Whoopi Goldberg shares why she 'couldn't stop crying' on “The View” after Mike Nichols died

The late director of stage and screen had a special connection with the "Color Purple" star.

When director Mike Nichols died in 2014, The View cohost Whoopi Goldberg was so devastated that she couldn't stop crying on the air. And the emotion was very genuine.

She explains her close connection to the late director of The Graduate, Working Girl, and many stage shows, in her new memoir, Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me. They first met when he came to see the comedian's one-woman show when she was starting out in the early ‘80s. 

Goldberg writes that her mother attended nightly and would let her daughter know if any recognizable celebrities were in the venue. When Nichols popped up, the actress didn't know what he looked like, so she just acted as she normally did. Afterward, he knocked on her dressing room door.

"I went to meet him, and he was standing there with tears in his eyes," Goldberg writes.

<p>Ida Mae Astute/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty</p> Host Whoopi Goldberg and guest Mike Nichols on "The View" in 2012.

Ida Mae Astute/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty

Host Whoopi Goldberg and guest Mike Nichols on "The View" in 2012.

A part of the show that took place during the Holocaust had resonated with him. Nichols told her, "I was on the last boat leaving Germany in 1939 before they no longer allowed Jews to leave."

He asked Goldberg if she would consider doing her show on Broadway, and told her that he would call to follow up. She was surprised when, about a month later, he did. Nichols had located a venue to do just what he had pitched, which is not always the case in showbiz.

He arranged for an apartment for her to stay in and attended rehearsals with her. He even befriended Goldberg's mom, who was often by the actress' side in those days.

Goldberg trusted Nichols enough to take his advice for her performance, which helped her show get "better and better."

<p>Blackstone Publishing</p> Whoopi Goldberg's new memoir is "Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me."

Blackstone Publishing

Whoopi Goldberg's new memoir is "Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me."

Just as importantly, Nichols invited Goldberg to attend events with him. She recalls in the book that one lunch, with friends that he referred to simply as Carl, Paul, and Steve, was especially memorable. When Carl Reiner, Paul Simon, and Steve Martin introduced themselves, she pretended that she hadn't already known who they were.

"Mike gave me permission to fly on stage," Goldberg writes. "Even off the stage, Mike always let me feel like I belonged where I was. Not like a newcomer. He always invited me along to whatever he had going on. If my mom was there, he included her."

She noted that Nichols "understood" her and her mother. He gave the her confidence that she could tackle any role. He also boosted her career.

"Because of Mike Nichols, I got the attention of Steven Spielberg," Goldberg writes. "He was going to direct the movie adaptation of The Color Purple, and he wanted me to audition for the lead role of Celie. That started up a long audition process that took almost a year. The cast was huge, and he had a lot to do, figuring out what it would all look like. At that time, I didn't know that he was pretty set on me playing Celie."

<p>Everett Collection</p> Whoopi Goldberg stars in "The Color Purple."

Everett Collection

Whoopi Goldberg stars in "The Color Purple."

Goldberg was nominated for an Oscar for the role, and went on to star in other big films of the era, such as Soapdish, Sister Act, and Ghost, the latter of which earned her an Oscar win.

She last saw Nichols at a meeting he requested that also included Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski. It was two weeks before he died of a heart attack in Nov. 19, 2014.

"We all had a two-hour lunch. We laughed and told stories and listened to Mike tell stories," Goldberg writes. "I knew that this man's effect on me and my luck with him coming to my show all those years ago put me in wondrous company. It seemed like Mike was thinner and didn't have the energy he once had. We all figured he was eighty-three now, so none of us mentioned it to each other. I didn't know it would be my last time seeing him. None of us did."

At the time of Nichols's death, Goldberg was just six months out from having lost her brother.

"The people I loved the most in the world just seemed to keep leaving… were no longer in the world," she recalls. "I was supposed to talk about the loss of Mike on The View the next day, but I couldn't. I couldn't stop crying long enough to say anything."

Her cohosts mostly spoke for her, but Goldberg managed to explain that Nichols had been her "mentor."

Goldberg's book, Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me, is out now.

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