I saw that November 13th is Whoopi Goldberg's birthday. She will celebrate. I sat next to her just about every week for two consecutive years and I know that she digs a celebration and also digs getting gifts. She still has such a youthful glee about that. I continue to be extremely grateful to her. I continue to hold that she is one of the most underrated acting talents who is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. When's the last time you saw THE COLOR PURPLE? That Steven Spielberg film made her one of the few black women in Hollywood history to be an Oscar nominee for Best Actress. If you haven't seen it lately, you need to see it again. Whoopi Goldberg's performance in it will lay you out. It is one of the best performances delivered by an actor in a Hollywood studio film during the 1980s. It holds up. It is as raw, fresh, poignant and soul-stirring now as it was in 1985.
We didn't have a studio audience and a band for my talk show. We did it live to tape and I wrote and performed it as if it was onstage. That was my choice. When Whoopi came on to be a guest, she was the first guest who noticed that I didn't have an earpiece, a TelePrompTer or cue cards. I had a few notes on the desk and the rest was in my head. I wanted to be in the moment. That impressed her and, man, was I proud of that!
When Whoopi got her own weekday live morning radio show in New York City, a show that aired nationally on 16 stations across the country, she tapped me to be the weekly entertainment contributor and film reviewer. I am still thankful to Whoopi for that opportunity. And, I must admit, going to work and sitting next to a show biz icon as we both did live morning radio was a very surreal experience. It was during our two years of her show that Whoopi became a full-time popular regular on ABC's THE VIEW.
If you can ever find a copy of WHOOPI GOLDERG, DIRECT FROM BROADWAY, I urge you to watch it. Also, THE COLOR PURPLE and GHOST were not the only films in which she slammed across a solid performance. I also recommend these films that often get overlooked when folks talk about their favorite Whoopi Goldberg films:
THE PLAYER (1992). A Robert Altman film. A Hollywood studio executive gets mysterious death threats from a screenwriter whose script he rejected. Tim Robbins plays the executive. Whoopi plays Detective Avery, the cop on the case. The movie is packed with star cameos -- Jack Lemmon, Cher, Bruce Willis, Burt Reynolds and more. Enjoy.
CORRINA, CORRINA (1994). This is a feel-good comedy romance that I love to watch as weekend entertainment. Whoopi plays the maid working for a widower dad with a sweet little girl. Ray Liotta gets to exercise his comedy acting muscles as the lovable dad. He tries to make money writing commercial jingles and, since the death of his wife, he needs help around the house while he's at work. Corrina, the maid, helps the little girl out of her grief. The main thing here is the delicious chemistry between Whoopi and Ray Liotta. In the film, you see that romance quietly starts to bloom between Corrina and Manny (Ray Liotta). But...the year is 1959. When Whoopi and I worked together, I told her that CORRINA, CORRINA should be turned into a Broadway musical.
GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI (1996). A true story and another dramatic film triumph for Whoopi Goldberg. If you saw the movie, THE HELP, a major turning point is when the black characters watch the network news bulletin that Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers had been shot and killed in front of his home. The year was 1963. Years later, with the steely determination of his widow, the racist killer is brought to justice. In GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI, Whoopi plays Myrlie Evers, widow of the slain activist. James Woods is chilling as the cold-blooded racist killer. He got a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance. GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI was directed by Rob Reiner. Alec Baldwin co-stars.
One more thing: Whoopi Goldberg does a terrific lip sync of Judy Garland singing "Come Rain or Come Shine" on her famous Live at Carnegie Hall concert album.
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