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banner Monday, 11 February, 2002, 09:59 GMT
Whoopi returns to centre stage
Whoopi is known for her outrageous Oscars costumes
Whoopi is known for her outrageous Oscars costumes
Actress Whoopi Goldberg returns as the host of the Oscars ceremony for the fourth time after a break of two years. BBC News Online looks at her previous appearances and her career.

The preparations for this year's Academy Awards did not get off to an auspicious start for Whoopi when it was revealed that she had lost the only Oscar statuette she had won.

Whoopi last hosted in the year Roberto Benigni won
Whoopi last hosted in the year Roberto Benigni won
That was for her supporting role in Ghost in 1991 - but she has appeared on stage three other times when compering the ceremony in 1994, 1996 and 1999.

She was asked back because she has "great warmth, wit, humour, humanity and a social conscience" - according to the show's producer Laura Ziskin.

That is despite the fact that her last appearance did not go down well with commentators.

But Goldberg, now 46, can be funny and serious, and her outrageous outfits always give people something to talk about.

Steven Spielberg gave Whoopi her first screen break
Steven Spielberg gave Whoopi her first screen break
She will be the first host in the ceremony's new home, Hollywood's Kodak Theater, and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside the venue.

Her association with Oscar began with her screen debut in 1985 with Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. Her performance as Celie won her a nomination for best actress.

Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in Manhattan and overcame a heroin addiction and a struggling stage career before finding film fame.

The reason for her name change is explained in her autobiography, which she gave the logical name of Book, published in 1997.

"When I was in my 20s and diagnosed with ulcers, I was encouraged to fart up a storm, and my friends started calling me Whoopi," she wrote.

"I was like a walking whoopee cushion, they said."

Success

In the 1980s she came into her own in the theatre with solo shows that led to film offers, the first of which was The Color Purple.

Her most successful spell was in the decade that followed, which saw her show her talent for both comedy and drama in Jumpin' Jack Flash, Fatal Beauty, Ghost, The Long Walk Home and Sister Act.

The to host the awards again is a vote of confidence
To host the awards again is a vote of confidence
Despite starring in other recent films such as In and Out, Rat Race and Girl, Interrupted, she has not had a hit of her own for a number of years.

But she has remained one of the most recognisable and well-known faces in the entertainment world.

With Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, she launched the US Comic Relief in 1986 and has hosted another six Comic Relief TV specials since then.

Other charitable causes to benefit from her efforts include Aids, hurricane relief and the post-11 September telethon.

She has had her own TV talk show, returned to the stage, written children's books and was even a regular guest star in TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation.

She now stars in and produces TV show Hollywood Squares, the US equivalent of Celebrity Squares.

But the Oscars is the biggest stage of all, and her return to the job that can make or break the night shows that Hollywood still holds her in high regard.

See also:

06 Feb 02 | Oscars 2002
Whoopi's Oscar found after theft
17 Oct 01 | Showbiz
Whoopi says laughter is best tonic
02 May 01 | Showbiz
Whoopi scoops humour award
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Links to more Oscars 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Oscars 2002 stories