15 Facts That Most People Don’t Know About Whoopi Goldberg

Whether you came to know Whoopi Goldberg through her stand-up comedy years, her roles across The Color Purple (1986), Ghost (1990), the Sister Act (1992) franchise, or as a current-day co-host of The View, it is universally known that Whoopi has had a long and successful career in Hollywood. What are some lesser known facts about the comedian, actress, and entertainer though? Read on as we break down that Whoopi Goldberg trivia below.

1. She Intentionally Rocks The Brow-Less Look

Photo: Georges Biard / via wikipedia.org / CC BY-SA 3.0

Decades before Kristen Stewart started bleaching her eyebrows, Whoopi set the standard for brow-less looks. The comedian has been shaving her brows off for as long as she can remember. She does so because she doesn’t like any type of facial hair. What’s more interesting is that despite changing styles, Whoopi continues to make it work. 

2. She Was Once A Phone Sex Operator

Photo: New World Pictures/20th Century Fox

Before she got her big break, Whoopi made a lucrative living by working as a phone sex operator. Whoopi revealed her racy past in a segment on The View as she defended herself against her co-host’s presumptive conclusions.

“When I was younger, the money was great. See now, people would know my voice,” she said. 

3. She Admitted To Being High While Accepting Her Ghost Oscar

Photo: Disney|ABC Television Group/CC 2.0

Apparently, Whoopi was a little out of it when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Ghost. The actress admitted to being completely stoned when she accepted the award. Of the incident, Whoopi said:

“Smoking cigarettes and pot every now and then are my habits. And I thought, ‘I’ve got to relax.’ So I smoked this wonderful joint that was the last of my home grown.”

4. She Has Launched Her Own Line Of Medical Marijuana Products

Whoopi is a fierce advocate of medical marijuana. So much so, the actress has launched her own line of medical marijuana products aimed at alleviating menstrual cramps for women. Goldberg founded the project with Maya Elisabeth, a self-proclaimed “canna-businesswoman.”

The company, Maya & Whoopi, offers a variety of products to get rid of menstrual discomfort, including lotions and bubble bath. Whoopi discussed the inspiration behind her line, stating: “For me, I feel like if you don’t want to get high high, this is a product specifically just to get rid of discomfort. Smoking a joint is fine, but most people can’t smoke a joint and go to work.”

5. She Is A Member Of The EGOT Club

Photo: 30 Rock/NBC

Whoopi Goldberg is one of 19 members of the EGOT club. EGOT stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, the four major awards for talents in film, Broadway, television, and music. Whoopi snagged at least one of each award, solidifying her place among some of the greatest performers of all time. If you’re a fan of 30 Rock, you likely remember Whoopi’s guest spot in which she gave Tracy Morgan some advice on how to complete an EGOT.

6. She Has A Fear Of Flying

It took a long, long time for Whoopi to gather the courage to set foot on a plane. For the longest time, Whoopi opted for a bus rather than the convenience of flying. But with the help of a Thought Field Therapy program, which immerses patients in their phobias to counter them, Whoopi conquered her anxieties.

7. She Really Did Get Her Stage Name As A Result Of Whoopie Cushions

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0

Whoopi is not her actual name. Born Caryn Elaine Johnson, Whoopi adopted the stage name after friends jokingly started calling her a whoopie cushion.

According to Whoopi, “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.”

8. She Was The Voice Of Villainous Shenzi

Photo: Lion King/Walt Disney Productions

You probably recognize her voice, but perhaps could not figure out where. Well, Goldberg voiced Shenzi, the leader of Scar’s hyena pack in The Lion King. Whoopi had the perfect sinister, intimidating voice in the film, and proved her voice acting chops in the role.

9. She Has Dyslexia

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC 4.0

Growing up, Whoopi struggled to read and write due to her undiagnosed dyslexia. According to Goldberg, dyslexia wasn’t a well-understood disorder during her youth, causing many to label her “dumb” or “slow.”

Although her dyslexia forced Whoopi out of school and onto welfare, she didn’t let her disability stop her. She is a fierce advocate for assisted education for those who struggle with the learning disability and has been quite vocal about her experiences in order to inspire others.

10. She Once Executive Produced A Transgender Modeling Reality Show

Photo: NBCUniversal / Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0

Whoopi is the executive producer of a reality television show called Strut for Oxygen. The reality series focuses on transgender models in an effort to challenge beauty and gender stereotypes. Goldberg had this to say about the project:

“This show is important right now, because for all of the positive advances the community has made and continues to make, transgender is still a hot-button word that gets people hysterical. People tend to focus on the stereotype instead of the person, and this series will give viewers a unique opportunity to spend time with real people who are struggling with the same challenges we all face as we make our way through the world. You may even be surprised to discover that you have been seeing and interacting with transgender men and women in ways you didn’t even realize.”

11. She Became A Grandmother At 34 Years Old

Goldberg had her daughter, Alex Martin, when she was 17 years old. At 34, Goldberg became a grandmother when her daughter gave birth to Amarah Skye. Her other grandchildren include Jerzey and Mason, boring in 1995 and 1999. Goldberg then became a GREAT-grandmother at age 58. Goldberg’s granddaughter Amarah gave birth to Charlie Rose in 2014.

12. She Was Offered Her Role In The Color Purple After Spielberg Watched Her One-Woman Show

Photo: The Color Purple/Warner Bros.

After Steven Spielberg was advised to catch Whoopi’s one-woman show “The Spook Show,” he instantly became infatuated with her talent. Impressed with Goldberg’s act, Spielberg offered her a role in The Color Purple, for which she went on to receive an Oscar nomination. 

13. She Was The First Woman To Ever Host The Oscars

Photo: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Goldberg was the first solo female Academy Awards host. She later went on to host three more times

14. She Was The Second Black Woman To Ever Win An Oscar For Acting

Photo: Ghost/Paramount Pictures

Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American woman to win an Oscar in the acting field. She won for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind in 1939. It would take another 51 years for a Black woman to win.

That woman was Whoopi Goldberg, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Ghost in 1990.

15. She Has Been Married Three Times

Photo: Sister Act/Buena Vista Pictures/Disney

Whoopi has been married three times. Her ex-husbands were: Alvin Martin, David Claessen, and Lyle Trachtenberg. But the comedian asserts she never truly loved any of them.

“I suppose you have to actually be in love with the person you marry. You have to be committed to them. I don’t have that commitment. I’m committed to my family. No [I wasn’t in love with my husbands]. It’s the truth. I wanted to feel normal and it seemed to me if I was married, I’d have a much more normal life,” she shared.

Whoopi has vowed never to get married again following her three failed relationships.