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The show was retitled Whoopi Goldberg for its Broadway incarnation, ran from October 24, 1984, to March 10, 1985, for a total of 156 performances; the play was taped during this run and broadcast by HBO as Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway in 1985.Goldberg's Broadway performance caught the eye of director Steven Spielberg, who cast her in the lead role of The Color Purple, based on the novel by Alice Walker.Goldberg's breakthrough came in 1985 for her role as Celie, a mistreated woman in the Deep South, in Steven Spielberg's period drama film The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won her first Golden Globe Award.For her performance in the romantic fantasy film Ghost (1990) as Oda Mae Brown, an eccentric psychic, Goldberg won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a second Golden Globe, her first for Best Supporting Actress.In October 1997, Goldberg and ghostwriter Daniel Paisner cowrote Book, a collection featuring insights and opinions.From 1998 to 2001, Goldberg took supporting roles in How Stella Got Her Groove Back with Angela Bassett, Girl, Interrupted with Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, Kingdom Come and Rat Race with an all-star ensemble cast.She played a psychic in the film Ghost (1990) and became the first black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years, and the second black woman to win an Academy Award for acting (the first being Hattie Mc Daniel, for Gone with the Wind in 1940).
Goldberg and Claessen divorced after the poor box office performance of The Telephone, which Goldberg was under contract to star in.So people used to say to me, 'You're like a whoopee cushion.' And that's where the name came from." Henry Louis Gates Jr., in his book In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, found that all of Goldberg's traceable ancestors were African Americans, that she has no known German or Jewish ancestry, and that none of her ancestors were named Goldberg.Results of a DNA test, revealed in the 2006 PBS documentary African American Lives, traced part of her ancestry to the Papel and Bayote people of modern-day Guinea-Bissau.As the 1980s concluded, she hosted numerous HBO specials of Comic Relief with fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.In January 1990, Goldberg starred with Jean Stapleton in the situation comedy Bagdad Cafe. Simultaneously, Goldberg starred in The Long Walk Home, portraying a woman in the civil rights movement.