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Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg: The Affair That Cost Him $30 Million and a Divorce

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Eric Robert / Sygma / Sygma / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Eric Robert / Sygma / Sygma / Getty Images

Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson began a whirlwind romance that started out very hush-hush. Eventually, however, their secret was exposed to the public. It cost one of them a whole lot, including a divorce and $30 million.

Their romance began on set

Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson back to back in a promo shoot for 'Made in America'
Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson in a publicity portrait for the film Made In America, 1993. (Photo Credit: Warner Brothers / Getty Images)

Goldberg and Danson first met when they appeared on an episode of The Arsenio Hall Show back in 1988. They remained friends following this, but co-starring in the 1993 film Made in America helped turn their friendship into something more romantic.

At the time, Danson had been married to his second wife Cassandra Coates for years. Goldberg and Danson’s affair began during filming, and it became a big ordeal after their secret was revealed by the press.

The discovery of their affair was the final straw in Danson’s marriage

Ted Danson and Cassandra Coates on a red carpet.
Ted Danson and Casey Coates during 38th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, United States. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images)

Apparently, even before his affair with Goldberg, Danson’s marriage was on shaky ground. Over the course of 16 years, the two had grown apart, especially after Coates suffered a stroke. The stroke occurred while she was giving birth to their second daughter, and caused her to become paralyzed.

While Danson was there to support her as she learned to walk again, the health scare caused “a huge rift between” the two. Danson later explained that there was “A massive lack of trust. We were adjusting to the fact that we weren’t the same people we were before it happened.”

News of the affair with Goldberg spread quickly, and it became a very public matter. When Coates discovered the infidelity, she promptly filed for divorce, which cost Danson a pretty penny. Not only did she walk away with their two children, but she also took $30 million from him as well. It was one of the most expensive celebrity divorces at the time.

They both moved on pretty quickly

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen on a red carpet.
Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen during The 30th Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, United States. (Photo Credit: KMazur / WireImage / Getty Images)

Goldberg and Danson continued their relationship following the latter’s split from his second wife, but it didn’t last long. They only dated for about 18 months before they too called it quits.

Tabloids at the time ran a story saying that the two had discussed marriage, but that there was one very specific reason why the couple didn’t work out. They said that Danson was “under pressure from his parents,” who apparently didn’t approve of the relationship, so “he dumped Whoopi.” It is unclear if these claims were ever true. However, their split couldn’t have been all that difficult, as both moved on pretty quickly.

Goldberg married her third husband, Lyle Trachtenberg, just a year after the breakup, but that relationship didn’t last long either. They were only married for a year before separating. Danson went on to star in Pontiac Moon in 1994, where he met co-star Mary Steenburgen.

The two hit it off, got married in 1995, and have been together ever since. In regard to this marriage, he has said, “When I die, I will have known in this life what it is to love as a human being and to be loved, and I am so grateful.”

Goldberg has one major regret about the whole ordeal

Whoopi Goldberg resting her head in her hand at a table.
Whoopi Goldberg on The View. (Photo Credit: Lou Rocco / ABC / Getty Images)

Reflecting on their past romance, Goldberg has admitted there is one regret she has about the whole thing. “It was really painful, and it was very public,” she explained. “And the loss of his friendship hurts a great deal. We can never go and have a soda, anywhere.”

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After parting ways, it seems the two were not able to maintain any semblance of a relationship. “I’m friends with almost every man I’ve gone out with, except this man,” she said.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!