Whoopi Goldberg - Famous and Successful Despite Migraines

Patient Expert

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.

Ms. Goldberg's has had television roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation; the sitcom Soap dish; was a frequent guest on Hollywood Squares, and had a late night talk show called The Whoopi Goldberg Show. Whoopi is currently a moderator on the daytime talk show The View.

Ms. Goldberg was the executive producer of Strong Medicine, a series on Lifetime Television. One episode of that show included a story line about an artist who had Migraine Disease. Teri Robert commented on that episode:

"That episode of Strong Medicine that dealt with an artist with Migraine disease was the best, most accurate, and most honest of any television series episodes that I have ever seen. Peter, one of the nurses in the medical practice, was dating an artist who had Migraine with aura. Medications had been prescribed for the artist, but she didn't take them because much of her art was inspired by visual disturbances from her auras. One night, she collapsed with a terrible Migraine attack, and Peter rushed her to the ER. During her follow-up appointment with Dr. Louisa Delgado, "Dr. Lou" explained to her that Migraine is a disease and that she needed to take medications to help prevent her frequent and severe Migraines. She explained to the artist how to take better care of herself and prescribed Inderal for prevention. No television drama episode has ever impressed me as much."

Ms. Goldberg is also an author with several books to her credit, including:

  • "Book"
  • Whoopi's Big book of Manners
  • Sugar Plum Ballerinas (a series of books for children)
  • Alice (for children)

Whoopi Goldberg has a lengthy history with Migraine disease. Leading a busy, hectic lifestyle makes it difficult for anyone to avoid certain things that may trigger a Migraine attack. Included in this list are certain foods, interrupted in sleep patterns, and changes in the weather. Reducing any avoidable triggers (certain foods and sleep issues for example,) and identifying new triggers by keeping a Migraine diary is a good start for new Migraine management plan. Once those triggers are identified, you can work to further reduce the number of Migraines you have.


Whoopi Goldberg. Academy of Achievement. A Museum of Living History Washington, D.C.

Whoopi Goldberg Biography. bio. TrueStory. A&E Television Networks. 2010

Murkerjee, Tunali. "What you can learn from Flailing Stars." 5/25/10

© The HealthCentral Network Last updated June 6, 2010.