Learn about Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg, born 11/13/1955.
Since 1987, the annual Disney Legends Awards have honored the many individuals who have contributed to the success of The Walt Disney Company in some form or another.
Induction into this hall of fame is a major privilege for anyone who’s a big fan of the mouse, and such was the case for actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg. As a lifelong Disney fan, Whoopi was elated when she received the honor of being inducted as a Disney Legend in 2017.
We’re featuring Disney Legends for 16 months in our 2022 Disney World wall calendar. Did you get your order in?
Born Caryn Elaine Johnson, Whoopi has provided her wit and talent to many Disney productions over the years. If you don’t know much about her contributions, here are five facts about Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg that you should know.
Lead photo courtesy of Walt Disney Television
1. A Very Merry Birthday
Whoopi was born in New York City on November 13, 1955. That year may not have significance to most readers, but serious Disney trivia aficionados will recognize that 1955 was the same year that Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California.
Whoopi recognized this fact and pointed it out in her acceptance speech at the D23 Expo in 2017. “I was born the same year the park opened, so I’ve always felt like it was home.”
Although her mother never got to bring her to Disneyland like she’d promised, Whoopi instead was the one to bring her mom to the park once she’d grown up and become successful—which was certainly a special visit for both of them.
2. More Than a Laughing Hyena
Most Disney fans will recall Whoopi’s involvement in The Lion King as her seminal contribution to the house of mouse, but the actress has been involved in many more Disney productions than the 1994 animated classic, The Lion King.
Other voice acting work that Whoopi has done for The Walt Disney Company includes Miss Mittens in Snow Buddies, Stretch in Toy Story 3, and the off-screen voice of Ursula in The Descendants 2.
She made appearances in multiple Muppets movies and shows, including a substantial role as The Boss in the 2002 TV movie It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.
And who can forget Whoopi’s phenomenal comedic performance in the massive hit Sister Act? Yes, Sister Act is actually a Disney production, as it was released through Touchstone Pictures, a distribution label created and owned by The Walt Disney Company.
3. From Watching TV to Starring on It
In her acceptance speech at the D23 Expo, Whoopi shared how she grew up watching The Wonderful World of Disney on her television as a child in the Public Housing Projects of New York City.
I doubt that Whoopi would’ve ever predicted that—40 years later—she’d star in multiple productions for the Walt Disney Company that aired on ABC, including her work on The View.
In 1997, Whoopi portrayed Queen Constantina in the televised production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, where she performed alongside other notable Black entertainers like Brandy and Whitney Houston.
The next year, Whoopi had a starring role in A Knight in Camelot, a made-for-TV comedy in which she’s sent back in time to medieval England. It was the umpteenth adaptation of Mark Twain’s A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, but Whoopi’s sass gave it a memorable charm.
4. The Queen of California
Whoopi Goldberg has an undeniably recognizable voice, and if you visited Disney California Adventure Park between 2001 and 2008, you’ll certainly have heard it.
The actress served as the narrator in the short film “Golden Dreams,” which was shown at Disneyland Resort inside a theater designed like a replica of San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.
Whoopi’s character in the film was the legendary queen of California, Califia, a fictional warrior-ruler who was the inspiration for the state’s name.
5. Close Friends
Even before Whoopi landed those notable roles in Disney productions, the actress was already making friends with Mickey back in 1986.
In case you don’t know about the feat that occurred on May 25, 1986, here’s a recap: Around 7 million people in America joined hands to form a line that stretched from New York City to California.
Hands Across America was organized to raise awareness and funds to fight hunger and homelessness in our country, and the accompanying music video spotlighted the involvement of many celebrities. Among those in the crowd were Whoopi Goldberg and Mickey Mouse, who are seen hand-in-hand.
A multi-talented artist, Whoopi is one of the few people who have earned Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards—the rare EGOT achievement. Of course, looking at her repertoire, it’s no surprise that she’s had such a successful career. Whoopi definitely deserved her Disney Legends Award.
To me, Whoopi Goldberg will forever be Guinan, working the bar at the Ten-Forward lounge aboard the USS Enterprise-D. What’s your favorite Whoopi Goldberg movie or television role?