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The Rise And Epic Collapse Of Whoopi Goldberg

Years ago, Whoopi Goldberg quickly proved she was more than just a goofy stage name.

The woman born as Caryn Johnson uncorked an off-Broadway show in the early 1980s that snagged the attention of Hollywood’s biggest talents. Goldberg forced us to take her seriously, even while her broad grin made us smile while confronting serious issues of the day.

Whoopi Goldberg went from a lark to a household name in record time. That’s talent.

Today, given her reign on television’s factually challenged series, “The View,” and some wildly ignorant takes, she’s just another out-of-touch celebrity. That comedy rebel who charmed us all seems like a distant memory.

Her formative years resembled the American dream brought to glorious, imperfect life. Goldberg grew up poor and without a father for part of her childhood. She had a spark though, changing what she saw as a dull name to Whoopi Goldberg and hitting California to start a show business career. 

She worked some odd jobs along the way, including a gig as a mortician’s make-up artist, but her comic gifts couldn’t be denied. Her off-Broadway program, “The Spook Show,” drew the attention of famed Hollywood director Mike Nichols.

“You got something kid,” and he was right.

The duo teamed for “Whoopi Goldberg,” the Broadway production that served as her Hollywood coming out party. The one-woman event caught Steven Spielberg’s attention, and he cast Goldberg in 1985’s “The Color Purple.”

A star, as they say, was born. Goldberg missed out on an Oscar for her bravura turn in that Alice Walker adaptation, but it opened all the necessary doors in Tinsel Town. She headlined several ‘80s comedies from there, like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1986) and “Fatal Beauty” (1987) before flexing her dramatic skills via “Clara’s Heart” (1988) and “The Long Walk Home” (1990).

Her serio-comic turn in 1990’s “Ghost,” one of the decade’s biggest hits, snagged her the Oscar many thought she was denied five years earlier.

Goldberg did it all from there, raising cash via the long-running “Comic Relief” fundraising series, anchoring her own comedy franchise (“Sister Act”) and proving versatile enough to be a constant Hollywood presence.

And then came “The View.”

Barbara Walters’ vision of a show where women led the way had entrenched itself in TV lore by the time Goldberg joined the show in 2007. Her show business legacy secure, “The View” allowed her to share her background, her wisdom, with TV audiences five days a week.

She replaced the combustible Rosie O’Donnell as the show’s moderator, bringing some stability with her. One of pop culture’s few EGOT personalities – she owned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award – offered something unique to the talk show. 

Goldberg’s de factor liberalism made her a snug hit for “The View’s” ideological bent, but she rarely held her co-hosts’ feet to the fire when necessary.

And, at times, it seemed her common-sense veneer was just a mirage. Perhaps her most outrageous commentary involved disgraced director Roman Polanski. The auteur behind “Chinatown” had drugged and raped a girl in 1975 and never fully paid for his actions. 

Polanski admitted to the incident, fleeing the country rather than facing the consequences.

Goldberg, deep into a conversation about the matter during a 2009 “View” episode, described the assault as different than “rape-rape,” despite all the evidence to the contrary.

“I know it wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like, ‘You know what, this guy’s going to give me a hundred years in jail. I’m not staying.’ So that’s why he left.”

Had those comments happened following the #MeToo revolution, she might have been given her walking papers. Instead, it was back to work as usual.

At times, Goldberg still sounded like her old self, someone who understood the value of free speech for her craft. When Debra Messing and Eric McCormack suggested they wanted Trump-supporting artists to be outed, and discriminated against, Goldberg lashed out at the “Will & Grace” duo.

In recent years, though, Goldberg echoed her far-Left co-hosts. Even worse? The wackier the show became, the more Goldberg allowed the conversations to run off the rails. 

As the de-facto leader, Goldberg couldn’t get her fellow hosts to stop talking over each other, for starters. 

Goldberg also didn’t give conservative co-host Meghan McCain much protection during the latter’s four-year run. In fact, the two would often spar, on air, in ways that seemed inappropriate for a show meant to elevate women in media.

The Oscar winner had once tied McCain’s father to the return of slavery … to the Senator’s face.

“Did you say you wanted strict constitutionalists? Should I worry about being a slave? A return to slavery? Because there are things in the Constitution that (should have changed.)”

You could argue Goldberg’s downright spiral intensified during the Trump years. A recent exchange found her describing the Republican party in ways that should shame any professional broadcaster.

Not Goldberg, apparently.

“This is part of the big plan to control what happens in America, I believe,” Goldberg said of the GOP. “You take those voting rights away, people are gonna be so angry, but there will be nothing they can do about it because we’re in charge. Next thing comes the women. We’re gonna take your rights away, just like we’re taking X, Y and Z, because they’ll be nothing you can do.”

Crazed. Conspiratorial. Fact-free. Talk about misinformation.

And then she uncorked her not so hot take on the Holocaust, which marked the very worst moment of her “View” tenure. The extermination of 6 million Jews under Adolf Hitler, Goldberg said, “was not about race.”

The comments quickly rocked the news cycle, and Goldberg sent out a swift mea culpa.

“On today’s show, I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man.’ I should have said it is about both.”

Yet she attempted more damage control on the far-Left “Late Show” with Stephen Colbert and violated the first rule of holes.

She kept digging.

“Most of the Nazis were white people and most of the people they were attacking were white people …  So to me, I’m thinking, ‘How can you say it’s about race if you are fighting each other?’ This wasn’t – I said – this wasn’t racial. This was about white on white.”

ABC suspended her for two weeks following the disastrous apology tour.

A new Daily Mail report doused more kerosene on the cultural fire, unearthing a 1990s faux recipe Goldberg submitted to a cookbook dubbed “Jewish American Princess Fried Chicken.” The Anti-Defamation League dubbed the submission “insulting” and “anti-Semitic.”

As of last year, Goldberg had little interest in leaving “The View.” Now? Reports say the suspension wounded her deeply and she’s mulling an earlier than expected exit.

That might be for the best. Goldberg should try re-igniting the comic spark that once burned so brightly. Sticking with “The View” means audiences will be laughing at her, not with her.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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