Happy Birthday Yesterday, dear Whoopi Goldberg!

Aaargh! Yesterday, Novemer 13th, was her Birthday, and I missed it!!! But luckily I wrote about her all right anyway the entire afternoon, and it was a beautiful photo of her that I put up along with my second post about ‘GHOST’, gracing both my blog and my Facebook Timeline with her face, so I didn’t miss her Birthday entirely, I actually honored it without knowing it… The funny thing is, the whole day I kept having the feeling I had to post an article just on her too, as soon as I would be finished with that second one on ‘GHOST’, and I even had already the title of that next post in my mind:

“FROM CELIE TO GUINAN AND ODA MAE”

Celie I have yet to see, in that great Steven Spielberg movie, “The Color Purple’, which earned the young debuting actress a Nomination for the Oscar of the Best Actress,  and instant fame: even Roger Ebert, not usually the critic to lavish actors or films with praise, had only high praise for both in his Review, as the following text from Wikipedia amply shows:

‘Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film four stars, calling it “the year’s best film.” He also praised Whoopi Goldberg, calling her role “one of the most amazing debut performances in movie history” and predicting she would win the Academy Award for best actress. (She was nominated but did not win.) Ebert wrote of The Color Purple:

The world of Celie and the others is created so forcibly in this movie that their corner of the South becomes one of those movie places — like Oz, like Tara, like Casablanca — that lay claim to their own geography in our imaginations. The affirmation at the end of the film is so joyous that this is one of the few movies in a long time that inspires tears of happiness, and earns them.[5]

So I am really eager now to also see ‘The Color Purple’. But since years already I have been enjoying Whoopi Goldberg amazingly versatile acting talent, thanks to the ‘STAR TREK: TNG’ series I have been contentedly watching over and over again, many of its episodes, from the Second Season on, featuring a very special person as the bartender of the ‘Enterprise’ newly created lounge, ‘Ten Forward’, where all the other characters soon come whenever they have the opportunity, either simply to relax, or to seek advice from this exceptional bartender.

That’s one facet of Whoopi Goldberg, and I love it, just as much as I love the other facets shown in her other great films:

Both the world and way of being of Oda Mae in ‘GHOST’ remind me more of the hilarious memories I found about Whoopi  herself when researching her life:

‘Goldberg was born in Manhattan and raised in the Chelsea-Elliot Houses – the daughter of Emma (née Harris), a nurse and teacher, and Robert James Johnson, Jr., a clergyman.[3][4] Goldberg has described her mother as a “stern, strong, and wise woman” who raised her as a single mother after Goldberg’s father had left the family.[5] Goldberg’s recent ancestors migrated north from Faceville, Georgia; Palatka, Florida; and Virginia.[6]

Her stage name, Whoopi, was taken from a whoopee cushion; she has stated that “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.”[7][8] She adopted the traditionally German/Jewish surname Goldberg as a stage name because her mother felt that Johnson was not “Jewish enough” to make her a star.[citation needed] According to an anecdote told by Nichelle Nichols in the documentary film Trekkies (1997), a young Goldberg was watching Star Trek, and upon seeing Nichols’ character Uhura, exclaimed, “Momma! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!”[9] This spawned lifelong fandom of Star Trek for Goldberg, who would eventually ask for and receive a recurring guest-starring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation.’

‘She played a psychic in the 1990 film Ghost, and became the first black female to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years, and only the second black female in Oscar history to win an acting award.[citation needed] Premiere Magazine named her character, Oda Mae Brown, in its list of Top 100 best film characters of all time.[11]’

‘She has admitted publicly to having been a “high functioning” drug addict years ago, at one point being too terrified to even leave her bed to go use the toilet.[54] She states she smoked marijuana before accepting the Best Supporting Actress award for Ghost in 1991.[55][56] Goldberg suffers from dyslexia.[57]’

Goldberg has received two Academy Award nominations, for The Color Purple and Ghost, winning for Ghost. She is the first African American to have received Academy Award nominations for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. She is the recipient of the 1985 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show for her solo performance on Broadway. She has received eight Daytime Emmy nominations, winning two. She has received five (non-daytime) Emmy nominations. She has received three Golden Globe nominations, winning two. She won a Grammy Award in 1985 and a Tony Award as a producer of the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.’

I have kept only the top portion of the huge paragraph enumerating the enormous amount of Awards of all kinds she has received in her very full career, and it is not over…!

All of the above quotes were extracts from Wikipedia; we get the crystal clear feeling that she was a highly appreciated actress already by the year 1987, when the First Season of ‘Star Trek: TNG’ took off on September 28. In 1988, for the Second Season, in the very first episode (The Child), we see for the first time the Enterprise’s lounge, called ‘Ten Forward’, and the remarkable bartender operating there: Guinan. Here is what had happened in between those two dates, told through some other fabulous extracts, this time from the ‘Memory Alpha’ article on Guinan:

‘According to the script for “The Child”, Guinan was pronounced “GUY-nun.” [1]

Guinan was played by Whoopi Goldberg, who was first introduced in the episode “The Child“.

Goldberg got the role after she expressed interest to the producers, being a fan of the original series – mostly due to Nichelle Nichols, one of the first black women to be regularly featured in an American television series. (Trek: The Next Generation Crew Book, Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation)

When Goldberg learned that her friend LeVar Burton got a role on the new Star Trek series, she asked him to tell Gene Roddenberry that she wanted to be on the show too, but the producers thought she was joking and did not take the request seriously. The following year, Goldberg took it upon herself to contact Roddenberry directly. (Trek: The Next Generation Crew Book) According to Roddenberry, Goldberg called him up and said “I am a Star Trek fan, I was a Star Trek fan long before I was ever Whoopi Goldberg and I’m wondering if there’s some part I can play in your show?” (The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation To The Next) According to Maurice Hurley, Roddenberry and Hurley thought this was a joke of Goldberg and asked her if she would really work on The Next Generation and Goldberg replied “I am successful now and I can do what I like!” (TNG Season 2 DVD special feature “Mission Overview Year Two “Whoopi Goldberg””)

Roddenberry had originally intended the Enterprise‘s bartender to be played by “the most beautiful girl in all creation.” (Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special) When Whoopi Goldberg asked him for a role in his new Star Trek show, he gave it to her and re-wrote the character in the process. (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’: The Multicultural Evolution of Star Trek, Heidelberg: Winter, 2004)

Guinan was named for Texas Guinan, a famed female saloon owner from Texas during the early 20th century. (Star Trek Encyclopedia; Whoopi Goldberg, “Mission Overview Year Three – Guinan Returns”, TNG Season 3 DVD special feature) Goldberg described Guinan as primarily “a cross between Yoda and William F. Buckley,” but admitted that she put a lot of her own personality into the character as well. (Trek: The Next Generation Crew Book)

Regarding Guinan’s taste for large hats,

Q and Guinan (2366)

the first time she is seen without a hat is on the fencing court in “I Borg“; the first time she is seen without headgear of any kind is in Star Trek Generations. (When in Human costume, or disguise, in “Clues” or “Time’s Arrow“, she has always accessorized with an era-appropriate hat.)

Guinan and Data (1893)

Guinan describes thus her work and role aboard the ‘Enterprise’:

My name is Guinan. I tend bar, and I listen.
– Guinan, 2368 (“Ensign Ro“)

Guinan was the mysterious bartender in Ten Forward, the lounge aboard the USS Enterprise-D. She was well known for her wise counsel, which had proven invaluable many times. She was an El-Aurian, a race of “listeners” who were scattered by the Borg. Q, however, once hinted that there is far more to her than could be imagined.’

Indeed, she wasn’t only bartending and listening, she also spoke, usually briefly, but quite effectively, and sometimes she surprised with an utterly unexpected action, showing her incredible inner strength and determination, like with Q or in another challenging situation aboard the spaceship and the part of it she was responsible for; see rather this photo:

Guinan (2367)

Here the mischievous smile on her face makes me irresistibly think of her as Oda Mae Brown, the enormously funny role she played so beautifully in 1990 for ‘GHOST’; and yet, also in that film, especially towards the end, one could see on the contrary the serene, wise and loving face of Guinan…

I hope this enthusiastic little article of mine about Whoopi Goldberg will make many of my visitors go visit in turn those excellent major articles I have used extracts and photos from; my thanks to those other, specialized sites… and to Whoopi herself, just for being the many-facetted, fascinating and wonderful human being that she is.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bhaga
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 12:48:17

    I hope my choice of extracts from those two major articles on Whoopi doesn’t end up shocking my readers too badly…! What I picked up was mostly because it was so funny and showed how lively a person she could be a real life too.

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  2. dykewriter
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 16:33:29

    Her autobio was a good read.

    The Color Purple is a movie that’s been part of my recovery process.

    I was telling another pal that the scene at the fence happened in my family, but my great-grandmother went back in the house. My grandmother was one of the first women to get divorce in Canada. so it took a generation.

    Too bad Spielberg pulled the punches and went for the easy targets.

    He really betrayed the book by soft peddling on Celie and Shug. but that’s a blog post on my blog LOL http://dykewriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/rules-of-writering-sex-scenes/

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  3. dykewriter
    Nov 15, 2013 @ 16:34:17

    Like

    Reply

  4. allen993
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 23:56:49

    I Cannot Believe That Our Whoopi Goldberg Is Already 59 And It Is Her Lucky Day
    To Be Special On Her Birthday And It Will Be Lots Of Happy Wishes!

    Happy 59th Birthday, Miss Whoopi!!! May Yiour Future Be Filled With God’s Loving
    Promises To Fulfill Your Dreams?

    Like

    Reply

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