“Bits and Pieces” of Whoopi Goldberg

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Whoopi Goldberg has been in the spotlight for four decades. Today, what she craves is a quiet spot in the sun. She’s found a vacation home – and tranquility – on the Italian island of Sardinia.

“Lots of people just need some place they can go and just ‘Aaaaaaaaah,’” she said. “The more I wrote about my mom, I thought, I would’ve loved to have given this to her. Same with my brother.”

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Comedian, actress and memoirist Whoopi Goldberg, with correspondent Seth Doane, at her retreat on the island of Sardinia. 

CBS News


She’s been thinking a lot about her mother, Emma, and brother, Clyde, who’ve both passed away. They’re subjects of Goldberg’s new memoir, “Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me,” which is out this week. 

In the book she paints her childhood – growing up as Caryn Johnson in a housing project in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood – as pretty idyllic. “It was; I was very lucky,” she said. “For me it was a great time, to be able to have the freedom with a mother who really just said, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to figure some of this out for yourself. I can’t give you all of the answers.'”

Her mom was a teacher, and when the young Caryn dropped out of school, she made a pact with her mom to use the city’s museums and libraries to keep learning. “You know, a lot of folks had two parents; I only had one,” said Goldberg. “And that parent acted like 900 people, you know? She never made it about what we didn’t have; she made it about what we did have, and how to celebrate that.”

Goldberg started acting on stage, got to Broadway, and landed an Oscar nomination for her first major film role, “The Color Purple.” For a period, it’s said she became the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, with hits like “Sister Act.”

She says her mom also had a talent for acting, like when Marlon Brando stopped by: “My mother would turn into the ‘other Emma,'” Goldberg said. “She came in, and I got up specifically to say as she’s coming towards us, ‘Don’t be freaked out. That is Marlon Brando sitting on the couch.’ But I couldn’t — all I could say was, ‘Hey, Ma, come meet Marlon Brando who came to visit us.’ And she just went like: ‘Mis-ter Bran-do.’ Wait, wait, who are you?”

Patrick Swayze wanted her to play a psychic in “Ghost,” for which Goldberg won an Oscar.


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Add to that Oscar, two Emmys, a Grammy, and a Tony, making her one of just about 20 people with EGOT status.

Her book chronicles the start of her career, and does not hold back, detailing problems with drugs, going on welfare, and learning marriage is not for her, after three tries.

Doane asked, “Are you still in love with the idea of being in love, or that’s just gone?”

“I think other people seem to sparkle when they’re in love, and I like to see that,” she said. “But for me, it’s like, I sparkle when I’m not in love, which is kind of okay. And the older I get, the happier I am.

“And so just in case, and I’m directing this to folks who may want to write me on the internet, here’s the deal: I know how cute I am. So, you don’t have to tell me I’m not attractive enough to have a boyfriend. Because, shockingly, I’ve had many!”

“Are you always as confident as you seem?”

“I’m very confident,” Goldberg said. “But I’m also confident in the fact that I make gigantic mistakes, and step in lots of poo along the way.”

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On “The View,” the talk show she’s co-hosted for 16 years, Goldberg made a remark about the Holocaust which she says was misunderstood. She apologized, but ABC suspended her for two weeks in 2022.

Doane asked, “When you look back at that Holocaust comment on ‘The View,’ the one that you were suspended for, do you regret that?”

“I’m in a quandary at how to answer that,” she said, “because people are waiting for me to say something. I said what I had to say, and they suspended me. I respected what they said. I respected everybody’s opinion. And if anyone’s ever really interested [in what I said] in its entirety, they can look it up. But I will not put myself in that position again.”

She’s been a long-time advocate on a range of issues, often using the show as a platform. But in Sardinia, she can detach from the world. She motors through audiobooks (she has about 9,000 of them), and sometimes just … sits. 

Overlooking her peninsula, Doane asked, “Oh my gosh, how do you ever leave?”

“Very reluctantly!” she laughed.

She dreams of finding a way to spend six months a year in Sardinia. “I’m ready to not be scrutinized quite as tightly as I am,” she said. “And I think the further away I get from opinion television, the easier it might be for a while.”

At 68 years old, and a great-grandmother, Whoopi Goldberg’s trailblazing journey has been one of re-invention and determination. She calls herself “a singular kind of person,” and says she was well-equipped – starting with those lessons from her mom in that two-bedroom apartment in New York. It makes her perch in Sardinia all the more impressive.

“It’s the end of a peninsula,” she said. “I mean, I come from the projects. I got a peninsula! This is a long way from Chelsea!”

      
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Story produced by Aria Shavelson. Editor: Remington Korper. 

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