Goldie Hawn making happiness into worldwide crusade

For movie star Goldie Hawn inner peace has become her international mission. Photo /  Getty Images
For movie star Goldie Hawn inner peace has become her international mission. Photo / Getty Images

What happens to Hollywood superstars when they semi-retire? They meditate, of course. And if anyone is going to do it with a smile on her face, it's Goldie Hawn.

Except for her, inner peace has turned into an international mission. This week, Hawn is in the UK to promote her meditation manual, 10 Mindful Minutes. Already a New York Times bestseller, the book is aimed at parents and teachers in the hope they will encourage children to practise the basics of yoga and meditation.

In recent years, Hawn, 66, has reinvented herself as a philanthropist and sort of "mindfulness campaigner". Because, if she wants such a job description to exist, she will make it happen. She launched educational trust the Hawn Foundation in 2005, with the motto: "To create the leaders of tomorrow we need to nurture the children of today."

The foundation specialises in teaching social and emotional skills to enhance children's academic performance.

It uses a programme called MindUP that Hawn developed with neurologist Judy Willis using forms of meditation and "mindfulness".

One US reviewer puts it: "Goldie Hawn has always been the perfect role model for happiness." A recent profile described her as "the most deliriously contented person alive".

But is she really? Last week, there was the surprise announcement that Hawn has withdrawn from the forthcoming HBO series The Viagra Diaries, the new show from Sex and the City creator Darren Star. Hawn was set to play the lead as a woman abandoned by her midlife crisis husband and facing life alone for the first time in 35 years.

There have been online rumours of "creative differences" and tales of numerous men reading opposite Hawn and somehow things not working out. Doubtless Hawn will find some way to put a positive spin on affairs.

She claims not to be remotely bitter about her career in recent years and in an interview admitted: "It's a young person's game."

Despite her current lack of big roles Hawn's movies have generated so much goodwill that she has remained a significant Hollywood figure whose comic persona is an abiding influence on younger performers. If she wasn't hugely popular, Joan Rivers would not have been able to get away with telling this joke about Hawn's face on the David Letterman show last month : "She's been pulled so tight, they say that when she swallows she has an orgasm."

Hawn is held in huge esteem by her public, in part because she clawed her way up into Hollywood the old-fashioned way, via the chorus line. Born in Washington, DC, her mother was the daughter of Jewish immigrants and Hawn was raised in the faith and now usually refers to herself as "Jewish-Buddhist".

She took ballet and tap lessons from the age of 3 and danced in professional ballet at the age of 10. She dropped out of a drama major at the American University in Washington, DC, to take up professional dance which eventually led to a role in the 1967 sitcom Good Morning, World. Her reputation as the ditzy blonde with the infectious laugh was born.

Already a household name for her comic turns in Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, her most critically acclaimed role came in 1969 with an Academy Award for best supporting actress for Cactus Flower alongside Ingrid Bergman and Walter Matthau. In 1975, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in Shampoo opposite Warren Beatty.

In the 1980s, Hawn went back into cabaret with Liza Minnelli, winning four Emmys for their joint show.

And she diversified into producing with Private Benjamin (in which she also starred, garnering an Academy Award nomination for best actress). The 1990s were a real heyday: Death Becomes Her, The First Wives Club and Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You were box office hits, as was Bird on a Wire opposite Mel Gibson (although it was panned by the critics). In the late 90s, things slowed down, while it's best not to remember 2001's Town & Country with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton, which was made for US$90 million ($109 million) and took just US$7 million at the box office.

On and off screen, Goldie Hawn swung between being a sort of hippie version of Doris Day and an early blonde prototype of Tina Fey.

In 1985, at the age of 39, she posed for the cover of Playboy in a giant glass. She epitomised the sort of woman who is coming back into force with movies such as Bridesmaids: sexy and funny at the same time.

Hawn met long-term partner Kurt Russell at auditions for Swing Shift. "I loved who he was. He was so real. And so basic. And completely at ease with himself. And I will say he was definitely my type, physically."

The only person who has a bad word to say about Hawn is ex-husband Bill Hudson, who labelled her as greedy and selfish in his recent autobiography. "I just feel a little sad," she said in response.

Hawn has always been open and outspoken about her life and religious beliefs and was one of the earliest Hollywood proponents of Buddhism.

She has been rebirthed, talked herself out in years of therapy and doesn't think twice about making references to things such as having "a subjective belief system".

She and Russell have famously never married. She said in a recent interview: "I like being not married because I choose to live with someone every day. I won't have any institution telling me what to do. Kurt and I wake up every morning happy."

Happy, happy, happy. If Hawn is disliked for anything, it's this. And her Jewish mom pride in the success of her actress daughter, Kate Hudson, (Almost Famous, Bride Wars) seems to irritate some. As does her (relative) honesty about Botox and plastic surgery.

What makes her so open and content? It must be all the meditation.

"They [Hollywood] wanted me to be happy and jovial and up, and I thought, why not? If this is what was gifted, what is the point of working against it? That was my destiny and my life at this time on the planet at this time in history."

Amen to that.

- Observer

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