Review: GOLDIE HAWN at Bank Of America Performing Arts Center

An Intimate Theatrical Experience

By: Sep. 24, 2023
Review: GOLDIE HAWN at Bank Of America Performing Arts Center

The Distinguished Speaker Series kicked off its 28th season with a rare appearance by actress, producer, author, and children's health advocate Goldie Hawn. Over the years we have seen an extraordinary breadth of personalities, politicians, authors, scientists, and heads of state, but rarely have any been as engaging as Goldie (we can't call her by her surname), who spoke to a rapt, attentive audience in an intimate conversation at the Kavli Theater in Thousand Oaks on September 19. At 77, Goldie is in the twilight of her career as an actress, choosing to devote much of her current efforts to support her eponymous foundation, whose most recent development is called MindUP, an evidence-based program and teaching model that provides tools to help children self-regulate and understand their own emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, sharpen concentration, increase empathy, and improve academic performance.

But Hawn devoted much of her time on stage to reflect on her long, varied career as a performer. Radio personality Doug McIntyre posed questions, but he didn't need to speak much (and chose not to) as Hawn spun yarns about her formative years in Washington, D.C. before moving to New York to become a dancer.

Named for a beloved aunt, Goldie started taking dance lessons at the age of three, growing up in an artistic household. Her father, a self-taught musician, played violin and then saxophone in the nation's capital where he met Goldie's mother ("she was the life of the party, always full of joy," as Goldie recalled). She related how her father was sitting next to Eleanor Roosevelt on a day in April 1945 when the First Lady received the telegram informing her of her husband's death of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia.

At the age of 19, Goldie left home and arrived in New York, determined to become a dancer. She ended up staying in a one-room, roach-infested flat in Sherman Square, a haven for drug addicts that became known as Needle Park. ("I had to have seven locks on my door"). A near fatal auto accident made her realize that she had a purpose in life and it was her job to figure out what that purpose was.

She was introduced to show business' infamous "casting couch" at the behest of cartoonist and Li'l Abner creator Al Capp, who sexually harassed her, prompting her to tell him off and stalk out of the audition. Shortly afterward, she landed a job dancing at the Texas Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

In 1967, she moved to Los Angeles and auditioned for producer George Schlatter, who was developing a swinging '60s comedy-variety program to be hosted by the standup comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In became a touchstone of the psychedelic era, with its rapid fire blackout sketches, topical humor, and colorful personalities. Goldie's initial role was to introduce a regular segment on current affairs and news, hosted by Rowan. But she had difficulty reading the cue cards and ended up burying herself in a torrent of giggles. When she requested a retake, Schlatter just said, "Goldie, that was just fine!". "Laughing was a change maker," Goldie recalled, wistfully. "My mom didn't think I was funny, but that character I created had a lot of me in her. I always laugh at myself. We changed things by laughing at them. It was an extraordinarily special time in our history." Goldie became one of the show's most memorable performers; with her short-cropped blonde hair, infectious giggle, and Twiggy-thin physique, she endeared herself to millions of television watchers.

One of her most memorable recollections of her two seasons on Laugh-In happened when none other Elvis Presley came into the rehearsal hall. "It was just around the time he made his comeback, and at that time he was simply the most handsome, extraordinarily sexy man I ever met." When Presley was introduced to her, he tousled her hair and said, "You look like a chicken that has just been hatched!" At relating the story, she lapsed into that familiar Goldie grin and giggle, and she was in her 20s again.

Goldie became the breakout hit of Laugh-In, which catapulted her into an Academy-Award-winning performance as Toni Simmons in the 1969 film comedy Cactus Flower, co-starring Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman. She recalled that the best part of receiving the Oscar was having it announced by Fred Astaire (she was unable to attend the ceremony), although she never thought she deserved the award.

Stories about her other films, including There's a Girl In My Soup (with Peter Sellers), Sugarland Express ("one of my favorites"), and Private Benjamin were also fondly recalled. Through all of this, moderator Doug McIntyre kept appropriately silent, except to skillfully steer her to the next chronological event, and then sitting back, allowing Goldie to tell stories uninterrupted. It was almost magical to hear her speak so clearly and emotionally, without losing her perspective, but occasionally letting loose that famous giggle that we all loved so well.

When asked the inevitable question about why she never married her longtime partner, fellow actor Kurt Russell (who grew up in Thousand Oaks), she sighed and just said, "I think we're just too happy."

When the topic turned to MindUP, her demeanor turned serious as her voice softened and reduced in volume. She spoke softly and carefully as she explained her work on behalf of the Goldie Hawn Foundation, which involves educating children to "self-regulate." "You should know your brain," she said. "Breathing relaxes the brain. Stress is a killer, and we are all way too stressed out these days." Goldie advocates awareness, mindful listening, and focus. Speaking passionately, she explained her belief that performing acts of kindness actually creates a surge in dopamine, the "feel good" hormone.

Goldie Hawn has been making us feel good for more than a half century. Once the eager student, she is now teaching children how to live more productive lives through mental fitness, something that is desperately needed in today's turbulent, confrontational society. What could be more important than that?


BOB BARTHS ONE NIGHT STAND To Feature Broadway Star Christopher Sieber And Musical Guest M Photo
BOB BARTH'S ONE NIGHT STAND To Feature Broadway Star Christopher Sieber And Musical Guest MUNYA

Bob Barth's One Night Stand on WFMU's SHEENA'S JUNGLE ROOM will feature Broadway star Christopher Sieber and musical guest MUNYA on November 30th.

ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE - ON AIR Will Play Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center in December Photo
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - ON AIR Will Play Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center in December

Kick off your holiday season with a twist on a classic as the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center presents 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - ON AIR' from December 1 - December 23, 2023. Experience a hilariously fun live radio broadcast of the holiday classic with a merry band of misfits.

SESAME STREET LIVE! SAY HELLO Comes to Thousand Oaks Next Summer Photo
SESAME STREET LIVE! SAY HELLO Comes to Thousand Oaks Next Summer

Sesame Street Live! Say Hello comes to the Fred Kavli Theatre for two shows, Sunday, June 9, 2024, at 1:00 pm & 6:00 pm. Tickets go on sale Friday, November 17 at 10am.

Madison Cunningham Nominated For Best American Roots Performance at The 66th Annual GRAMMY Photo
Madison Cunningham Nominated For 'Best American Roots Performance' at The 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards

Madison Cunningham was nominated for 'Best American Roots Performance' at the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards.


The World Goes ‘Round  in Thousand Oaks The World Goes ‘Round
The Karyn Jackson Theatre (12/06-12/23)
To Kill a Mockingbird in Thousand Oaks To Kill a Mockingbird
Bank of America Performing Arts Center [Fred Kavli Theatre] (6/25-6/30)
A Faery Hunt Enchantment in Thousand Oaks A Faery Hunt Enchantment
A Faery Hunt Enchantment (1/20-1/20)
The Cher Show (Non-Equity) in Thousand Oaks The Cher Show (Non-Equity)
Bank of America Performing Arts Center [Fred Kavli Theatre] (12/09-12/10)
The World Goes ‘Round  in Thousand Oaks The World Goes ‘Round
The Karyn Jackson Theatre (12/06-12/23)
A Faery Hunt Enchanted in Thousand Oaks A Faery Hunt Enchanted
Corriganville Park (2/17-2/17)

Recommended For You