The Truth About Whoopi Goldberg's Relationship History

The following article includes mentions of drug addiction.

We might know a lot about this outspoken co-host of "The View" from her often colorful anecdotes, but there's one aspect of her life that remains somewhat puzzling: What's the truth about Whoopi Goldberg's relationship history? The legendary performer may be one of the proud few to be in the exclusive EGOT club — someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award in their career — but her love life has seemingly been less of a grand slam by comparison. Or, has it?

Unlike many other celebrities of the same generation, Goldberg's relationship status — at the time of this writing, at least — doesn't seem to involve a long-term partner that she steps out with at red carpet events. But there's also an alluring power to seeing such a strong woman simply enjoying her own company without feeling the need to couple up for public approval. All of which isn't to say that Goldberg hasn't enjoyed an illustrious love life prior to this point. In fact, her experience has meant that the multi-talented star has learned a great deal about herself and about love along the way. 

So, how does she feel about romantic relationships these days? Here's the truth about Whoopi Goldberg's relationship history.

Whoopi Goldberg was a 'happy' teenage bride

Whoopi Goldberg's complicated relationship history began when she was a teenager experimenting with drugs. As she recalled to The Telegraph, ingesting as many "mind-altering substances" as possible was a "rite of passage" for her — one that almost derailed her life. "I was young, homeless and addicted to heroin," Goldberg said. "I dropped out of high school and into drugs."

Getting clean pointed her in the direction of acting, but it also led to her first marriage. Alvin Martin was initially her drug counselor, but the two made a connection, got married in 1973, and had a child together. Speaking to New York magazine, Goldberg reflected that the media's depiction of her "layin' in the gutter" as a young drug addict and pulling herself "up from degradation" wasn't quite accurate. Though she married young — at age 18 — and was divorced by 1979, she also found real joy in the experience. "I was married and very happy to have a kid," she said. "It was fun."

As the star's daughter, Alex Martin Dean, told The Grio, the two seemed to enjoy a joyful, if difficult, early life together. Goldberg was struggling financially as a single mom while hitting up against the obstacles of an acting career — they shared a "one room space" and a bed together and depended on food stamps during her childhood. Though they didn't have much, Martin Dean regardless recalled a happy upbringing. Clearly, Goldberg didn't need a man to make that happen.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Her next two marriages were failures by her own admission

By 1985, Whoopi Goldberg had finally established herself as a star thanks to her Oscar-nominated performance in "The Color Purple." A year later, and she was onto her second marriage to Dutch cinematographer David Claessen, whom she met on the set of the documentary, "Who Are They?" — however, they were divorced within two years (via Closer Weekly). 

For marriage number three, Goldberg shacked up with union representative Lyle Tratchenberg in 1994. The two met on the set of the movie, "Corrina, Corrina," with the Los Angeles Times depicting a celebrity-studded ceremony at the star's Pacific Palisades home, attended by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matthew Modine, and Steven Spielberg. Unfortunately, this marriage was done and dusted by 1995. 

Speaking to The New York Times in 2019, Goldberg explained that she "was never really in love" with her husbands and took responsibility for her marriages seemingly failing. People "expect[ed]" her to get married, but she realized she wasn't ready to share her life with someone and also didn't want the commitment or responsibilities that come with marriage. "I'd be thinking, why don't I feel the thing that I'm supposed to?" Goldberg said. "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."

The star got married to 'feel normal' – but her mom knew something was up

Admittedly, it's a difficult thing for many people to make sense of: Just why did Whoopi Goldberg marry three times if she didn't love any of her husbands? The answer will likely be crushingly relatable for some. "I wanted to feel normal," she told Piers Morgan on CNN. "And it seemed to me that if I was married, I'd have a much more normal life."

The multi-talented performer further reasoned that, while this is obviously "not a good reason to get married," doing so also didn't feel "normal" for her. The processes involved with marriage — of "want[ing] a life with someone" and supporting a spouse "through ups and downs" — just weren't appealing to Goldberg. And though she may have not have realized it at the time, her mom was onto it from the get-go.

The "Sister Act" actor told ABC News that her mother had said to her before one wedding, "You know you don't want to do this. I have the keys to the car. Let's go." But ultimately, Goldberg "didn't want to embarrass" her partner in front of their loved ones, so she went through with it. The star learned a valuable lesson, one that she encouraged others to take heed of prior to their own wedding day: "Before you get to that place, maybe you want to say, 'Do I actually want to do this?'"

Whoopi Goldberg: Here for a good time, not for a long time

Just because she never felt comfortable with sharing absolutely everything with a partner doesn't mean that Whoopi Goldberg hasn't had fun sharing some other connections with people. During a 2008 episode of "The View" (via New York magazine), the comedian confessed to having had "about 50" lovers throughout her life, but reasoned that tallying up bed notches is arbitrary. "It doesn't matter how many people you've been with in your life," she said. "It's who you stick with." 

Curiously, though Goldberg has clearly enjoyed a fair few victory laps around lovers lane, she's also confessed to having never been "much of a dater" during an interview with CNN. While she may have never loved any of her husbands, she admitted in the same interview to having been in love "once" with a non-famous man whom she remains friends with and didn't regret not marrying. "We talk all the time," she said. "He's got two great kids and a great wife."

So, what about the other 46 or so unaccounted for lovers that Goldberg may have had — who are they? According to the slightly dubious intel of Who Dated Who, the star's impressive number may have included "Lethal Weapon" star Danny Glover and even legendary comic book writer Alan Moore (just don't quote us on that). Alleged paramours aside, there are at least a handful of high-profile and notable names that Goldberg has legitimately been attached to over the years...

Did Timothy Dalton have a license to thrill Whoopi Goldberg?

A few years following her second divorce, Whoopi Goldberg enjoyed a very public flirtation with former "James Bond" star Timothy Dalton. But did they ever actually date? The two were spotted out and about together on a regular basis, but continually maintained that they were just good friends. During a 1991 appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show," they were forced to calmly address the "rumors" after Hall had picked up on their compelling chemistry together and assured them, "Let me tell you something, there are people at home right now, saying, 'Ooh, them two! I know something is going on.'"

You can hardly blame him when you rewatch the moment Goldberg becomes a molten woman on screen after the dashing British actor recalls being "rather knocked out by" her in "A Color Purple." We combusted simply watching it, never mind living it. The two actors had starred together in a highly successful theater run of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters," where they aptly "played ... lifelong friends and sometime lovers," as described by the Los Angeles Times. So, what about in real life?

Whether or not Goldberg and Dalton ever actually crossed that threshold between platonic and romantic is something only these two potential-lovebirds can comment on. What we do know, however, is that the British star was Goldberg's date for the Oscars in 1991, where she won a best supporting actress statue for her performance in "Ghost" — and that, perhaps tellingly, she didn't thank him while accepting the award, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Inside Whoopi Goldberg's controversial affair with Ted Danson

In the '80s and '90s, "Cheers" star Ted Danson was renowned for being one of the hottest dudes on TV — and by 1992, the married actor was enjoying a secret affair with Whoopi Goldberg. According to Hello!, the two started their controversial romance whilst starring in the movie, "Made in America," together. The affair was ousted by the press, and Danson's wife, Cassandra Coates, promptly dropped "The Good Place" star in the bad place by filing for divorce.

Though Goldberg and Danson went public with their relationship, it continued to attract criticism — a situation worsened by a notorious Friar's Club roast of Goldberg, where Danson turned up in blackface and performed a slew of jokes about their interracial relationship while using the N-word, which the "Sister Act" star loved and defended, per Roger Ebert. Regardless, the backlash was heavy, and the couple's eventual breakup was so severe that they couldn't even remain pals. "It was really painful, and it was very public," she explained to Closer (via Hello!). "And the loss of his friendship hurts a great deal."

In an interview with New York magazine, Goldberg raised her suspicions that many of the issues they faced in public were based, at least in part, on the double whammy of them being an interracial couple (she'd co-written that same Friar's Club set after white supremacists sent them hate mail) and because "the big, rich, very sexy man from 'Cheers'" was getting with someone who'd been "considered very asexual for ... the first nine years in Hollywood."

She always knew she was meant to be with Frank Langella

Though she was obviously heartbroken by her split from Ted Danson, Whoopi Goldberg moved on quickly to another relationship with legendary actor Frank Langella. As depicted in a New York magazine interview with Goldberg, the two met while they were co-stars in the 1996 NBA comedy, "Eddie," and "by the end of filming, Langella was getting a divorce from his wife of eighteen years." 

As Goldberg suggested in the interview, however, "this thing" she shared with her new lover had "been going on for a very long time" — in her head, at least. The actor explained that she had been a fan of his work since she was 14 and first saw him in the Mel Brooks comedy, "Twelve Chairs." "I always believed that I would know Frank," she told the publication. And thus, their romance manifested and bloomed for five strong years.

In that time, their relationship was portrayed as being a dynamic meeting of minds — a 1996 New Yorker article even suggests that Langella's colleagues were crediting Goldberg as the reason for why "a good actor ... got better" — but by 2000, they'd pulled the curtains on their romance. Describing them as "one of showbiz's most low-key couples," Variety reported that the two "remain good and close friends" with "every intention of working together" again. Sadly, we're still waiting on that collaboration, just FYI. 

Whoopi Goldberg wrote a book of relationship advice

Having enjoyed an abundance of different relationships has understandably made Whoopi Goldberg something of a reliable expert of matters of the heart (and the body). In 2015, the bestselling author flexed like Carrie Bradshaw and released an entire book of advice on the subject. The wittily titled "If Someone Says 'You Complete Me,' Run!" dished out tips about ways to find and maintain relationships, but it also reflected Goldberg's core personal ethos when it comes to relationships: "How being alone can be satisfying and how what's most important is understanding who you are and what makes you happy" (via The Washington Post).

As outlined in the book, there's one major thing that definitely hasn't made Goldberg happy in more recent years: Being in a romantic relationship. And why? "They require a lot of work that I actually don't want to do," she wrote (via New York Post). Described by Howard Stern as being full of what "a lot of people would call ... politically incorrect advice," the book broaches uncomfortable territory with careful compassion and empathy — such as Goldberg's suggestion that extramarital sex with "reputable people" can sometimes save, rather than hinder, a relationship (via New York Post). 

This is a woman who knows what she's talking about, and who, at some point, has decided she'd rather write about it than have to experience it for herself anymore. And you know what? Good for her. 

This multi-talent has learned that she's happiest on her own

After a fair few decades worth of enjoying a storied love life, Whoopi Goldberg has finally settled on a relationship status she's comfortable with: Single and better off for it. While in conversation with The New York Times Magazine in 2016, the EGOT achiever confessed that she's simply "much happier" not having to live with anyone else and having the space to enjoy her time on her own.

She told the newspaper, "I don't want somebody in my house" — a meme-worthy sentiment for every happily single person on the planet, only made better by her follow-up, "I'm the round peg, and marriage is the square hole. You can't have a square hole, can you?" As Goldberg jokingly elaborated during her appearance on an episode of "Loose Women," she'd potentially consider marriage again — but only with very specific conditions attached. 

"The only way I could be married to anyone ever again is if they lived in another country," Goldberg quipped. "They could come and visit, it would be like, 'Oh, my goodness, I haven't seen you in so long. Come here!'"

Whoopi Goldberg is prioritizing her cat over her love life, and that's a vibe

Now enjoying her golden era of life, Whoopi Goldberg is evidently very content with her own company and enjoying it alone, but there's one for whom Goldberg is happy to share her life and home — her cat, Oliver. In keeping true to the rulebook all grumpy felines appear to adhere to, he also isn't too keen for Goldberg to let anyone else into their happy home.

"He will leave little treats for anybody that's not me in the bed," Goldberg explained to People in 2019. "I know what he will do if I bring somebody in." It's a relatable reason for swearing off relationships, but also incredibly convenient for the star, who re-affirmed to the magazine that she simply isn't interested in forming "a commitment" with someone that entails her having to "ask their opinion and listen and work it out with them." 

You know who doesn't chat back when you talk to them? A cat. Perhaps Whoopi Goldberg is on to something here? Either way, we wish the human celeb and her adorable cat many more happy years together.