Born on November 13, 1955 in New York City, New York, Whoopi Goldberg is an actress, host, and comedienne, who is one of the only thirteen people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award – the four major entertainment awards in American show business – signifying her expansive talent. With over 150 films under her belt, for a period in the 1990s, Goldberg was the highest paid actress of all time.
Raised in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, she is the daughter of a clergyman and a nurse and teacher. Her mother raised her when her father left the family. According to an anecdote by Nichelle Nichols, a young Goldberg, upon seeing Nichols’ character Uhura on Star Trek, said, "Momma! There's a black lady on TV and she ain't no maid!" Of course, she would soon land a recurring guest-starring role in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Goldberg burst into scene with Citizen: I’m Not Losing My Mind, I’m Giving It Away, an ensemble by William Farley. She created this one-woman show composed of different character monologues in 1983 called The Spook Show. Upon spotting her, director Mike Nichols offered to bring the show to Broadway, where it ran from October 1984 to March 1985, resulting to 185 sold-out performances. One of those who saw the show was Steven Spielberg, who was on the brink of casting The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. Released in 1986, the film turned out to be a commercial and critical hit, with 11 Oscar nominations including one for Goldberg for Best Actress. She lost, but later bagged the Golden Globe Award.
In 1990, Goldberg played the role of a psychic in Ghost, where she became the first African-American female to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in almost 50 years. This was followed with a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Guinan, a role which she would reprise in two spin-off movies. Her other screen credits include Sister Act, Made in America, and Bogus. She would later be the center square on Hollywood Squares and the new moderator for The View, replacing Rosie O’Donnell.