Steven Spielberg's "The Color Purple" made superstars out of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey when it premiered in 1985. It was an instant commercial and critical success, amassing 11 Academy Award nominations. The film celebrates its 35th anniversary on Dec. 18, 2020, and in honor of the occasion, Wonderwall.com is checking in to see what its stars are up to today…
Whoopi Goldberg played Celie, a teenager in Georgia in the early 20th century.
"The Color Purple" gave Whoopi Goldberg her big break on the big screen. She ran with it, scoring an Academy Award nomination for best actress and winning her very first Golden Globe. She continued to star in some pretty major films like 1990's "Ghost," for which she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress as well as her second Golden Globe. 1992 saw a big commercial hit for Whoopi with "Sister Act," which earned her a third Golden Globe nomination. She also starred in its 1993 sequel. In the late '90s, she appeared in hits like "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and "Girl, Interrupted." And it's not just film that Whoopi excelled in — she also achieved the coveted EGOT distinction, winning two Daytime Emmys for the special "Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel" and her hosting duties on "The View," plus a Grammy for best comedy album for a 1986 recording, and a Tony Award for best musical for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in 2002. When it comes to her personal life, Whoopi has been married three times — to Alvin Martin, to cinematographer David Claessen and to union organized Lyle Trachtenberg — and has since said she wouldn't marry again. She has one daughter, Alexandrea Martin, from her first marriage, and is both a grandmother and a great-grandmother.
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Oprah Winfrey took on the role of Sofia, the wife of Mister's son Harpo who refuses to accept mistreatment from her husband.
Though she'd been a fixture on television, Oprah Winfrey had been working as a news correspondent and host before landing her first film role ever with "The Color Purple." Her performance earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. A year after the film's debut, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" premiered in September 1986 and went on to become the No. 1 daytime talk show in America. It ran until 2011, making Oprah a household name and superstar over the years. She continued to occasionally act on screen, appearing in films like "Native Son" in 1986 and voicing characters in 2006's "Charlotte's Web," 2007's "Bee Movie" and 2009's "The Princess and the Frog." 2014's "Selma" saw Oprah take to the big screen once more, playing Annie Lee Cooper. The media mogul, who for years has also had her own television network and magazine and has been a prolific producer, has been with longtime love Stedman Graham since 1986. Though they got engaged in 1992, they've never wed.
Danny Glover played Albert, a widower referred to as Mister who is set to marry Celie.
Danny Glover followed up "The Color Purple" with a major franchise — the "Lethal Weapon" series. The first film came out in 1987, followed by 1989, 1992 and 1998 installments. He also appeared in big hits like "Predator 2" in 1990, "Angels in the Outfield" in 1994 and "Operation Dumbo Drop" in 1995. Danny is well known for his supporting roles in the 2004 horror film "Saw," the 2009 action movie "2012" and the 2019 rebooted franchise flick "Jumanji: The Next Level." He married his first wife, Asake Bomani, in 1975; they share daughter Mandisa. They split in 2000 and he's been married to Eliane Cavalleiro since 2009.
Margaret Avery starred as Shug Avery, Mister's mistress.
Post-"The Color Purple," Margaret Avery appeared in movies like "Blueberry Hill" in 1988, "White Man's Burden" in 1995, "Meet the Browns" in 2008 and "Proud Mary" in 2018. She also appeared on numerous television shows, popping up on episodes of series like "Murder, She Wrote," "Miami Vice," "The Cosby Show" and "Bones." She also starred as Helen Patterson on BET's "Being Mary Jane" from 2013 until 2019. Off screen, the actress was married to Robert Gordon Hunt — with whom she shares a daughter, Aisha — from 1974 to 1980.
Bringing Harpo, Mister's son, to life? That was actor Willard Pugh.
"The Color Purple" was one of Willard Pugh's biggest movies, though he followed it up with numerous films including 1990's "RoboCop 2" and 1997's "Air Force One." More recently, he had a role in the 2020 TV series "Casting the Net." Not much is known about his personal life.
Akosua Busia portrayed Celie's younger sister, Nettie.
The role of Nettie is still Akosua Busia's biggest role to date. She followed it up with parts in "Native Son" and "Hard Lessons" in 1986 and starred in other memorable films like "Rosewood" in 1997 and "Tears of the Sun" in 2003. She married director John Singleton in 1996 and they welcomed a daughter in 1997. The couple divorced two months after she was born, however, and Akosua subsequently left Hollywood for 18 years to raise her child. She returned in 2016 to take on a stage role opposite Lupita Nyong'o in "Eclipsed."
Adolph Caesar landed the role of Old Mister, Mister's father.
Adolph Caesar starred in "The Color Purple" on the heels of the biggest role of his career. In 1985, he'd scored Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his work in the 1984 film "A Soldier's Story." Prior to that, he'd worked mainly in film and did voice-over work for TV and radio commercials. He only appeared in one film after "The Color Purple" — 1986's "Club Paradise." It was released posthumously, as Adolph passed away on the set of the 1986 film "Tough Guys" after suffering a heart attack.