Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. Her mother, Emma (Harris), was a teacher and a nurse, and her father, Robert James Johnson, Jr., was a clergyman. Whoopis recent ancestors were from Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway. She moved to California and worked with improv groups, including Spontaneous Combustion, and developed her skills as a stand-up comedienne. She came to prominence doing an HBO special and a one-woman show as Moms Mabley. She has been known in her prosperous career as a unique and socially conscious talent with articulately liberal views. Among her boyfriends were Ted Danson and Frank Langella. She was married three times and was once addicted to drugs. Goldberg first came to prominence with her starring role in The Color Purple (1985). She received much critical acclaim, and an Oscar nomination for her role and became a major star as a result.