The comic icon talks about what matters most
Even after four decades in the rarified, peculiar world that is the film industry, Goldie Hawn is almost disconcertingly real.
On a perfect LA day, just weeks before the release of action-comedy Snatched, her first film in 15 years, the comic icon is the still center of a Hollywood publicity storm. It’s only mid-morning and she’s already had a phone interview from China, is about to begin a photo shoot at the newly built Pacific Palisades home she shares with her longtime love, actor Kurt Russell, and a camera crew for the next appointment is pulling up to the curb. Yet Goldie, 71, is filled with energy, focus, and is surprisingly...happy. Smoothing the folds of the layered black tulle dress she’s picked out for the shoot, she offers a radiant smile. “I love it,” she exclaims. “I love my ballerina dress!”
The joyous friendliness is no act. Four years ago, a mutual friend introduced Goldie to Cambria CEO and President Marty Davis and their first dinner together in Los Angeles bloomed into the kind of instant friendship Goldie calls “a meeting of souls.” “My mother once told me, ‘Goldie, you don’t know a stranger,’” she explains, referencing the Southern saying that encourages people to befriend one another. “Marty’s the same.” Through the friendship, Goldie learned about Cambria natural quartz, and in 2016, when she and Kurt, who had downsized as empty nesters, reversed course and decided to build a home large enough to accommodate their five grandchildren, she made a call to Cambria. Right away, VP of Design Joe Marso flew to Los Angeles to help the star pick out designs that would best complement what Goldie describes as “classic, traditional” decor. Today, a host of Cambria quartz designs adorn the home’s walk-up bar, outdoor baker’s rack, a stair alcove, the garage, and a powder room for which the company—at Goldie’s request—created a custom chair rail trim. “Cambria is a beautiful product!” Goldie says. “There are abundant choices; so many designs that are also indestructible! It’s a great, great material.”
Indestructibility matters, for although Goldie’s new home is large, it’s also comfortable and unpretentious: a lived-in house, with her grandkids’ bikes leaning on their kickstands near the garage. Belief that family is the bedrock of everything is a value that family-owned Cambria and Goldie share. If the actress reached the top through a combination of talent, fierce drive, and a little luck, she’s maintained that stratospheric level of success because she never forgot how she got there.
“Family is the place we start to learn about everything,” she says. She speaks thoughtfully, her voice deeper and richer than one might expect, utterly without the giddiness that became her trademark. “I remember being asked, a long time ago, ‘Who are you first, a producer, actress, mother, or wife?’” she recalls. “I said, ‘None of those, I’m a daughter first.’ I wanted to be the best daughter I could be, and I believe that was the beginning of who I am.”
Who Goldie is, she emphasizes, begins with an innate sense of joy that has been there as long as she remembers (she’s described herself as “compelled to continuously see the bright side”). With that joy comes tenacity and a profound work ethic, qualities acquired at home. Goldie wasn’t born into money or Hollywood royalty. Her father, Edward, was a professional musician, “a dreamer, creative, and poetic.” Her mother, Laura, ran a gift shop. “She was a business gal. A real straight arrow and a taskmaster. They were both people who didn’t give up and worked very hard for a living.” When Laura Hawn opened a ballet school, three-year-old Goldie became one of its first students. By her teens, she’d dropped out of college to dance professionally.
Her rise came quickly thereafter. She was in her early twenties when she was “yanked out of the chorus line” and into her first TV role, which led to breakthrough appearances on the immensely popular sketch comedy program Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. But it wasn’t necessarily easy. “If you want to be a dancer you can’t give up,” she says. “When you’re learning how to do a pirouette, you don’t stop if you fall over. You do it again and again and again. You dance with bleeding toes. You dance with teachers who are putting sticks under your leg, telling you to hold your leg higher. You work through not being able to walk down the steps at school because you went back to dance class and you’re so sore. You must have the passion and will to get through it.
“My parents were very vested in me both as a person and as a performer,” she adds. “I remember once at dinner, my older sister said she was worried because I hadn’t learned to type. She said, ‘What’s Goldie going to do?’ My mom said, ‘She’s going to dance, that’s what!’ My dad said, ‘No, she’s going to act first, sing second, and dance third.’
“There was a time when I was dancing in LA and so wanted to come home,” she continues. “My father told me, ‘You know, the umbilical cord stretches 3,000 miles. Just have fun, do what you’re doing, and do it well.’”
Goldie’s deep bond with her parents lasted the rest of their lives. Edward Hawn died in 1982, and Laura in late 1993; Goldie says she had the “privilege” of caring for her mother at the end of her life. “The day she died was her 80th birthday. I wanted to be next to her but it didn’t happen.... She hadn’t slept all night and her nurse was washing her and said ‘Happy birthday.’ She squeezed the nurse’s hand, smiled, and passed. I missed her by ten minutes.” She takes a deep breath. “It was pretty rough. Losing your mother is something you can’t believe will really happen. It took a year for me to get to where I wasn’t always feeling that grief. I did a lot of spiritual work at that time—I needed it.”
At the same time, Goldie says “as a child you learn what you see, and later, you’re infused with what your parents give you.” She was passionate about creating an equally strong parental bond with her own children: she once said that her main goal in life was to be a good mother. Today, Kate and Oliver Hudson and Wyatt Russell are grown, with their own successful careers, and Kate, with whom Goldie has appeared on several magazine covers, has credited her own “confidence that I have as a woman” to “the closeness that I have with mommy.” Goldie takes profound pleasure in being a grandmother and hosting her grandkids. “It makes me really happy when I hear their little feet in the morning!” she says.
She carries a larger love for children in general, though she says, “I can’t answer why I have that innate love for these small beings that are coming into the world. Except they matter.” Post 9/11, she established the Hawn Foundation, the aim of which is to teach children the skills needed to navigate a stressful, challenging world. Creating the foundation’s program was an effort into which Goldie poured her attention during the years she took off from film. “People told me it couldn’t be done and I said, ‘well I don’t care, I’m putting this show on the road,’” she says with some satisfaction. The result is MindUp, a program created with a neurologist that teaches mindfulness, empathy, and resilience—and now reaches some two million children in nine countries.
The morning moves on. On the street, the waiting camera crew unpacks. Goldie, glowing, twirls in her “ballerina dress” as if she has all the time in the world. Happiness seems to pour off her, and her father’s adage, “have fun, do what you’re doing, and do it well,” is an almost audible echo.
“My sister and I didn’t grow up with a lot of money but we grew up with love—and laughter,” she says. “My parents gave us love, devotion, and attention, the most important things we can give to our children. All the things I’ve done and am have been because they taught me to believe yeah, I can do that.”
The Hawn Foundation offers programs that teach children practices to improve learning and academic performance, as well as social and emotional skills that build resilience. Learn more at MINDUP.ORG.