Golden Girl

Whoopi Goldberg shares her stories, opinions and birthday with Las Vegas

You’d think that buying a gift for a celebrity would be difficult, but Whoopi Goldberg is easy to shop for. “Get me a dollar scratch-off and I’m happy,” she says. But this year, the Academy Award-winning actress will celebrate her 55th birthday with two Las Vegas performances.

The actor, author, comedian and producer has returned from overseeing the final performances of a successful London run of the musical Sister Act, which may make its way here someday. “It might be fun there in Vegas,” she says. This is coming from a lady who knows where Las Vegas comes from. “In the old days, you couldn’t bring children to Las Vegas,” she says. “You could go hear Wayne Newton, or you could go see the tiger men, umm … Siegfried & Roy, you could go hear Shirley Bassey and Steppenwolf. My time period, which was the ’80s, was exciting and wonderful. So I got to meet some of the all-time Vegas folks, like Sammy [Davis Jr.] and Dean [Martin].”

One of the guys Goldberg got to know was Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, whom she met while filming a commercial for Steve Wynn’s then-new casino, The Mirage. “I really liked him. He had a great sense of humor, and there was no one like him. When you listened to him sing, you realized that you were hearing something that was on its own and unlike anything else.”

And then there’s Bill O’Reilly. As seen on a recent episode of The View, O’Reilly’s stubborn views caused Goldberg and fellow co-host Joy Behar to walk off the set. “I suspect that had Joy and I not left, he would not have apologized, which he did,” Goldberg says. “Now it was a backhanded apology, but clearly he knew something was necessary, because that’s not a man that apologizes for anything.”