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By Thomas Tennant Whoopi was born Caryn Elaine Johnson on Nov.

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Like most young actors, her dreams of performing where buoyed by day (and night) jobs as a bank teller, in construction and as a mortuary worker.During early performances, Whoopi went by the stage name Whoopee Cushion.In 2006, she told , “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 cam from.”Whoopi's mother convinced her to change her stage name to Goldberg, and shortly thereafter, she made one of her first film appearances, in an art film titled , Penny Marshall’s directorial debut.She followed that with a slew of similarly themed comedies, most of which fell flat with audiences.

Taking time off from film to concentrate on her comedy, Whoopi, with fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, spearheaded “Comic Relief,” an entertainment charity telethon to raise awareness about homelessness, similar to Bob Geldof’s rock and roll “Live Aid.”Whoopi returned to film with a dramatic turn in .That role won her an Academy Award – only the second African-American woman in history to do so.Her renewed acting career saw her take roles on TV (as the ages old wise bar matron Guinan in the critically acclaimed was sown in 2006, when Whoopi debuted her morning radio talk show, “Wake Up with Whoopi”.The program showcased Whoopi’s ability to interview guests and talk about current events in a light-hearted and irreverent way.After Rosie O’Donnell left in June 2007, Whoopi began a run of guest host spots on the program.The increasing frequency of her guest turns was the first suggestion that Whoopi was seriously considered to fill Rosie’s vacant seat.