Whoopi Goldberg chose her stage name from the whoopee cushion and because her mother thought Goldberg was Jewish enough sounding to make it in Hollywood!
Caryn Elaine Johnson grew up in Manhattan, New York. Her mother was a nurse and teacher while her father was a clergyman who left them. She was raised by her mom and when she was a girl, she saw Star Trek and saw the character Uhura and said “Momma! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!” She became a lifelong fan of Star Trek at that point.
Her stage name became Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi was derived from whoopee cushions, because she said “If you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go. So, people used to say to me, ‘You’re like a whoopee cushion!’ And that’s where the name comes from.”
Her stage last-name, Goldberg, was suggested by her mother. Whoopi's mom didn't think her real last name, Johnson, was Jewish-sounding enough to make it as a star.
Between 1979 and 1981, Goldberg lived in Communist Each Germany while working in theater productions. She used to smuggle in various things for her artist friends that she was staying with.