On this day in 1990, the romantic-thriller Ghost, starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg, opens in theaters across the United States. The film, about a woman who communicates with her murdered husband through a sassy psychic, was a box-office hit and received multiple Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Goldberg, who played psychic Oda Mae Brown, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She became only the second African-American actress to win an Academy Award. (In 1939, Hattie McDaniel was named Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a slave governess in Gone With the Wind.) Written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry Zucker, Ghost contained the now-iconic love scene, set to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers, in which Sam (Swayze) communes with Molly (Moore) while she is sitting at a potter’s wheel.
The three stars of Ghost all rose to prominence in Hollywood in the 1980s. Patrick Swayze, born in 1952, was a professional dancer who appeared in such films as The Outsiders (1983) and Red Dawn (1984) before his breakout performance in Dirty Dancing (1987). After Ghost, his film credits included Point Break (1991), City of Joy (1992) and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newman (1995). In 2008, Swayze announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died in September 2009 at the age of 57.
Demi Moore, who was born in 1962, became famous in the 1980s as a member of the so-called “Brat Pack” cast of St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), which co-starred Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Mare Winningham. Following the success of Ghost, she was cast in a number of big-budget films in the 1990s, including A Few Good Men (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Striptease (1996) and G.I. Jane (1997). After taking a break from Hollywood for several years, Moore appeared in 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. She was married to the actor Bruce Willis, with whom she has three daughters, from 1987 to 2000. In 2005, Moore wed the actor Ashton Kutcher, who is 15 years her junior.
Whoopi Goldberg, who was born in 1955, had previously received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985). Her lengthy list of film credits also includes Sister Act (1991) and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998). In 2007, Goldberg replaced Rosie O’Donnell as a co-host of the daytime talk show The View.