Today, Whoopi Goldberg is best known as the quick-witted moderator on The View, but this multitalented entertainer has been a household name for more than 25 years. Whoopi has acted in more than 50 movies, hosted the Academy Awards® four times, written best-selling books and made millions of people laugh around the world.
In 1991, Whoopi also made history when she took home the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress for her role as psychic Oda Mae Brown in Ghost. Whoopi was the second African-American woman to receive this honor, and she's one of only four women who've won an Oscar, Emmy®, Grammy® and a Tony®.
Whoopi got her big break in the '80s when she landed the starring role in The Color Purple and touched moviegoers' hearts as Celie, the film's oppressed heroine. This performance earned her her first Oscar nomination.
While filming The Color Purple, Oprah and Whoopi met for the first time and became friends, but they haven't spoken to each other in many years. Was there a feud? Today, they're sharing the real story for the first time.
In the summer of 2010, Oprah and Whoopi met once again at Hollywood producer Tyler Perry's home. Oprah describes their chance meeting in Tyler's kitchen as a divine moment. "I'm going to try not to cry," Oprah says. "[Whoopi] said: 'Can I just ask you something? Did I do something to you? All these years, we've been disconnected, and I just want to know, did I do something?'"
But Oprah says she always assumed that the opposite was true. "It's crazy," Oprah says. "So I thought: 'You think I'm mad at you? I thought you were mad at me.'"
Whoopi says she always thought Oprah was mad at her because people kept repeating these rumors. "[I] don't say much of everything, and when I do say it, I say it out where everybody can hear it," Whoopi says. "I don't hide my stuff. I don't play that."
Now that their rumored "feud" is settled, Oprah offers advice to anyone dealing with a similar situation. "If there's somebody who you think is upset with you or they think you're upset with them, you should just call them," she says.
Whoopi says her beloved mother, Emma Johnson, used to give her the same advice. "Emma would say: 'You need to call [Oprah]. Find out what's going on,'" she says.
While filming The Color Purple, Oprah says she was struck by the close bond Whoopi had with her mother.
"Over the years, three people I know have had relationships like that—my best friend Gayle, Maria Shriver and her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and you and your mother," Oprah says. "I remember watching you all every day thinking, 'What is that?' It's like you and your mother were in love with each other."
Sadly, in August 2010, Emma passed away after suffering a stroke.
Whoopi says she and her mother talked on the phone every day before her death. "My mom was unlike anybody else that I've known," Whoopi says. "She truly believed that she was okay being herself. She always passed that on to me. She never said bad stuff or mean stuff."
Even though Emma has left this earth, Whoopi says she still feels her mother's presence, which helps her manage her grief. "I keep waiting for that moment where you fall down on the floor and moan and roll around," she says. "But we also know that she'd come back from the dead and go, 'What are you doing?'"
To this day, Whoopi values the lessons her mother taught her, including to be herself and speak her mind. "She always said: 'Not everybody's going to get it. A lot of people are not going to like that you are an individual,'" Whoopi says. "'It's okay to have opinions as long as you don't put down somebody else's opinion.'"
Now, Whoopi gets paid to speak her mind as the moderator of The View. Whoopi says she took this job because, despite her acting accolades, no movie offers were coming in. Careers are like roller coasters, she explains.
"If you're not prepared for it, it can really sort of destroy you," she says. "But I always kind of knew because of the fact that I lasted as long as I did, looking the way I do."
"I say that about myself," Oprah says.
"But it's the truth," Whoopi says. "There hadn't been anyone really [in Hollywood] who looked like us."
In October 2010, Whoopi almost jeopardized her job at The View when she and co-host Joy Behar stormed off the set because of something guest Bill O'Reilly said during the live broadcast.
"[In my head,] I heard myself say something that would have cost me a great deal of money from the FCC," Whoopi says. "[I] knew that if I didn't get off the stage what was coming. I know Bill. I like Bill. I think he just got caught up in that moment and didn't realize that what he had said was too volatile."
After Bill apologized, Whoopi and Joy returned to the stage, but Barbara Walters, the show's co-host and executive producer, wasn't pleased. "Like all of us, she's entitled to her opinion," Whoopi says. "But I feel that that was what I needed to do. ... I don't regret very many things that I've done in my life, because they're my choices."