There’s a lot of compromising nicknames in Hollywood, but few are as enduring as Whoopi Goldberg. The actor’s granddaughter Amara Skye Dean recently detailed the reason behind the unique moniker: “She likes to fart a lot,” even once having participated in a flatulence contest with her fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

Dean told a slighty-tweaked version of the story on a new episode of Claim to Fame, ABC’s reality series where relatives of celebrities convene to guess their fellow contestants’ famous family members, while keeping their own a secret. In a clip (via EW), Dean begins recounting an anecdote to a fellow contestant: “One time we were in an elevator and they just start fartin’,” she says of her anonymous relative, going on to detail her embarrassment when a stranger eventually joined them on the foul-smelling elevator.

In a talking head, however, Dean explains that she actually wasn’t in the elevator at all. “My favorite story that my grandmother has told me [is] about her, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal, standing in an elevator,” she explained. “Robin Williams was just farting his life away. I guess they were Dutch Oven-ing each other, just basking in the ambience of farts. My grandma got her name because she likes to fart a lot. So, whoopee cushion, farts… and that’s how Caryn Johnson became Whoopi Goldberg.”


Goldberg, Williams, and Crystal used to host HBO’s TV special Comic Relief, but it was probably difficult to find some relief in the elevator that day. You can watch Dean explain the story in tonight’s (August 8th) episode of Claim to Fame on ABC.

In 2020, Goldberg starred as Mother Abagail in CBS All Access’ adaptation of Stephen King’s 1978 novel The Stand.