failed with the short-lived series Baghdad Cafe, but she did find greater television " Around the same time, Goldbergs won acclaim for "The Long Walk Home" (1989), and then played an eccentric con artist possessing unexpected psychic powers in the 1990 hit "Ghost." Goldberg's funny yet moving performance earned her her first Oscar and the widespread opinion that this marked her comeback performance.  The award at the time made her only the second Black woman to win an Oscar. After a couple of missteps, Goldberg scored again with the 1992 hit comedy "Sister Act." Nominated for Golden Globes and two NAACP awards, the film spawned mass ticket sales and an unsuccessful 1993 sequel, "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit."

Meanwhile, Goldberg also continued her television work with a 1992 late-night talk show, A laid-back affair, it was praised by critics but failed to secure high ratings and went on permanent hiatus after only six months. However, Goldberg continued to appear on TV with her recurring role as a Comic Relief co-host and as an MC for the Academy Awards ceremony, a role she reworked multiple times.  At the same time, Goldberg continued to work in film, doing both comedy and drama and experiencing the obligatory highs and lows.

Some of her more memorable roles included "Made in America" (1993), "Boys on the Side" (1995), "The Associate" (1996), "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (1998), and "The Deep End of the Ocean" (1999). In addition, Goldberg also appeared in two notable documentaries, "The Celluloid Closet" (1995), and "Get Bruce!"

She is one of the very few people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award.  In 1990, she became the second Black female performer after Hattie McDaniel to win an Academy Award for acting. Goldberg has appeared in over 150 films, and in 1999, she received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Vanguard Award for her continued work in supporting the LGBT community.  She has been nominated for five American Comedy Awards with two wins.  In 2001, she won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. She also hosted the Oscars in 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2002. Goldberg wrote Book in October 1997, a collection of stories from her past and opinions. She is a strong supporter of abortion rights.

Goldberg appeared in TV ads as a spokeswoman for Slim Fast diet shakes, but the company dropped her in July 2004 after she made crude comments about President George W. Bush's last name during a Democratic fund-raiser at New York's Radio City Music Hall. For the 2006 PBS program African American Lives, she had her DNA analyzed and discovered that she is likely descended from the Pepel and Bayote people of Guinea-Bissau.

She is a self-described advocate for Dyslexia research.  In May 2006, Clear Channel announced that Whoopi Goldberg would be hosting her own syndicated radio show titled Wake Up with Whoopi 2006. She has also been a co-host for the daytime TV show The View.

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