NEW YORK (AP) — Whoopi Goldberg received a standing ovation from the audience and hugs from her castmates as she returned to "The View."

Goldberg surprised everyone as she appeared on the ABC program Thursday, less than a week after she said in a video that she nearly died of pneumonia.

The audience chanted "Whoopi!" and castmates Joy Behar, Abby Hunstman, Meghan McCain, Sunny Houstin and Ana Navarro leaped out of their seats.

Goldberg says she plans to gradually return to the show as she recovers, saying "I'm not there yet, but the only way it's going to get better is if I begin, so this is my beginning."

The 63-year-old had been absent since Feb. 6. In a video last Friday, she said "I came very, very close to leaving the Earth."

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