In 1974, she moved to California and thereafter lived in various cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It was during this time that she honed her acting skills and developed her talent as a stand-up comedienne.
Her first shot to fame was as a comedienne Mos Mabley in a one-woman show. She won an award for the same.
Soon, thereafter, she returned to New York and started receiving training under acting coach Uta Hagen. Her first ever appearance on screen was for William Farley’s feature, ‘Citizen: I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away’
In 1983, she created, starred and directed the one-woman show, ‘The Spook Show’. The show addressed the issue of race in American but in a unique and innovative style. The show was much liked by the audience.
Following the success of ‘The Spook Show’, she created other off-Broadway productions such as ‘Little Girl’ an African-American child obsessed with having blond hair and ‘Fontaine’ a junkie who also happens to hold a doctorate in literature.
The innovative presentation and sense of wit and style in her shows impressed director Mike Nicholas who offered to take ‘The Spook Show’ to the Broadway. The show which ran for 156 performances, met with much acclaim both commercially and critically. It went on to earn her a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.
The eye-catching performance and amazing positive reception of the show earned her attention of the Hollywood bigwigs. It helped her bag a role in the Steven Spielberg film, ‘The Color Purple’, released in 1985. The movie met with resounding success, clutching 11 Academy Awards nominations and her first Golden Globe award.
‘The Color Purple’ served as the big breakthrough and helped launch her career in a grand way. It was followed with a couple of movies such as ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Burglar’, ‘Fatal Beauty’, and ‘The Telephone’. While all the films were modestly successful, none of them matched the glorious success of her previous venture.
She ended the 1980s decade with ‘Clara’s Heart’ released in 1988 and ‘Homer & Eddie’ in 1989. Both the films were critically successful. Other than films, she also featured in HBO specials of Comic Relief.
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She started the 1990 decade by starring in the sit-com ‘Bagdad Cafe’. Later, she followed this up with ‘The Long Walk Home’ and ‘Ghost’. While in the former she portrayed the role of a woman in civil rights movement, in the latter she played a psychic, a role which earned her, her first Academy Award and second Golden Globe.
She followed this up with the films, ‘Soapdish’, ‘The Player’, ‘Sister Act’, ‘Sarafina!’, ‘Made in America’ and the sequel, ‘Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit’. She was also seen playing Guinan in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ a role which she reprised in two Star Trek movies.
Other than starring in the movies, she launched herself on television with her flagship talk show, ‘The Whoopi Goldberg Show’. The format of the show had her taking one-to-one interview with political VIPs and Hollywood big shots. The show continued for 200 episodes before being terminated.
In 1994, she created history by becoming the first African-American female to host the Academy Awards show. She repeated the feat in 1996, 1999 and 2002.
Around this time, she was seen in numerous films such as ‘Corrina, Corrina’, ‘Boys on the Side’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘Valentino’, ‘Bogus’, ‘Eddie’, ‘The Associate’ and ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’
Other than acting, she also ventured into the world of books and co-wrote a book along with ghostwriter Daniel Paisner titled, ‘Book’. It contained a collection of stories, featuring insights and opinions.
Her 1998 appearance on the celebrity game show, Hollywood Squares earned her two consecutive Emmy Awards.
From 1998 to 2001, she appeared in several supporting roles in ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’, ‘Girl’, ‘Interrupted’, ‘Kingdom Come’ and ‘Rat Race’. Additionally, she appeared in television and film ventures such as ‘The Magic Schoolbus’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘A Knight in Camelot’ and ‘Call Me Claus’
In 2004, she returned to Broadway to star in a self-titled one-woman show.
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Her career zoomed up again in 2007 when she served as the moderator and co-host of daytime talk show ‘The View’. Though the show did not have as big a start as during the time of Rosie O’Donnell, it soon picked up and moved past the latter.
Meanwhile, from August 2006 to March 2008, Goldberg hosted ‘Wake Up With Whoopi’, a nationally syndicated morning radio talk and entertainment program. In the recent years, she has curtailed her acting and has been an active human rights activist.
Lately, she has guest starred as Jane Marsh in the TV series, ‘The Middle’. She also played a role in the independent short film ‘Indecisive’.