Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
The Sugarland Express, Death Becomes Her, The First Wives Club
Currently Known For:
“I’m not afraid of my femininity and I’m not afraid of my sexuality.” Often linked with the women’s liberation movement in Hollywood thanks to her iconic role in the 1980 film, Private Benjamin, as well as an “I’ll show you” attitude, Goldie Hawn has proven her talents are truly timeless after ending a 15-year hiatus from the spotlight with her return to the silver screen in Snatched in 2017. As one of the most bankable stars over the last four decades, the 72-year-old Hawn first got her start in the 1960s on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In before she made the transition to film with her award-winning performance in Cactus Flower. From there, she snagged starring roles in hits like There’s a Girl in My Soup, Sugarland Express, Seems Like Old Times, and Private Benjamin before launching into the 1990s with Death Becomes Her, Housesitter, and The First Wives Club.
Calling it quits in Hollywood in 2002 after the release of The Banger Sisters, Hawn has spent the last 15 years focusing on her family with her partner of 35 years, actor Kurt Russell, and her children—Oliver Hudson, Kate Hudson, and Wyatt Russell. Then, in late 2016, she was approached by the talented Amy Schumer who begged Hawn to star in her next film, Snatched, which has since ended Hawn’s hiatus and marked a stellar comeback on the silver screen! So, what’s her Hollywood then and now story? Let’s find out!
A Dancing Darling and an Aspiring Actress
“I’m a dreamer with lots of energy and a vivid imagination. That’s the recipe for becoming an entertainer.” One of three children born to a band musician and a jewelry shop and dance school owner, Goldie Jeanne Hawn was born on November 21, 1945 in Washington, D.C. She was raised in Takoma Park, Maryland where her mother put her in dance lessons at the age of three years old. At 10, she performed in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s production of The Nutcracker and went on to make her stage debut as Juliet in the Virginia Shakespeare Festival production of Romeo and Juliet in 1964.
“My parents always supported me, but I was put to task. My father thought when I sang, I was sharp; my mother was upset when I wasn’t in the first line at recitals. But one thing that I had growing up was, ‘Stay real.’ My dad would say, ‘Expectations are greater than realization,’” Hawn said of her childhood. “I never lost touch with that… I was an absolute performer. I would dance and sing in my house. I was exalted by performing. I wanted to be on the Broadway stage. I didn’t think much beyond that because I didn’t think I could. I was a really good ballerina, a really good dancer.”
By the age of 18, Hawn found a great dance studio in Baltimore and splurged on a ’54 Ford, which cost her $50 at the time, to drive the nearly two-hour commute a few nights each week. The same year, she enrolled at American University to study drama but soon dropped out in exchange for running and teaching a ballet school. Before long, she made her professional dancing debut in a production of Can-Can at the New York World’s Fair and then set her sights on New York City where she worked as a go-go dancer at the Peppermint Box in New Jersey.
Saving up every penny she earned dancing, Hawn was 20 years old when she moved to California where she was scheduled to dance at a theater across from Disneyland. “I had never flown over the entire United States before,” Hawn recalled of the trip. “I had $250 saved, but my mom bought my ticket because I’d taken $200 of those dollars and bought a dog. My priorities might have been mixed up, but this little puppy poodle came with me on the plane, and I’ll never forget flying across the desert. I wrote—granted this was after one or two Bloody Marys—but I wrote in my diary, ‘If anyone could doubt the existence of God, then they have to look again.’”
At the time, Hawn had no idea where her life was going and truly believed she would return to the East Coast where she would marry a Jewish dentist and start a family. That, however, wasn’t the case at all as Hawn was picked out of a chorus line and given the part of a “dumb blonde” on the short-lived comedy series, Good Morning, World in 1967. Although the series was canceled, Hawn landed on her feet when she joined the cast of the popular sketch comedy series, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, where her high-pitched giggles and polished performance left audiences wanting more!
Becoming Hollywood’s “It” Girl
“What I wanted in life was happiness, to be honest, and in my young life, I always read about how screwed up Hollywood was. I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to have a normal life. I wanted to have children. And when I was picked out of a chorus line and cast in a TV series, I got anxious…” Hawn’s performance on Laugh-In launched her film career with her first major film role coming in 1969 in Cactus Flower, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Believe it or not, Hawn was at home in bed when she learned she won the award. “I just went to bed because I had a job to do,” she said. “I forgot. And you know what? I’m really happy about that. And then my mom and dad called, and they were crying and happy and so proud of their daughter. And that made me cry.”
Hawn’s career skyrocketed over the next decade as she starred in There’s a Girl in My Soup (1970), Butterflies Are Free (1972), Sugarland Express (1974), and Shampoo (1975). During this time, she took a brief hiatus to focus on her marriage to singer Bill Hudson and to start a family with the birth of their son, Oliver. She returned in 1978 with The Goldie Hawn Special before turning heads when she took the reins of her career and starred in Private Benjamin, a 1980 film she co-produced with her longtime friend and screenwriter Nancy Meyers.
“After I did Private Benjamin, suddenly the reputation was that Goldie Hawn calls her own shots,” Hawn recalled. “I didn’t lie down. I said what I wanted to say. And I believed in the project.” This put her in even greater demand as she starred in Protocol (1984), Wildcats (1986), and Overboard (1987), the latter of which cast her opposite her partner of four years, Kurt Russell. By the next decade, Hawn’s career continued to blossom with credits in Housesitter opposite Steve Martin and The First Wives Club opposite Diane Keaton and Bette Midler. “Even though we were all stars, Hollywood was nervous about the movie,” Hawn said of the film that grossed over $180 million at box offices worldwide. “For First Wives, we took a cut in our salary, we all took a cut in our back end. Because the studios were never sanguine on trusting that women carrying a movie would actually work.”
The First Wives Club was a stellar success and earned Hawn, Keaton, and Midler the Women in Film Crystal Awards. From there, Hawn teamed up with Keaton once again in Town & Country (2001) before going on hiatus in 2002 after the release of The Banger Sisters starring Susan Sarandon and Geoffrey Rush.
Hiatus from Hollywood
“So, curiosity, I think is a really important aspect of staying young or youthful. If you lose wonder, you’ve lost everything.” Hawn took a 15-year break from Hollywood and published her autobiography, A Lotus Grows in Mud, in 2005. “Because I believe life is about doing, it’s about changing, it’s about transitioning,” she said of her break. “I can’t imagine, as a human being, not being able to grow. When I turned 50, I asked some of my girlfriends, all actresses of the same age, ‘What are we going to do now?’ I wanted to go live somewhere for a while, learn archaeology, or take part in healing the world on some level. I wanted to dig deep and say, ‘Who am I now? What do I have to offer? What do I have to learn?’ I started learning about the brain, psychology. And after 9/11, I decided, ‘I know what I’m going to do.’ I ended up writing two books and creating MindUP… I never looked back. I never wished to be acting again. I was so engaged.”
Hawn stayed incredibly busy during her break with the launch of the Hawn Foundation, which helps children around the globe deal with anxiety and stress. She also quietly adopted children from around the globe and even moved to Vancouver, British Columbia so that her son, Wyatt, could pursue his dreams of playing hockey. “I wanted him to have his dream and I wanted to be there as a mom,” Hawn said of the move. She also spent time working on projects with her older children, Kate and Oliver, both of whom are actors.
Hawn’s Grand Return in 2017 and Life Today
Dividing her time with Russell and their children between homes in Vancouver, Colorado, New York, and California, Hawn was perfectly content with her life out of the spotlight until late 2016 when she was approached by actress Amy Schumer. “I accosted her on a plane. I waited until we landed, then I approached her and said there was a movie I was working on and I wanted her to play my mom,” Schumer said of approaching Hawn. “Amy laughed and said, ‘I know you don’t know who I am,’” Hawn said of the meeting. “And I actually didn’t, but I could have eaten her face, she was so damn cute.”
Although nothing else was said at the meeting, Hawn and Schumer ran into one another again months later at an event in London where Hawn agreed to read Schumer’s script for Snatched, a film about a mother-daughter trip that goes awry. Hawn fell in love with the script and knew she ran into Schumer for a reason. “I wanted to do this movie as much for Amy as for me because it’s how she saw her mother,” Hawn said of saying yes to the film.
Hawn returned to the silver screen in 2017 opposite Amy Schumer in Snatched, which also guest stars Joan Cusack, Christopher Melon, Ike Barinholtz, and Wanda Sykes. Although the film received mixed reviews with Hawn earning a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress, nothing can discourage the 72-year-old actress from the joy of returning to the silver screen. “A break from anything we do sometimes is a good thing,” she says of her return. “And I forgot how much fun it was. I forgot about the perks. Three months in the best hotel ever, looking out at the water. When I had to pack up and leave, I shed a tear. We held each other on our last shot and we cried. I came out of that going, ‘Yeah, I could do it again.’” So, what does that mean for Hawn’s future?
Recently celebrating her 35th anniversary with Russell in 2018, Hawn’s personal life is truly full of joy thanks to Russell and her children—Kate, Oliver, and Wyatt. Because of that, Hawn has even more freedom to pursue her greatest interests and has hinted that a television series or even a one-woman Broadway show might be in the works. “There’s so much to say about the decades I’ve lived through,” Hawn says. Whatever the case, any project that comes her way will certainly be on her own terms as Hawn has proven time and time again that she’s far from your normal Hollywood star. “I’ve never gone the normal route, whatever that is, if it even exists.”