Whoopi Goldberg Reveals How Sister Act Costar Maggie Smith Comforted Her When She Heard Mom Was Dying

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“Just having somebody who got it, who understood, it’s everything,” Goldberg tells

During a difficult moment in her life, Whoopi Goldberg had the emotional support of Dame Maggie Smith to help her through.

In her new memoir Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me, out now from Blackstone Publishing, the EGOT winner, 68, reflects on the lives of her mother, Emma Harris, and her brother, Clyde K. Johnson, who died in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

Speaking with Goldberg recalls the moment that she learned that Harris was on life support following an aneurysm. Goldberg was performing in the stage adaptation of Sister Act in London, when Johnson called her with the news.

Smith, 89, who costarred with Goldberg in the Sister Act films, was visiting the production at the time. Goldberg recalls that while she was waiting for a flight to the hospital, where she and Johnson would take their mother off of life support, Smith provided much-needed emotional support. Goldberg writes in her memoir that she shared memories of her mother with the actress for five hours.

Personal pix from Whoopi Goldberg's book

“Having Maggie Smith be there, and being able to fall apart and having her say, ‘Listen, my friend. We’ll get you through this. We’ll get you through this. We’ll get you to the hospital so you can get her. Get you back to Berkeley so you can get home.

“We were up all night, just laughing and talking about stuff,” the star continues. “And she had met my mom a couple of times. Just having somebody who got it, who understood, it’s everything.”

In Bits and Pieces, Goldberg looks back on her relationships with her mother and brother, throughout her childhood in New York to her fruitful career in the entertainment industry. Goldberg describes, in detail, the upsetting moment during when she witnessed her mother having a nervous breakdown when Goldberg was a child, which led to Harris being sent to Bellevue Hospital in New York for two years. The actress later learned that her mother underwent electroshock therapy, which affected her memory, and led her to forget who she and her brother were.

Whoopi Goldberg attends the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 portrait studio
Whoopi Goldberg in 2013. LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY IMAGES

“Living without my mother, who was always my world, who had always been that center of gravity. Suddenly the center of gravity wasn’t there,” Goldberg says.

Writing her book, Goldberg says, was a difficult experience, as it felt like “losing [Harris and Johnson] again” – but the process also proved to be a way to remember them.

“I just thought, ‘Wow, if you can’t keep how they’ve been gone together, it’s no wonder you can’t remember anything,” Goldberg says. “So just maybe you should just write some stuff down, see what happens if you do that.'”

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