Whoopi Goldberg
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Biographical information

November 13, 1955


New York City, New York, U.S.

Career information

1981 - present


The Lion King
The Lion King 1½

Whoopi Goldberg (born Caryn Elaine Johnson, November 13, 1955) is an American comedienne, actress, political activist, and currently a talk show host.


Goldberg was born in New York City, New York, USA, as Caryn Elaine Johnson. When she started her career in 1981, she chose Whoopi Goldberg to be her stage name. Her first stage name, Whoopi, was taken from whoopee cushion; she has stated that "If you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go. So people used to say to me, 'You're like a whoopee cushion.' And that's where the name came from."[1] She adopted the traditionally German/Jewish surname Goldberg as her last stage name because her mother felt the original surname of Johnson was not "Jewish enough" to make her a star.[2]

Goldberg's breakthrough film role came with her portrayal of Celie Johnson in Steven Spielberg's 1985 drama, The Color Purple. She earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in this film. She received her second Academy Award nomination for her supporting role as psychic Oda Mae Brown in the 1990 romantic film, Ghost, to which she won became the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress since Hattie McDaniel for her performance in Gone with the Wind.

Four years later, she lent her voice to Shenzi the hyena opposite Cheech Marin whose career partner Tommy Chong dropped out of the project. During production of The Lion King, the animators added some of her features into the character, the same way they did Jeremy Irons with Scar. She reprized her role in The Lion King 1½.

Since then, Goldberg has become a political activist for human rights, and is currently the co-host for the talk show, The View, on ABC replacing Rosie O'Donnell.

Goldberg was named a Disney Legend at the 2017 D23 Expo.


  • Coincidentally, Goldberg starred in a 1992 film titled Sarafina!. Two years later, she starred in The Lion King, who had a character by the same name.

Other Roles

  • Toy Story 3 - Stretch
  • Sister Act - Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence


  1. Solomon, Deborah (August 20, 2006–20 July 30, 2007). Making Nice. The New York Times. Retrieved on June 16, 2011.
  2. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/participant.jsp?spid=72881
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