December 18, 1995 12:00 PM

ON LARRY KING LIVE BACK IN April 1994, Whoopi Goldberg announced her engagement to union organizer Lyle Trachtenberg. “Lyle’s a real normal guy,” she told King. “He’s got a regular 9-to-5 job. This is kind of a first for me.”

But opposites don’t always stay attracted. On Oct. 26, 1995, a year after the couple were married at her seven-bedroom Pacific Palisades, Calif., home—with the words “F—k Off” painted on the roof as a message to circling media copters—Goldberg, fortysomething, quietly filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Since she did so under her real name, Caryn Johnson, it remained a well-kept secret until Dec. 2, when the New York Daily News printed the story. Ironically, being married to such a normal guy seems to have hurt the marriage. “They’ve been mismatched from the beginning,” a friend of Goldberg’s says. While Goldberg has been on movie locations for much of the last year, Trachtenberg, 41, commuted to work from her $2.5 million Pacific Palisades spread. Their worlds seemed at times worlds apart.

But that may only have been part of the problem. Around the time Trachtenberg was moving out—the couple separated on Oct. 17, according to the divorce papers—Goldberg was moving on. While the actress was in New York City this fall shooting Eddie, a new Disney release, romance was apparently blooming between her and costar Frank Langella, 55, best known as the star of 1977’s Dracula and currently appearing in Cutthroat Island with Geena Davis. The two were spotted taking a cozy carriage ride through Central Park, and the Daily News reported them seriously snuggling at a performance of Patti LuPone on Broadway. “Frank swept Whoopi off her feet,” says a source who worked on the set of Eddie. Goldberg, who has been romantically linked with past costars Timothy Dalton and Ted Danson, refused to comment, as did Langella. But Langella’s wife, Ruth, with whom he has two children, ages 12 and 14, filed for divorce on Nov. 7, one day after the couple’s 18th anniversary.

Goldberg and Trachtenberg met in 1993 on the set of Corrina, Corrina, where he was unionizing crew members, around the time she and Danson announced their breakup. If there is any consolation for Trachtenberg, it may be that the relationship ran its course so quickly that he still has his rent-controlled Santa Monica apartment. As for Goldberg, the split seems almost a fulfillment of something she told Larry King when she announced her engagement. “It’s really interesting,” she said of her involvement with Trachtenberg. “[He has his] own life, and I’m allowed to have my life too.”

DAN JEWEL

JESS SCHNAUFER in Los Angeles

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