Comedic actress who gained recognition for her role in The Color Purple and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost.
From 1979 to 1981, she worked in several theater productions in Communist East Germany, where she smuggled contraband for her artist friends.
She is one of very few actors to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony Award, and her name comes from the whoopee cushion toy.
She married Alvin Martin in 1973, and the couple had one daughter before divorcing in 1979.
She starred in the film adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple.