Ted Danson Dumped Whoopi Goldberg Because His Parents Disapproved, Sources Claimed

He left his wife for his Made in America co-star in the early '90s.

Though they were only together for less than two years in the early '90s, Ted Danson's relationship with Whoopi Goldberg cost him millions in a divorce settlement, and their eventual breakup ruined any chance of a friendship with his Made in America costar. Their romance also launched countless tabloid headlines, including plenty speculating about why they split. According to some sources, Danson's parents are to blame, as they disapproved of his moving on with Goldberg. Read on to find out—allegedly—why.

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Danson called himself a family man.

Rhea Perlman, Kirstie Alley, and Ted Danson in 1991
Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Although he became famous for playing an infamous womanizer—bartender and former professional baseball player Sam Malone on the hit series Cheers—in real life, Danson was anything but. He had once joked he was "born married," citing the decades-long marriages of both his grandparents and his parents, archeologist and anthropologist Jess and Edward Danson Jr. as inspiration. "I consider myself a family man, partially because my parents did it so [expletive] well," he told People in 1987.

Danson married his college sweetheart, actress Randy Gosch, in 1970, two years before he graduated college. They pair divorced in 1975, and the next year, he met his second wife, Casey Coates, who he married in 1977. During the birth of their first daughter in 1979, Coates suffered a near-fatal stroke, leading the actor to take a break from his burgeoning career to care for his wife and infant daughter, according to People.

The pair adopted a second daughter in 1985, three years after the debut of the series that would go on to make Danson the highest-paid television actor of the early '90s. Despite his growing fame, the actor claimed the steadfast faithfulness that defined his parents' relationship as late as 1989. "We are committed to each other, totally," he said of himself and Coates back then, according to a 1993 People article. "The idea of my having more relationships boggles my mind."

He fell for Goldberg on a movie set.

Danson first met (and flirted with) Goldberg during a taping of The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989. As Danson began transitioning from Cheers to film, the two were cast together in 1993's Made in America. At this point, Goldberg was recently divorced, and Danson was still married to Coates—but that didn't prevent the two from falling for one another. The co-stars began an affair that became public soon after, eventually leading to Danson's very expensive divorce—with no prenuptial agreement, the actor wound up owing his ex some $30 million.

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Goldberg and Danson broke up after an infamous roast.

Whoopi Goldberg in 2015
Eugene Parciasepe/Shutterstock

The whirlwind romance came to an abrupt public end around October 1993 with a notorious New York Friars Club roast of Goldberg, at which Danson made a surprise appearance—wearing blackface and tossing off racial slurs. Among his "jokes"? According to a transcript in Spy Magazine, the monologue centered on a scenario in which Danson took Goldberg home to his "stuffy and out-of-touch" parents to find that "[she] fit right in. After she did the laundry and washed the dishes…"

Although the pair defended the act as a co-written send-up of racist attitudes and tabloid stories they had faced, the backlash was severe. TV host Montel Williams quit the guild over it, and Roger Ebert, Spike Lee, and New York City Mayor David Dinkins spoke out publicly against it.

Shortly thereafter, Danson and Goldberg announced their split.

His parents had reportedly pressured him to end things.

Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson in 2016
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Glamour

Many years later, Danson admitted to NPR that the romance had already ended by the time of the roast. But it wasn't until November that the pair issued a statement about it, leading many to assume the headline-making debacle was behind it. However, in a 2013 look back at the breakup, The National Enquirer reported that sources said Danson's parents had been behind the split. "They made plans to wed as soon as he could get a divorce, but under pressure from his parents, he dumped Whoopi," the article states. The Things notes that it was reported at the time that the Cheers star's parents were disappointed that he had broken up his marriage and believed he was having "a midlife crisis."

Although Danson never confirmed the reason for the split, he described the time as "a very adolescent point in [his] life" to NPR. Following the death of his mother in 2006, the actor would also reflect on his parents' influence on his life. "It's a very interesting thing to be the adult, not living under the umbrella of your parents or their gravitational pull or anything," he told The Baltimore Sun. "It's very interesting. You kind of stop and go, 'Oh, the buck stops here.'"

Shortly after the split with Goldberg, the man who was "born married" went on to wed his next co-star, Pontiac Moon's Mary Steenburgen, in 1995. The two are still together, and Steenburgen recently appeared on The View to promote her film, Book Club: The Next Chapter. Goldberg, one of the show's co-moderators, was absent from the episode.

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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