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Whoopi Goldberg - Famous and Successful Despite Migraines

by Nancy Harris Bonk

Many famous people live and work with Migraines, including actress, comedienne, author, and producer Whoopi Goldberg.

On November 13, 1955, Caryn Elaine Johnson, aka Whoopi Goldberg, was born in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Caryn and her younger brother Clyde were raised by their mother Emma in the projects. Emma often juggled several jobs to make ends meet. Caryn was only eight when she made her stage debut at the Helena Rubinstein Children's Theatre at the Hudson Guild.

While growing up, school was difficult for Whoopi. She was the brunt of many cruel jokes about being "dumb" because she had difficulty reading. Her teachers at school knew she wasn't "dumb." They were certain she had some sort of learning problem they couldn't identify. At 17, Whoopi dropped out of high school. Not until later in life did she learn she had dyslexia.

By the time she was 19, she'd already been married, divorced, struggled with drug addiction, and had a daughter. In 1974, Whoopi moved to California and started doing improvisational theater. It is during this time when she felt her name; Caryn Elaine Johnson, was just too ordinary. This is when Whoopi Goldberg was "born." Ms. Goldberg was performing stand-up comedy and began touring her one-woman theatrical show, The Spook Show. This production garnered plenty of critical attention from important people as far away as New York City, and she was offered the opportunity to take The Spook Show on Broadway in 1984.

In 1985, her leading role in The Color Purple won her a Golden Globe and her first Oscar nomination. This seemed to open new doors for her in the film industry. Whoopi went on to work in other movies such as Jumping Jack Flash, Ghost, Clara's Heart, The Long Walk Home and Sister Act. By the time Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit came out, she was the highest paid actress in history. Ms. Goldberg has won every major honor in the entertainment industry - an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award. She was presented the Mark Twain Award for American Humor at the 2001 Kennedy Center Awards. 

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