The daughter of a Presbyterian musician father and a Jewish mother who was a jewelry wholesaler and dance school owner-administrator, Goldie Hawn
was born in the USA's capital and raised in Tacoma Park, MD.
Having begun her training in ballet and tap-dancing
at the age of three, she was dancing in
the chorus of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
production of The Nutcracker at age ten. Hawn
made her acting debut at age 16 in
Williamsburg, Virginia, playing Juliet
in a Virginia Stage Company production
of Shakespeare's classic.
By 17, she was running her
own dance studio where she
taught ballet to pay her college tuition. Hawn
abandoned her drama studies at American
University at age 18 and headed for NYC
to pursue a career as a professional dancer.
Her debut in this arena came in 1964
performing Can-Can at the Texas Pavilion
of the New York World's Fair.
She subsequently worked in NYC as a go-go dancer
and sang and danced in revivals of Guys and Dolls
and Kiss Me, Kate. Other
hoofing gigs took
her to Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The latter locale was the setting for her first big break.
Hawn was "discovered" dancing in the chorus
line of a 1967 Andy Griffith TV special. An agent singled her out,
signed her and got her cast in a supporting
role on a sitcom, Good Morning, World (CBS,
1967-68). Hawn's winning portrayal of a
gossipy neighbor on the one-season sitcom
quickly landed her work the following season
as a featured performer on the landmark
comedy variety revue Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
(NBC, 1968-70). She danced, giggled and jiggled,
covered with body paint and a bikini.
America took notice as did the Television Academy
which gave her two Emmy nods.
British critic David Thomson
has written, "I don't think any film has ever captured
the lyrical blonde naivete that Goldie showed on
TV's 'Laugh-In'. She is usually pert and engaging:
amiability perches on her high, child's voice and
gurgles from her baby's mouth. The eyes are still eyes from Lolita's face."
Hawn's film acting career
got rolling with a winning portrayal
of a ditsy Greenwich Village salesgirl
having an affair with a "married" dentist
in Cactus Flower (1969). Even working
alongside such veterans as Walter Matthau
(playing the deceptive amorous dentist)
and Ingrid Bergman
(playing his repressed but adoring receptionist), Hawn
won the critical raves and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
She continued in the nice and nubile
nincompoop mode opposite Peter Sellers
in There's a Girl in My Soup
(1970). $ (1971) offered a change-of-pace
role as a prostitute embroiled in a bank
heist with Warren Beatty. Butterflies
Are Free (1972), a romantic comedy, returned
her to a more comfortably kooky character
in love with a blind neighbor (Edward Albert). Hawn
truly displayed her dramatic chops
in her next film project, The Sugarland
director Steven Spielberg's
feature bow. As petty criminal Lou Jean Poplin,
she showed the downside of kooky immaturity,
playing a mother whose child is taken away
after she is deemed unfit by the courts. Lou Jean
breaks her weak-willed husband (William Atherton)
out of a pre-release facility to aid her
in her quest to get back their child.
Their initially comic misadventures escalate
to a tragic conclusion. Hawn
has never been better but the film,
though scoring with the press, bombed at the box office.
Hawn continued to display new depths
in such projects as The Girl from Petrovka
(1974) and, again with Warren Beatty, in Hal
Ashby's Shampoo (1975). She enjoyed a huge
popular success opposite Chevy Chase
in the romantic caper Foul Play
(1978) but that pair proved less
palatable in their follow-up Seems Like Old Times (1980).
Hawn marked her debut as an
executive producer with one
of her biggest hits, Private Benjamin (1980).
She was perfectly cast as a caricatured
"Jewish American Princess" who grows up through a
stint in the Army. Hawn received an Oscar
nomination for Best Actress for her efforts.
She received the worst press of her career
in the wake of rumors about her
on the period romantic comedy-drama Swing Shift (1984).
Director Jonathan Demme accused Hawn of re-cutting
the film to play up her character at the expense
of impressive supporting player Christine Lahti.
The beloved Goldie emerged as the villain
at the time though subsequent reports have suggested
a different version of events. In any event, the film
was a critical and commercial failure.
Protocol (1984), Hawn joined
costume-designer-turned-producer Anthea Sylbert
in the Hawn/Sylbert Movie Company
to produce a string of mostly mediocre starring vehicles which tended to make modest profits. Thanks to her winning screen persona, Hawn survived with her star status intact.
In the early 90s, Hawn tried to
appear in a wider variety of films than
the comedies with which she had become associated.
She replaced Meg Ryan
to play a compulsive liar opposite a
befuddled Steve Martin in the
comedy Housesitter (1992), but her other credits
included the Mel
Gibson actioner Bird on a Wire (1990), the failed
Hitchcockian "woman in jeopardy" pic Deceived
(1991) and Crisscross (1992),
a surprisingly effective and gritty story
about a welfare mother raising her son
in a seamy part of Key West. Hawn was less sympathetic than
usual teamed with Meryl Streep
and Bruce Willis in Robert Zemeckis' elaborate black
comedy fantasy Death Becomes Her (1992).
After a four-year hiatus from the screen, Hawn
joined forces with Diane Keaton
and Bette Midler
in the hit comic romp The First Wives Club (1996).
Hawn had obvious fun as an aging Hollywood star
who turns to plastic surgery to remain competitive in an
industry where women are relegated to three roles, "babe, district attorney and 'Driving Miss Daisy'." Later that year, she returned
to her musical roots, singing and dancing
as Woody Allen's ex-wife (now married to Alan Alda)
in Allen's Everybody Says I Love You.
She also had several projects in various stages of
development as a producer. Hawn moved behind the cameras to make her directorial debut with the TV-movie Hope (TNT, 1997), a coming of age tale set in Arkansas.
After a brief hiatus, Hawn returned in
front of the camera teamed with Steve Martin
in the uneven remake of The Out-of-Towners
(1999). She then co-starred with Warren Beatty
and Diane Keaton in Town & Country
(2001), a comedy about marriage that became
known for its protracted filming and troubled
production history. As a producer, Hawn
oversaw the well-recieved TV-movies
When Billie Beat Bobby (ABC, 2001),
and The Matthew Shepard Story (NBC, 2001).
She was next seen on the big screen
teamed with Susan Sarandon as former groupies who
reunite in The Banger Sisters (2002).