She’s known for her hilarious comedy acts and upbeat TV and movie appearances, but Whoopi Goldberg has been secretly battling a serious illness over the last few weeks that she’s now admitted brought her close to death.
The 63-year-old star has been taking a break from her US show The View recently, with her fellow presenters addressing her disappearance at the end of last month – revealing she was recovering from pneumonia.
But now the comedian herself has revealed just how serious the illness got, as she appeared via video link on the show.
“Hey, yes, it’s me,” she started by saying. “I am here. I am up and moving around – not as fast as I’d like to be, but I am okay. I’m not dead.”
She went on to reveal she’d had pneumonia in both lungs and had gone septic, meaning the infection had then gone on to spread further through her bloodstream.
“Yes, I came very close to leaving the earth,” she added on the show. “Good news, I didn’t. Thank you for all of your good wishes, all of the wonderful things that people have been saying. Even people who aren’t huge fans of mine have actually been saying nice thing about me!”
As the audience laughed, Goldberg proved she still has her winning sense of humour as she added: “We all know that’s going to change when I get back, but for right now, it’s brilliant.”
She added to her co-hosts: “And ladies, I cannot wait to see y’all. This has been interesting and I’ll tell you about it when we’re all at the table. To everybody, see you soon.”
Goldberg hasn’t been presenting the show since the start of February, with co-host Joy Behar telling fans later that month that she was recovering.
“She’s actually recovering from pneumonia. I saw her last night and she’s very funny still, and we had big laughs. She’s getting there, she’s on the mend,” she said at the time, according to People.
Goldberg shot to huge fame with her role as Celie, a mistreated woman in the Deep South in movie The Colour Purple in 1985, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won her first Golden Globe Award.
She went on to star in romantic film Ghost in 1990 as Oda Mae Brown, an eccentric psychic, winning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a second Golden Globe. Then in 1992, she starred in the comedy Sister Act – a role many fondly remember and love today.