Goldie Hawn: Legend In Her Time
When Goldie Hawn walked onstage as a presenter at this year’s Academy Awards in her slinky champagne-colored Vera Wang gown, the women gathered in Cathy Gallagher’s Manhasset, NY, home for their annual Oscar party were clearly smitten. “To die for!” gasped one.
“Oh, she looks so good,” purred another to a chorus of agreement. I he women, who came to the event dressed to the teeth, voted Goldie the sexiest woman of the evening. Yet another guest announced her intention to copy the dress for next year’s get-together.
Everyone, it seems, loves the irresistible Goldie. Fashion designers respect her insistence on paying for the clothes she wears, especially when so many stars flaunt their entitlement along with their borrowed couture. And as Burt Reynolds says, “Goldie is like one of EIizabeth Taylor’s diamonds. She has so many facets, you never know where the next sparkle is coming from.”
Yet even at her most fetching, Goldie poses no threat, winch is partly why woe: men find her so lovable. Goldie appears to understand this better than anyone. “I’m a girl’s girl,” she once told The New York Times, “and if I ever turned a woman off, I would be devastated. I do love men…but my sexuality isn’t a weapon or a device. It never has been.”
In fact, Goldie seems like the perfect best friend, a woman who’d rather make you laugh than put you through high drama, who’d be there for you in times of stress or sorrow. She’s the kind of person you’d want to have along if you were stuck in an elevator. And when that actually happened to her and three other people in Century City, CA, the coolheaded Goldie reportedly put her arms around one hysterical woman and calmed her for an hour until help arrived.
Amazingly, it’s been almost 30 years since she frugged and giggled her way to fame as a wide-eyed, body-painted Laugh-In regular. According to Elise, her anxious-actress character in The First Wives Club, “there are only three ages for women in Hollywood–Babe, District Attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy.” But Goldie herself has hung in there, mostly because women wanted her to. And because she figured out how to turn the male-oriented star system to her advantage.
Warren Beatty became the first man in Hollywood to tell Goldie Hawn she was smart, while they were filming Shampoo. Today, most moviegoers realize that the scatterbrained hippiechick of old is one of Hollywood’s sharpest cookies, a double threat as a producer and actress. Or as she has put it, “I’m smarter than people give me credit for. I have a light personality and a deep-thinking brain. Those are two very different things.”
At 51, Goldie is wealthy, famous, and still beautiful, her trim dancer’s body perfectly toned through daily workouts with a personal trainer in a state-of-the-art gym in her home. But we’d trust her with our husbands in a way we wouldn’t trust, say, Sharon Stone. Goldie’s cute and sexy, but there’s nothing manipulative about her. You’d never find her parading her wares in the too gaudy (and revealing) Valentino creation that MTV’s Jenny McCarthy wore to the Oscars. And you’d certainly never see her, like the ubiquitous McCarthy, posing for an ad on a toilet, her panties pulled down around her calves. In fact, Goldie downplays her sensuality through her humor and bubbly personality, and even her hairstyle: How many femmes fatales wear bangs’?
“She doesn’t come across as a dumb blonde–but as a smart, assertive woman who happens to have blond hair,” says psychiatrist Leah Dickstein, M.D., a leader on gender issues and director of the Division of Attitudinal and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. “She’s fun and direct and honest. She doesn’t ridicule others. Instead, she uses her sense of humor toward herself, not against other people.”
At the same time, adds Dickstein, Goldie has a definite code of ethics which she’s quick to defend. “It’s like, `Don’t mess with me, because I’ll let you have it, and you’ll be sorry you started up with me.”‘
She’ll also fight for what she believes is right–sometimes quite literally. Four years ago, Goldie reportedly came out of an antique shop to find a young punk riding off on the bicycle she’d parked outside. The actress chased the thief some 200 yards before collaring him and shoving him off her bike.
It takes spunk to live your convictions, but spunk is something Goldie has in spades. After being away from the screen for several years, she came back in a big way last year (“I’m back and I’m bad,” she purred to a reporter). The First Wives Club earned more than $100 million at the box office. And in the Woody Allen musical film Everyone Says I Love You, Goldie wowed just about everyone with her singing and dancing talents. Both movies furthered the solid reputation she built in Cactus Flower, The Sugarland Express, Butterflies Are Free, and Private Benjamin.
Despite such heady achievements Goldie makes it clear that her No. I priority is family. She’s devoted to her children–Oliver, 21, Katie, 18, and Wyatt 11–whom she calls “my greatest successes.” And though she’s been divorced twice, she’s managed to keep her longtime romance with Kurt Russell not just alive, but fiery. At the same time, she continues to assert her independence–by not winding up back at the altar.
As a child in Takoma Park, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC, “people used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Goldie remembers. “And I’d say, `Happy!’ That was all I wanted to be.”
From the mouths of babes sometimes comes wisdom. And as the following reflections reveal, from the adult Goldie come words to live by–her recipe for a successful, contented life.
ON CHILDHOOD LESSONS
The younger daughter of Edward Rutledge Hawn, a violinist who could trace his ancestors back to a signer of The Declaration of Independence, Goldie found her father could be counted on for sage advice and guidance.
“My father always kept me on the straight and narrow in terms of what was real and what wasn’t. He said, `If you think you’re too big for your britches, just go stand in the ocean and feel how small you really are.’ I always remember that. He [also] told me, `Always look like you know where you’re going. If you need me, the umbilical cord is stretching wherever you are. Don’t pick your nose in public. And put the butter back in the icebox.'”
Goldie learned one of her most important lessons at the age of 12, when she was asked to entertain at a friend’s bar mitzvah. Just as she started her dance routine, she slipped and fell. She got up and collected herself, but as the music started, she fell once more. Finally, on try three, she succeeded. “I realized I was probably the little girl who was going to make it,” she remembers. In other words, it takes perseverance–and extraordinary belief in one’s self–to make it against difficult odds.
“Women run households, they raise children, they have to be very, very tough. And when that power gets into the conference room, sometimes it’s scary…. Women must be real and they must also be feminine…. I’m not afraid of my femininity, and I’m not afraid of my sexuality. it’s not about conniving to get what I want. It’s about being true to who I am and taking pride in it.
“[If] you build your whole life on what a man thinks about you, then, when he leaves you, what other muscle have you developed? Mothers with daughters must learn to teach them now: You cannot give yourself away completely. Figure out what you love, learn about it, invest in it. Travel alone. State your claims. If your man plays golf three times a week, tell him that `In one year, it’s equal to two weeks of me being alone, so I’m going to Burma,’ or wherever.
“These things are very important for a relationship. They have nothing to do with love. They have to do with self-esteem…. [When my daughter, Katie, was thirteen, I’d say to her,] `Please don’t go to the boys for your esteem. You’ve not to feel good about yourself.'”
“Women are the healers and the caretakers and the heart of the home. They are very powerful.
“When I’m in my home, I’m the happiest person alive…. My phones go off. I don’t take business calls there. I don’t want my children to have to compete with that. My children and my home life are very important to me, but I’m not forfeiting my life, my career. I’ve tried to combine them, and I’m finding you can do it very, very easily.
“The key to raising children is mutual respect and admiration…but there must also be standards…of right and wrong. I don’t let my children curse in this house. That’s something I’ve always been a real stickler about. I don’t like bad language. Period. Not allowed.”
After two failed marriages, to dancer/ director Gus Trikonis and actor Bill Hudson, Goldie describes Kurt Russell as both her best friend and her “lover for life.” Finding such a relationship was no accident.
“I’ve been consistently happy for [many] years, and that’s due to meeting the right man and the tremendous freedom we allow each other…. He’s extremely supportive of me, and I’m supportive of him. We have tremendous respect for each other’s opinions…. Whenever the daily pressures begin to erode our romance, we refocus on what we had when we first met, because neither of us wants to live without that.
“We stay together because we want to. We’re very much in love, and I know how rare it is to stay together like we have done in this business for this amount of time…. But doing our own things keeps a certain amount of mystery between us. And I love that. You know, I never get undressed in front of Kurt. I just give him glimpses.”
Though early on in their relationship, Goldie hinted that she and Kurt might someday marry, she now says she doesn’t think it will ever happen. In 1991, the couple took a vote and let the kids, including Boston, Kurt’s son from his marriage to actress Season Hubley, decide whether they should or shouldn’t tie the knot. The outcome? Thumbs-down. Today, Goldie simply wears a brace of diamond love rings on her left hand, but no wedding band. “I call Kurt my husband, and he calls me his wife,” she has said. “We’re not living in sin; we’re living in love.”
“Marriage has caused us both a lot of grief. And we look at each other and I think, `Gee, I just love you too much to put that ring on your finger.’
“I don’t like fusion. I think it’s dangerous. You lose personal power…. People change when they get married. Something happens…. [But] the truth is, Kurt called me the other night and said, `Marry me and take me away from all this.’ We tease each other a lot.”
ON BEING A DAUGHTER
Goldie was especially close to her mother, Laura, the proprietor of a dance school who named her daughter for a favorite aunt. After Laura suffered a heart attack, Kurt and Goldie took her into their home and cared for her themselves. Goldie put her career on hold until after Laura’s death in 1993.
“When elephants are dying, the rest of the herd gather round and support them. I know just how they feel because I did that with my mom.
“I had performed for my mother in her living room and performed for her until the day she died. Now there was nobody to perform for except me. It threw my life back onto my lap.”
A dedicated New Ager who daily drinks a “green juice” of celery, kale, parsley, and peppers–and adheres to a diet free of wheat, sugar, and dairy products–Goldie has installed a shrine in her L.A. home, which she calls a “sanctuary to house my spirit.” There, Goldie, who long ago incorporated meditation into her everyday life, is surrounded by crystals, prayer beads, and Buddhas.
“I was raised Jewish, although not in a strict religious atmosphere. If I would call myself anything, it would be a Buddhist. In my quiet moments, even as a child, I would find great solace in the concept of a higher energy. I don’t look at Buddhism as a religion; I look at it as a path to life.”
When she turned 50 last year, Goldie took one look at her backside, decided it could be firmer, and hired an exercise coach. Unlike her character in the black comedy Death Becomes Her, Goldie knows there’s no magic elixir to reverse aging or defy gravity. But by routinely leg-pressing 105 pounds, treading the StairMaster, bicycling around her neighborhood, swimming, hiking, and running, she’s sure managed to keep a lot of it at bay.
“Someone asked me recently, `Now that you’re older, don’t you wish you could play the ingenue just one more time?’ And I said, `Are you nuts?!’ I love this stage of my life. You know what I’ve discovered too? As a young woman, you’re never that sure of anything. It was hard for me to make real girlfriends because of competitiveness. And now, getting older, it’s so great. We’re more sure of ourselves and can have relationships with each other that aren’t about competitiveness.
“People always ask, `How does it feel to turn fifty?’ Well, you know, I could be dead. I’m here. I’m making the most of everything. I feel better than ever. And the good news is, I know who I am and I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished. Now my focus is moving on to the next stage of my life. And that is about who I want to be at sixty, who I want to be at seventy, who I want to be at eighty. I want to move in a fashion that helps me through the transition of letting go of motherhood and moving into my womanhood. Using my feminine power, my feminine energy to continue to express myself. To teach and learn and accomplish things. I still have a lot to do.”
ON TRUE HAPPINESS
Goldie knows that nobody truly “has it all,” no matter how it looks to others. But some people come pretty close. And a positive outlook has a lot to do with it.
“Women can do four hundred things at once, because we’re equipped to do it. I don’t know why. We’re able to juggle. We can be strong, we can be smart and have an effect on society, but we can also be mothers and be warm and loving. Sometimes you think you’re never going to make it, but you do make it. Sometimes you hug your pillow and cry at night, but this doesn’t mean that life is bad. It just means that’s the way it is. Life is rich.
“I wouldn’t want to change my fate. I like who I am. I know I have faults; everybody does. I have neuroses and fears…. But I want to experience what’s natural and real. Crying is as important as a good laugh. I look at life for all that it is and all that it isn’t. Whatever it is, it’s there to be lived to the fullest. You can go for it all, and you may get it. But if you don’t, the important thing is to remember to be happy for whatever you do get.”