Goldie Hawn was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, on November 21, 1945, to Laura (Stienhoff) Hawn, a dance school owner and jewelry wholesaler, and Edward Rutledge Hawn, a professional musician. Hawn was raised Jewish although, she notes, “not in a strictly religious atmosphere,” and describes a happy home life. She began dancing at age three, and danced in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s Nutcracker chorus at age ten. Hawn recalls being asked to dance on point for a friend’s bar mitzva. The music started, and she slipped and fell—twice. Succeeding on her third attempt, “I realized I was probably the little girl who was going to make it.”
After graduating high school, Hawn attended American University while running her own ballet school. Two years later, she moved to New York City to pursue acting and dance seriously. To support herself, she danced in the Texas Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, at numerous clubs, and in the chorus of touring Broadway musicals. Producers from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In spotted her dancing on an Andy Griffith television special in 1967 and hired her as a regular. Hawn’s endearing giggles and improvisational ability on Laugh-In (1968–1970) earned her an Emmy and, less welcome, comments about her “dumb-blonde routine.” Her character, Hawn clarifies, “was a deeply joyful blonde. I never thought of her as dumb.”
In 1969, Hawn won a “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for the film Cactus Flower. She went on to a critically acclaimed dramatic role in Steven Spielberg’s first film, Sugarland Express. With 1980’s highly successful comedy Private Benjamin, she added the role of executive producer to that of star. In perhaps her most accomplished performance, Hawn shows Benjamin’s metamorphosis from selfish, stereotypical Jewish American Princess to self-aware, empowered woman in charge. Behind the camera, Hawn faced the challenges common to women filmmakers in the traditionally male-dominated industry. “Women’s power in Hollywood is not an easy thing to come by,” she says. “A woman is constantly tempering her own point of view, her own passion.” But, Hawn remembers, “I just stuck to my guns … and this was hard because I didn’t want people to see me as a bitch.”
Hawn values her independence, although she believes “it’s hard for any woman. Women run households, they raise children, they have to be very, very tough. I always saw my mother working, so I never grew up thinking that a man would take care of me, ever.” She also stresses the importance of family and states that her main goal in life has been “to be a good mother.” Her 1969 marriage to dancer Gus Trikonis ended in 1974. Hawn had two children, Oliver (b. 1976) and Kate (b. 1977), with musician Bill Hudson, whom she married in 1976 and divorced in 1980. Since 1983 Hawn has lived with actor Kurt Russell, whom she met on the set of the film Swing Shift. Hawn and Russell’s family includes Kate, Oliver, Boston (b. 1980, Russell’s son from a former marriage), and Wyatt (b. 1986).
Hawn is one of the most successful women in Hollywood. She has acted in over thirty films; in 1996 she was seen in The First Wives Club, which quickly made over $100 million at the box office, and in Woody Allen’s musical film Everybody Says I Love You. She continues to produce, including the 1995 blockbuster Something to Talk About, and runs Cherry Alley Productions with Teri Schwartz. Hawn has made eight trips to India since her first in 1980, most recently to film In the Wild, a 1996 PBS documentary on saving the elephants.
Bachrach, Judy. “Goldie’s Big Splash.” Vanity Fair (January 1997); “Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All: Goldie.” Tatler (December 1996); Ellerbee, Linda. “The Goldie Years.” Live (October 1996); Fuller, Graham. “The Goldie Rush.” Interview (September 1996); James, Ryan. “Hawn in Her Golden Years: Forever Blond, Forever Smart.” NYTimes, December 1, 1996, sec. 2, p. 13; Marshall, Leslie. “Goldie Hawn: At Home with Her Family in Los Angeles.” In Style 3, no. 8 (August 1996); Michaelson, Judith. “Goldie Hawn: Just a Homebody After All?” Los Angeles Times, December 24, 1987, pt. 6, p. 1.
How to cite this page
Borden, Anne. "Goldie Hawn." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 24, 2019) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/hawn-goldie>.