Goldie Hawn is the kind of actress who instantly perks up the screen. With her blonde hair, big blue eyes and bubbly personality, she radiates positivity. She first burst onto the scene in the swinging ’60s, and has been an iconic star ever since. And she doesn’t just act — she’s also a talented singer and dancer, and is known for her long commitment to charitable causes.
While Hawn’s career began with her often being typecast in “dumb blonde” roles, she’s gone on to be so much more, and today she’s still going strong at 77. Here’s a look back at Goldie’s early days.
Goldie Hawn in the ’60s
Goldie Hawn initially trained as a dancer, and before she became famous she worked as a ballet teacher in her native Washington, DC. Hawn had dance in her DNA, as her mother was also a dance teacher. While she soon became better known as an actress, she told The Guardian “I consider myself more a dancer than anything else,” and has said that dancing informs her joyful outlook on life.
Hawn’s dancing abilities would soon set her on the path to fame. Following her debut role in the short-lived 1967 sitcom Good Morning World, she joined the cast of the sketch comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
The show, which featured many celebrities of the day as guest stars, and also launched the career of comedy star Lily Tomlin, ran from 1968 to 1973, and was known for its madcap humor and ultra-’60s aesthetic.
On Laugh-In, Hawn wholly embraced her silly side, putting on funny voices and intentionally stumbling over her lines. She also frequently go-go danced wearing only a bikini and body paint, and in doing so became a ’60s legend who embodied the decade’s colorful, anything-goes spirit.
In 1969, Hawn had her first big movie role (she’d previously only had bit parts) in Cactus Flower, a comedy in which she played the young mistress of Walter Matthau’s character. Hawn’s performance was praised for its expressiveness, and she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress — an impressive achievement for her big-screen debut.
She didn’t expect to win the Oscar, and didn’t even show up at the ceremony, something she now says she regrets.
Goldie Hawn in the ’70s
In the 1970s, Goldie Hawn continued her ascent into movie stardom with roles in a variety of decade-defining titles. These included There’s a Girl in My Soup, a 1970 comedy costarring Peter Sellers; Butterflies Are Free, in which she played a sweet San Francisco girl next door in 1972; and Shampoo, a 1975 satire of late-’60s sexual politics that also featured Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.
Another notable role of the decade came in 1974, when she starred as a woman on the run and proved that she could do more than just comedies in The Sugarland Express. The film was the feature directorial debut of none other than Steven Spielberg, who would, of course, go on to become one of the most popular and acclaimed filmmakers of all time.
A couple years later, in 1976, Goldie married musician Bill Hudson (she’d previously been married to Gus Trikonis, an actor and director, from 1969 to 1976). While Hawn’s marriage to Hudson also didn’t last, the couple had two children, Oliver Hudson (born in 1976) and Kate Hudson (born in 1979), who would become famous actors themselves.
Goldie Hawn in the ’80s
Hawn started the 1980s strong, playing the title character in the 1980 hit Private Benjamin. In this fish out of water story, she was a wealthy woman who unwittingly joined the military. The movie marked the screenplay debut of Nancy Meyers, who’d later become one of modern Hollywood’s best-known female writer/directors with delightful rom-coms like Something’s Gotta Give and The Holiday. It was also the first movie Hawn produced, and the role earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
In 1984, Hawn had a role that would be pivotal in her personal life, starring in the World War II period piece Swing Shift. The film may have been a box office flop, but it paired her with Kurt Russell, who she’s been happily partnered with ever since.
While Swing Shift marked the first time sparks flew between Hawn and Russell, it wasn’t actually the first time they met. Russell had an early role in the 1968 live-action Disney movie The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. The musical also gave Hawn her movie debut, in a tiny part credited as “Giggly Girl.”
It wasn’t until 15 years later that they reunited onscreen, and the rest is history. As Hawn recalled, “I was 21 and he was 16 and I thought he was adorable but he was much too young. And then years later we met up again and I liked him and I remembered that I liked him very much when I first met him.” The couple has been together for 40 years (a near-miracle in Hollywood) and they have a son, Wyatt Russell, who was born in 1986.
In 1987, Goldie and Kurt paired up again in Overboard, a frothy rom-com in which she played a wealthy woman who suffers amnesia after falling off her yacht and he played a working-class carpenter. While the film wasn’t well-reviewed, the chemistry between the real-life couple was obvious.
Hawn in the ’90s — and beyond
It’s a sad fact of Hollywood life that memorable roles for women often dry up once they pass 40, but this wasn’t the case for Goldie Hawn. In the ’90s, she carved out a niche for herself acting alongside other mature women, and the decade gave rise to a few of her fan-favorite performances. In Death Becomes Her, a 1992 dark comedy that satirized expectations around female aging, Hawn shared the screen with Meryl Streep and Isabella Rossellini.
In 1996, Hawn was part of another glorious trio of mature actresses, in The First Wives club, a sassy comedy of romantic vengeance featuring Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler as divorcees on a mission to get back at their scoundrel ex-husbands. (Click through to read about 15 unforgettable Bette Midler movies)
Hawn continued to appear regularly in comedies in the ’90s and ’00s, and a new generation of viewers came to know her as “Kate Hudson’s mom.” Her most recent credit was in the 2020 holiday movie The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, in which she played the Mrs. Claus to Kurt Russell’s Santa.
What is she doing now?
While she hasn’t graced our screens for three years, Hawn is always keeping busy. Outside of acting, she’s been a passionate advocate of mindfulness and meditation since the ’70s. In 2003, she founded The Goldie Hawn Foundation (now known as MindUP), a non-profit dedicated to “to help[ing] children develop the knowledge and tools they need to manage stress, regulate emotions and face the challenges of the 21st century with optimism, resilience and compassion.”
She’s also a committed mother and grandmother, and the Hawn/Russell clan is one of Hollywood’s most admired families (Read more about Hawn’s children and grandchildren).
No matter what Goldie does, she’s always delightful to watch. From being a gifted young comic actress to a veteran performer with an admirably long-lasting relationship and commitment to helping others, she’ll forever stand out as one of Hollywood’s best and brightest stars.
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