Goldberg, Whoopi (1949–)
Goldberg, Whoopi (1949–)
African-American actress. Name variations: Caryn Elaine Johnson. Born Caryn Elaine Johnson on Nov 13,1949, in New York, NY; dau. of Robert James Johnson (preacher) and Emma Johnson; abandoned by father and raised by mother; sister of Clyde K. Johnson (personal driver for Goldberg); m. Alvin Martin (drug counselor), 1973 (div. 1979); David Claessen (director of photography), 1986 (div. 1988); m. Lyle Trachtenberg (union organizer), 1994 (div. 1995); children: Alexandrea (Alex) Martin (actress).
Stand-up comic, actress and activist, began appearing on stage at 8 with the Hudson Child Guild and Helena Rubinstein's Children's Theatre; had bit parts on Broadway in Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar; headed West (1975); appeared in Brecht's Mother Courage and Marsha Norman's Getting Out while honing comedic skills with improv group Spontaneous Combustion; moved to San Francisco and joined improv group Blake Street Hawkeyes; began appearing in one-woman show, changing characters in rapid succession, which caught the eye of director Mike Nichols, who brought it to Broadway (1984–85); made film debut in The Color Purple (1985), winning Golden Globe Award and Oscar nomination for Best Actress; won Grammy for Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway (1985); an activist for many causes, often focuses on children's issues, homelessness, human rights, substance abuse and AIDS; co-founded "Comic Relief " with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams (1985) to raise money for the homeless; films include Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), The Telephone (1988), Ghost (1990), for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, The Player (1992), Sister Act (1992), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), Boys on the Side (1995), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), The Deep End of the Ocean (1999), Rat Race (2001), Pauly Shore Is Dead (2004) and Racing Stripes (2005); on tv, was a regular on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (early 90s) and starred in "The Whoopi Goldberg Show" (1994, 1996); became 1st woman to host Academy Awards (1994); won Tony Award as producer of musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002). Won 2 Emmy Awards (1991, 2001), 2 Golden Globe Awards (1985, 1990), BAFTA Award (1990), multiple NAACP Image Awards, Women in Film's Crystal Award (2001) and Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (2001).
See also William Caper, Whoopi Goldberg: Comedian and Movie Star (Enslow, 1999).