After Years Of Privacy, Whoopi Goldberg Finally Opens Up About Marriage, Love, And Societal Norms

Whoopi Goldberg broke through Hollywood in 1985. Since then, she’s been a well-known actress. However, while many people know she’s had three divorces, Goldberg has been pretty quiet about why her marriages failed. That is, until now.

In two tell-all interviews on Piers Morgan Tonight and with The New York Times, Goldberg spills the beans on love, marriage, and how she feels about conformity.

Notoriously Private About Her Personal Life

Whoopi Goldberg In
Matthew NAYTHONS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Matthew NAYTHONS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Whoopi Goldberg broke through Hollywood in 1985 with her portrayal of Celie in Steven Spielberg’s film The Color Purple. Even though she has been in the limelight for years, Goldberg is notoriously private about her personal life.

That hasn’t stopped people from poking and prodding, though, especially after three divorces.

Goldberg Was Married Three Times

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

With decades of dodging questions about her personal life, something changed that had the actress speaking about marriage, love, and conforming to societal norms. In two tell-all interviews, Goldberg discusses her three marriages– Alvin Martin, David Claessen, and Lyle Trachtenberg– and what exactly went wrong.

Evidently, the same thing went wrong in each of the three relationships.

Her Interview Was Very Telling

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Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

During her interview with talk show host Piers Morgan, Goldberg discussed her marriages, particularly the timeline of each. The actress said, “The first [marriage] lasted six years. The second one lasted two years. And the last one lasted a year.”

Her comments in the rest of the interview were very telling of her thoughts towards monogamy.

The First Marriage: Alvin Martin

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Karen Bellandi/Pinterest

Starting at the beginning, Goldberg’s first marriage was to Alvin Martin in 1973, a few years before she became famous. During their marriage, they had a daughter, Alex, Goldberg’s only child.

Although they had started a family together, the marriage didn’t last. The couple divorced in 1979. Martin is mostly recognized as being Goldberg’s first ex-husband.

She Flourished Throughout The 80s

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Warner Bros
Warner Bros

After the divorce, Goldberg focused on her acting career, first on Broadway and then making her way to the silver screen. In 1983, she won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album, following a recording of her one-woman Broadway play, Spook Show.

Then in 1985, she broke through Hollywood, stealing the show as Celie in The Color Purple. Goldberg won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her performance.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash Was The Setting Of Her Next Romance

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Throughout the ’80s, Goldberg was steadily pacing her way through Hollywood, landing a few more high-profile roles after showing off her acting chops in The Color Purple. One of the roles she landed was as Terry Doolittle in Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

On the set of that film, she met her second husband, the director of photography David Claessen.

They Divorced After Two Years

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

David Claessen and Goldberg hit it off while on the set of the 1986 film Jumpin’ Jack Flash and wound up getting married later that very same year. Alas, their love wasn’t meant to last and the two went their separate ways two years later, in 1988.

Again, when it came to the reason for the two divorces, Goldberg’s lips were sealed.

It Didn’t Last Long

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Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

That was also the end of her relationship with Dalton. At least, as far as the public knew. After winning her Oscar, Goldberg went on to reach new heights in Hollywood, starring in the 1992 box office hit Sister Act.

The following year, she starred in the sequel film as well as Made In America, opposite Ted Danson.

Up Next: A Relationship With Timothy Dalton

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

After her second marriage failed, no one really saw Goldberg with anyone. That is until she walked the red carpet at the 1991 Academy Awards with James Bond actor Timothy Dalton. People were actually surprised to see the two together, as Goldberg was very secretive about their year-long romance.

But it was the year of surprises as Goldberg walked away with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Ghost.

Relationship Rumors Sparked With Ted Danson

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Eric Robert/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

According to Hello!, Goldberg and Danson had met years prior on the ’80s late-night talk show The Arsenio Hall Show. It wasn’t until they rekindled on the set of Made in America that rumors of a romantic relationship began to spark.

Once again, Goldberg was very private about anything having to do with her personal life.

…It Was Actually An Affair

Ted Danson And Whoopi Goldberg In 'Made In America'
Warner Brothers/Getty Images
Warner Brothers/Getty Images

Nothing stays quiet in Hollywood for long, though. While Goldberg was single, Danson was married with two children! Once their relationship was leaked, Danson’s wife kicked him to the curb and divorced him for $30 million!

Sadly, for Danson, the affair probably wasn’t worth the money since his relationship with Goldberg only lasted another 18 months.

The Split Was Painful For Goldberg

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ABC
ABC

The split was very public and difficult for Goldberg. She even opened up about it during an interview with Closer magazine, which was very out of the ordinary for the actress.

During the interview, she said, “It was really painful, and it was very public. And the loss of his friendship hurts a great deal. We can never go and have a soda anywhere. I’m friends with almost every man I’ve gone out with, except this man.”

One Year Later, She Was Married To Lyle Trachtenberg

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The actress moved on, though, surprisingly fast. Just a year later, in 1994, Goldberg was dating, engaged, and then married to her third husband, actor Lyle Trachtenberg. The marriage between the two actors was the shortest out of all of Goldberg’s marriages, only lasting one year.

The pair divorced in 1995.

Her Career Took Off In The ’90s

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Touchstone Pictures
Touchstone Pictures

Goldberg’s third divorce didn’t slow her down, though. The actress thrived throughout the ’90s, starring in multiple huge blockbusters. She even voiced Shenzi in the Lion King. Truthfully, her failing love life didn’t stop Goldberg from becoming an A-list celebrity.

Even so, it didn’t take her long to find a new love interest in Frank Langella.

It Was Love And Basketball

Whoopi Goldberg gets a Lift from Boyfriend Frank Langella on set of
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Lawrence Schwartzwald/Sygma via Getty Images

Goldberg and Langella met on the set of Eddie, a basketball movie the two starred in alongside one another. While the film was a flop, the two found one another and began a romantic relationship.

For years, the two were together, and fans thought Goldberg had once again found a man she was going to marry.

They Were Together For Five Years

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Things weren’t meant to last between the two actors, though. After five years of living together, Goldberg and Langella went their separate ways. True to form, Goldberg never discussed what happened between the two to cause their split.

And Langella wasn’t spilling any personal secrets either. The two just broke up!

Three Divorces And 29 Movies Later…

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Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Between the divorce and a serious relationship, somehow Goldberg still starred in a whopping 29 movies throughout the ’90s. The number made her the hardest-working movie star of the decade.

While she was one of the biggest stars of the ’90s, her presence on the silver screen began to diminish at the turn of the millennia.

She Ventured Into Television, Hosting, And Radio

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ABC

Once 2000 hit, Goldberg set her eyes towards television and hosting various shows, including her own, Whoopi, and a kids mini-series called Whoopi’s Littleburg. She even began dabbling in radio.

Most recently, though, Goldberg has been one of the co-hosts on the popular talk show The View. It wasn’t there that she spilled the beans about her views on relationships, though.

Her First Tell-All Was In 2011

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Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Goldberg finally opened up about why her three marriages failed while a guest on Piers Morgan Tonight in 2011.

There, she explained her thoughts towards her ex-husbands, saying, “I suppose that, you know, you have to actually be in love with the person that you marry. You have to really be committed to them. And I’m just – I don’t have that commitment.”

She Thought Marriage Would Make Her Life “Normal”

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Bobby Bank/Getty Images

Hearing that Goldberg never truly loved her three ex-husbands was a shock. But she explained her reasoning, saying that she married each of them to fit in with society’s standards.

During the interview, she said, “And it seemed to me that if I was married, I’d have a… more normal life. But clearly, that’s not the case.”

Marriage Wasn’t For Her

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Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Goldberg continued in the interview, saying, “There’s not a good reason to get married. You have to actually want a life with someone through ups and downs. And I – I just discovered that wasn’t for me.”

After that eye-opening statement, it was surprising the hear that once upon a time; the actress had been in love.

A Mystery Man Stole Her Heart

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ABC
ABC

According to Goldberg, she had been in love once. She didn’t name the man, only saying that he wasn’t famous and was now married with a family.

After telling Goldberg he was sorry it didn’t work out with the mystery man, she simply retorted, “Lots of other things did. So I didn’t do too badly.”

The Next Tell-All Interview Came In 2019

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Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Chromat

After years of privacy, Goldberg had finally spoken out about love and marriage. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the last time the actress discussed the topic. In 2019, she once again spoke of her past, this time in an interview with The New York Times.

To start, she discussed how people expect women to have a boyfriend.

Whoopi Believes Marriage Is An Expectation

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Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

In her interview with The New York Times, Goldberg said, “Look, people expect you to have a boyfriend. They expect you to get married. So I kept trying to do that, but I didn’t want to share information with somebody else.”

That wasn’t the end of the discussion either. The actress went on to explain exactly what she meant by the statement.

It Was All About Freedom

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Continuing in the interview, Goldberg said, “I didn’t want anybody asking me why I was doing what I was doing, or to have to make the other person feel better.”

“But if you’re in a relationship, you have to do those things, and it took me a while to figure out that I didn’t want to.”

Her Life = Her Terms

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In her interview with The New York Times, Goldberg went on to discuss conforming to society’s expectations — the reason why she kept getting married — and how one day she woke up and realized she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to.

She decided to live her life on her terms.

It’s Not About Conforming To Other Peoples Expectations

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Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Going off that topic, Goldberg went on to say, “I’d be thinking, why don’t I feel the thing that I’m supposed to?”

“Then one day I thought: I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to conform. I tried marriage, and it wasn’t for me. You can’t be in a marriage because everybody’s expecting you to.”

Its The Single Life For Whoopi

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Brent N. Clarke/Getty Images

Continuing in the interview, Goldberg explained how she is satisfied being single. The actress said, “I’m much happier on my own.”

“I can spend as much time with somebody as I want to spend, but I’m not looking to be with somebody forever or live with someone. I don’t want somebody in my house.”

She Wrote A Book Discussing Her Stance On The Topic

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Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic/Getty Images

In fact, she has such strong opinions on the topic that Goldberg published a book in 2015 titled Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships: If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN!

The book discusses relationships while dabbling in her own personal experiences. In a very frank and truthful manner, Goldberg even wrote that she thinks humans are brainwashed and shouldn’t mate for life. “We’ve all been brainwashed with false expectations…not every species mates for life.”

Whoopi’s Divorces Taught Her A Lot About Herself

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Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Considering she was so private about her relationships throughout the ’80s and ’90s, it’s interesting to hear how Goldberg has come to view relationships, namely marriage.

Both controversial and thought-provoking, the actress has finally figured out that marriage is not for her and that her former relationships with her three ex-husbands failed because she didn’t actually love them, just thought she had to say “yes” because it was expected of her.