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As the 1980s concluded, she hosted numerous HBO specials of Comic Relief with fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.In January 1990, Goldberg starred with Jean Stapleton in the situation comedy Bagdad Cafe. Simultaneously, Goldberg starred in The Long Walk Home, portraying a woman in the civil rights movement.She played a psychic in the film Ghost (1990) and became the first black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years, and the second black woman to win an Academy Award for acting (the first being Hattie Mc Daniel, for Gone with the Wind in 1940).Premiere named her character Oda Mae Brown in its list of Top 100 best film characters. During the next year, she hosted a late-night talk show titled The Whoopi Goldberg Show and starred in two more motion pictures: Made in America and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.Goldberg's breakthrough came in 1985 for her role as Celie, a mistreated woman in the Deep South, in Steven Spielberg's period drama film The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won her first Golden Globe Award.

The film was a modest success, and during the next two years, three additional motion pictures featured Goldberg: Burglar (1987), Fatal Beauty (1987) and The Telephone (1988).

She has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award (EGOT).

She is the second black woman to win an Academy Award for acting.

Goldberg created The Spook Show, a one-woman show composed of different character monologues in 1983.

Director Mike Nichols offered to take the show to Broadway.

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