Whoopi Goldberg has a lot to brag about. The comedian, talk show host, actress, and activist has a long , including a Tony, Grammy, two Emmys, two Golden Globes, and an Oscar.
Since beginning her career in the mid-70s, Whoopi has garnered roughly 175 acting credits, according to . As a result of all her hard work and success, Whoopi's net worth is quite impressive — it's approximately $45 million, according to . As part of that, her salary from moderating The View is estimated to be $5 million a year.
Well before Whoopi was a huge star, she was just another aspiring actress/comedian trying to make it in Hollywood. And years before that, Whoopi Goldberg was Caryn Elaine Johnson.
Whoopi's early struggles
Whoopi, whose birth name is Caryn, was born on November 13, 1955, in New York City. Whoopi and her older brother, Clyde, were raised by their mom, Emma Harris, according to . Emma enrolled her daughter, then 7 years old, in the Hudson Guild Children's Theater. Despite finding joy through acting, Whoopi as she got older, and went undiagnosed for years. She that her struggles went beyond school. In her teens, Whoopi started using heroin and developed a drug addiction.
"For me, I think it was the times," Whoopi . "It looked cool. This was before the rock stars did it. The beginning of the '60s was a whole different groove. All of my friends from that time are dead, all the people who were doing the same kind of stuff."
Luckily, her friends helped her out of it and so did her drug counselor, Alvin Martin. Whoopi ended up marrying Alvin in 1973 and, in the same year, welcomed their daughter, Alexandrea Martin. Whoopi and Alvin later divorced in 1979.
In the mid-1970s, Whoopi devoted more time to her acting and comedy career, leaving the East Coast for California. She also chose to leave her birth name behind, going for a professional name inspired by her unapologetic farting while performing stand-up.
"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," Whoopi explained to the in 2006. As for "Goldberg," Whoopi's mom thought she'd make it further in Hollywood with a "Jewish surname."
Her first big break
When she arrived in California, Whoopi and her young daughter were short on money. And so, as she told , she had to pick up a few jobs on the side while trying to book theater and stand-up gigs. She ended up becoming a bricklayer because, as she said, she'd "rather lay bricks than lay men." She also took a course in beauty therapy and earned her beautician's license. Specifically, she was tasked with "doing the makeup of dead people."
In the meantime, Whoopi continued working on her acting chops. reports that one of her first notable projects involved touring the country for a one-woman show of character monologues, The Spook Show. There, she established her own unique style and wit. In 1984 acclaimed director Mike Nichols put her show on Broadway — as a result, Whoopi scored a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. This led to instant notoriety and caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who gave Whoopi her first silver screen break.
The Color Purple was only the beginning
In 1985, Whoopi landed her first big role as Celie in . The film was — and Whoopi earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
After that, Whoopi's career skyrocketed. In 1986, Whoopi starred in . In 1988, she and a young Neil Patrick Harris starred together in . Other notable movie credits soon followed: (1989), (1990), and (1990). Whoopi won the 1991 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for playing Oda Mae Brown in . She became the first African American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and .
A new decade brought even more opportunities for Whoopi. In the '90s, Whoopi appeared in , including (1991), (1992), (1993), (1993), (1995), and (1996).
In between all of her movie gigs, Whoopi worked on her stand-up career and ventured into the world of TV. From 1992-93, Whoopi worked on . And in the late '90s, Whoopi was a guest on Maury, The Roseanne Show, , Hollywood Squares and more.
By the time the early 2000s rolled around, Whoopi was well established in the industry and ready to take on even more exciting projects. In 2002, she earned a Tony for producing Thoroughly Modern Millie. Five years later, Whoopi was tapped to go on Barbara Walters's daytime show The View as a co-host — the primary gig that she still has to this day.
The View and beyond
Since joining the morning talk show in 2007, Whoopi has continued to make many guest appearances on TV, published her book, and with Om Edibles medical cannabis brand founder Maya Elisabeth. She's also continued to ramp up her work as . Most recently, she will be appearing in the just-released Tyler Perry flick Nobody's Fool.
Whoopi told that one of her favorite activities is hanging out with Charli Rose, her 4-year-old great-granddaughter. As Charli will discover when she's older, her great-grandma is a pretty darn amazing woman.