Whoopi Goldberg Will Not Shut Up Thank You Very Much

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On a recent summer afternoon, Whoopi Goldberg led me to her backyard so I could see her plants. Goldberg, a native New Yorker, lives in New Jersey, in a gated community previously inhabited by Thomas Edison and the Colgate family, of toothpaste fame, which means her garden is measured not in yards but in acres. In the greenhouse there was a pineapple plant, grown from cutting off the top of the fruit; around the corner were the vegetables — tomatoes, green peppers, eggplants. Not that she eats them, she said, but they’re nice to have around. In one corner of the yard, flowers in Crayola shades grew next to a small sign: Emma’s Garden, named for her mother. Clusters of grapes dripped from gnarled vines, and garden gnomes stood watch all over the place. As we meandered, I joked that I felt as if I were in the Garden of Eden, and I asked her if she ever felt like God. “Well, yeah,” she responded matter-of-factly, “but I’ve played God so often that it’s sort of understandable that I would.”

As with the Lord herself, Goldberg appears to everyone in a different way. Someone who has found her through “The Color Purple” or “Ghost” or “Sister Act,” her three best-known films, believes her to be a bona fide movie star with hazardous levels of charm. A person who recognizes her from the list of 17 people who have an EGOT — an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — probably knows that her roles swing from the very good to the shockingly bad, her résumé stacked with weighty achievements but even more blunders. A person who thinks: Whoopi Goldberg? You mean that surly lady on my TV in the morning? That is a regular watcher of “The View,” the daytime talk show that Goldberg has moderated for 15 years. And the person who considers Goldberg an unrecognized genius who has managed a one-of-a-kind, first-of-its-sort, decades-long career with dreadlocks on her head, no eyebrows on her face and her foot in her mouth? She knows Goldberg has actually played God only twice, but isn’t about to correct her.

Though Goldberg, somewhat famously, loves living alone — a 2016 interview with her, published in this magazine, went viral for Goldberg’s assertion that, after three marriages, she knows she doesn’t “want somebody in my house” — she had rare houseguests that June afternoon. Alex Martin Dean, her daughter, and Dean’s children streamed in and out of the kitchen, draping themselves over one another as they stood around the kitchen island, bare except for a box of Popeyes and a script for “Harlem,” the Amazon TV show in which Goldberg has a small role. One of the grandchildren, Amara Skye, who had recently completed her celebrity-relative tour of duty and filmed a reality show, waved hello. (Called “Claim to Fame,” it was a show in which 12 relatives of celebrities moved into a house and had to guess their opponents’ family connections.) Skye’s daughter, Goldberg’s great-grandchild, Charli Rose, was around somewhere, watching TV. Tom Leonardis, the president of Goldberg’s production company, milled between rooms, finalizing travel plans.

Despite indications toward cliché (have you heard the one about the old unmarried woman who lives alone with her cat?), Goldberg is perennially cuddly. Her skin is smooth, her cheeks juicy like a baby’s, even at 66. She lives every day like the Sabbath: When she’s not working, she told me, she sits around her mansion, moving from one room to another. Those rooms have the overstuffed charm of an antiques shop but the orderliness of the Met, with a dash of celebrity-bus-tour glamour. In the foyer stands a bowling pin painted with the image of Deloris Van Cartier, her character in “Sister Act”; a white grand piano covered in framed family portraits dominates her living room. On each floor of her house, there is a different photograph of Goldberg with the Dalai Lama.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/magazine/whoopi-goldberg.html