The Truth About Ted Danson And Whoopi Goldberg's Relationship

While today's Hollywood's odd couples provide ample fodder for the tabloids each week, people often forget the unlikely pairs that held the public's attention back in the day. For instance, few remember that The Good Place actor Ted Danson and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg dated for more than a year back in the '90s.

Fresh off his success as Cheers bartender Sam Malone, Danson and the Sister Act star began their controversial affair on the set of 1993's Made in America. While the co-stars kept their relationship a secret at first, tabloids caused an uproar that ultimately ended his marriage to his second wife Cassandra "Casey" Coates. After 16 years together, Coates walked away from their marriage with two children and $30 million — one of the most expensive divorces in Hollywood history (per Zimbio).

Neither Danson nor Goldberg commented on his split, but the pair put their love on public display in the months afterward. In fact, according to sources, Danson and Goldberg planned to marry once his divorce was finalized. "I'd walk in Whoopi's shadow for the rest of my life — I adore the woman," Danson said (via Fabiosa). However, outside influences got the best of him, and Danson broke up with Goldberg after 18 months. "They made plans to wed as soon as [Ted] could get a divorce, but under pressure from his parents, he dumped Whoopi," the source explained.

One public faux pas might've been the real reason this A-list couple didn't last.

Ted Danson wore blackface at a roast of Whoopi Goldberg

In October 1993, Ted Danson performed at the Friars Club roast for Whoopi Goldberg. Roasts are known for their harsh humor, but Danson took it to another level when he showed up in blackface. According to People, Danson's "racial-slur-laden monologue" touched on the couple's sex life and Goldberg's intimate characteristics. He ended the set by eating a tray of watermelon. As critic Roger Ebert wrote, "The event demonstrated that the painful history of black-white relations in America is still too sensitive to be joked about crudely."

According to Slate, Goldberg took to the stage to chastise the audience's reaction to Danson's jokes. "It takes a lot of courage to come out in blackface in front of 3,000," she said. "I don't care if you don't like it. I do!" But the fallout likely proved too much for the couple, as Danson and Goldberg announced their breakup less than one month after the roast — and it hit her hard.

"It was real painful, and it was very public," Goldberg said, per Closer. "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."

However, both Danson and Goldberg quickly moved on after going their separate ways.

Ted Danson found love when he least expected it

Shortly after his breakup with Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Danson found love with his Pontiac Moon co-star — actress Mary Steenburgen — when he least expected to. "I was a mess-and-a-half," Danson told AARP's magazine of the days after his high-profile breakups. He admitted that therapy got him through that time. "I thought, 'I'm incapable of being in a relationship.' But I was working on myself. Ironic how life works in those moments. Once you throw your arms up and surrender, a lot of times things come your way."

Steenburgen, a divorced mother of two, had also sworn off relationships. "I announced to all my friends—not dramatically, but very seriously—that I was done with relationships," she told Closer. But neither of them could fight the obvious attraction. 

Now, after 25 years of marriage, Danson and Steenburgen are as happy and in love as ever. "I get nervous around her because I want to impress her. I am the luckiest," he added. "When I die, I will have known in this life what it is to love as a human being and to be loved, and I am so grateful." These two were meant to be.

Whoopi Goldberg decided marriage doesn't fit her lifestyle

Although Whoopi Goldberg has been married three times — she wed third husband Lyle Trachtenberg in 1994, just one year after her breakup with Danson — the Ghost star decided married life didn't mesh with her preferred lifestyle. "They expect you to get married. So I kept trying to do that, but I didn't want to share information with somebody else," she told the New York Times in July 2019. "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."

"I'd be thinking, why don't I feel the thing that I'm supposed to?" she added. "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." 

From these failed relationships, Goldberg eventually learned she's much happier on her own. "I can spend as much time with somebody as I want to spend," she explained on The Tamron Hall Show (via The Cut). "I don't want somebody in my house." We know the feeling!

There's no bad blood between Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg

Not only have Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg moved on post-split, but there doesn't seem to be any lingering drama between these exes. According to HuffPost, Goldberg joked about life after Danson during a December 2015 appearance on Watch What Happens Live. Referring to their relationship, she candidly said, "That's, like, 20 years ago! I've boned so many people since then." She also revealed they don't talk anymore, which isn't necessarily a huge shock.

Even so, Goldberg still doesn't fault him for that controversial roast. In a July 2019 New York Times profile, she explained, "People always bring this up because I guess they think I'm going to say what a terrible thing it was. But for me, it was exactly what it needed to be, just in the wrong place with the wrong people." In fact, she was responsible for some of the jokes Danson told that night. Goldberg added, "People had been really nasty about my relationship with Ted. So I thought, the best way to come back at that is to put it all in joke form."

Danson is much more mum when it comes to discussing this particular relationship, but as Goldberg said herself, it's been "like, 20 years" since everything went down. So clearly, they've both moved on romantically — and continued to have killer careers along the way.