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Old 03-23-2005, 10:50 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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When did Whoopi Goldberg get her Ph.D.?

Pretty much any bio of Whoopi Goldberg has a one-sentence note that she earned a Ph.D. in literature from New York University. Earned, not an honorary degree, which are mentioned separately.

But not a mention of just when she found time in a career making several movies a year to go to school. It wasn't when she was young and penniless. I found a 1991 article that makes no mention of it.

So, real? Or B.S. and not the degree kind?
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Old 03-23-2005, 10:58 AM
twickster twickster is offline
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Link?
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Old 03-23-2005, 11:13 AM
The Devil's Grandmother The Devil's Grandmother is offline
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Google brought up several mentions of her PhD, (here's one on a celebrity-trivia site), but no dates.
Whoopi is not listed on the NYC alumni database, either as Whoopi or under her birth name. There's no obvious break in her listing on the IMDB.

Did she leap of being a highschool dropout to being in a PhD program? There must have been some intermediate steps, I think.
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Old 03-23-2005, 12:04 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Well, her species does have an exceptionally long lifespan.
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Old 03-23-2005, 12:05 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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IMDb also gives her birthdate as 1955, when 1949 is far more likely. Whoopi has fudged so much of her life that it's hard to get solid facts now.
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Old 03-23-2005, 04:29 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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I just checked a database of doctoral dissertations going back to 1861 (you read that right), and there's nothing under her real name (Caryn Elaine Johnson), her married name (Caryn Martin) or her stage name. There is also no dissertation by her in the NYU library catalog.
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Old 03-23-2005, 04:50 PM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
her real name (Caryn Elaine Johnson)
She's not really jewish?

--Cliffy
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Old 03-23-2005, 05:09 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Cliffy, you have to remember she changed her name from the very WASPy "Cushion".

Walloon, thanks for the search. I thought this unsourced, undated tidbit smelled of urban legend. Now the question is where would something like this have come from? I know that her one-women shows used to feature Fontaine, a junkie who had a Ph.D. Normally I wouldn't expect people to confuse a character with the real person - especially when the character is a man! - but the Internet is full of weirder stories.
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Old 03-23-2005, 06:18 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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I'd suggest it's possible she earned an undergraduate degree or masters, from NYU or CUNY or whereever else, and it's been embellished since.
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Old 03-23-2005, 07:15 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Same problem arises. She didn't do it when she was young, and when did she have time while making several movies a year since?
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Old 03-23-2005, 07:22 PM
The Long Road The Long Road is offline
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Based on watching one interview from her very bad talk show, her Ph.D. must have been in "Yaknowology" because she ended every single sentence with "Ya know?".
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Old 03-23-2005, 07:30 PM
jackelope jackelope is offline
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Having performed no research whatsoever on this, I'll mention that I seem to recall, back in the early to mid-90s, Whoopi receiving an honorary doctorate from the U of Somewhere-Or-Other.

Wait a minute. On preview, I clicked on The Devil's Grandmother's celebrity-trivia link, which says:
Quote:
She earned a Ph.D from New York University in literature.
With no supporting detail.

On the other hand, her IMDb page (Whoopi's, not The Devil's Grandmother's) says:
Quote:
Holds an honorary degree from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa.
I have no idea how thoroughly these things are researched, and I've already done way too much clicking and formatting for a post that begins with, "Having performed no research whatsoever on this...." The reader is thus left to his/her own devices from here on out.
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Old 03-23-2005, 11:44 PM
BobT BobT is offline
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None of the biographical sources like the Marquis Who's Who list any educational credits for Whoopi Goldberg. And since her publicist would likely fill it out for her, I don't know if the degree is earned or honorary. No NYU alumni publication lists her as a grad.
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Old 03-24-2005, 01:18 AM
jackelope jackelope is offline
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OK, I did some more searching. A Google search for Whoopi Goldberg honorary degree turns up some cites:

On May 17, 1997, Whoopi spoke at the grauation ceremony of the University of Vermont:
Quote:
Some maxims never lose their power, actress and activist Whoopi Goldberg proved to University of Vermont graduates during the school's 193rd commencement today.

(Blah blah blah)

The wildly cheered commencement speaker also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university, conferred by outgoing President Thomas P. Salmon.
That's the most specific information I can find, and it's from some kind of press release--never a terribly trustworthy source, though at least this one is university-sponsored.

Other than that, every page seem to say the same things: "She dropped out of high school at the age of 17" and "She holds a Ph.D. in literature from New York University, and an honorary degree from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania."

Odd that the honorary degree mentioned all over the place isn't even the one from Vermont that there's at least some evidence for.
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Old 03-24-2005, 02:36 AM
Snooooopy Snooooopy is offline
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Perhaps she threatened to subject the Ph.D. committee members to her lousy jokes until they tossed a degree at her out of fear for their lives.
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:34 PM
bleach bleach is offline
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I think somebody confused Whoopi and one of her characters named Fontaine.

Source: Biography.com's article on Whoopi, p2 (first paragraph). Evidently Fontaine is a character whom she created. Fontaine is a junky/thief with a Ph.D. in literature. And is a guy.

Walloon, feel up to searching dissertations under his name?
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:47 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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I met Fontaine on the corner, and he told me if I'd give him twenty, he'd tell me if it was true.
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