Review: ‘Goldie’

This book is pure Goldie: a treat for those who savor marzipan, but diabetics beware. Part memoir, part observation, mixed with advice and geography lessons, this autobiography (written with British journalist Wendy Holden) is disjointed, sometimes confusing and frequently repetitious, yet compelling and easy to read. However, its lack of an index is frustrating.

This book is pure Goldie: a treat for those who savor marzipan, but diabetics beware.

Part memoir, part observation, mixed with advice and geography lessons, this autobiography (written with British journalist Wendy Holden) is disjointed, sometimes confusing and frequently repetitious, yet compelling and easy to read. However, its lack of an index is frustrating.

“Goldie” is not so much written as spoken, and, given the conversational tone, one overlooks the fractured grammar, if not the ubiquitous use of “love” and “umbilical cord.” Yet the language is beautiful in some parts, usually when Hawn is describing places: Africa, Moscow, Ibiza, India, the Middle East, Peru. And she expresses some of her philosophical thoughts exquisitely.

Better editing would have addressed the inconsistencies (“scotch” on one page, “bourbon” on the next, referring to the same drink; a son 6 years old on one page, 7 on the next, referring to the same incident) and connected the disjointed sections.

(For instance, time and again we are told Goldie is falling in love, without having been informed her previous partner was out of the picture. While there are “postcards” meant as chapter introductions and bridges, often the reader is adrift in a sea of hitherto unreferenced events. )

The first third of the book will be of particular interest to gypsies, wannabe gypsies, those with gypsy in their souls and parents who are terrified their daughters will leave home to get into show business. Hawn claims she never wanted to be an actress, although she “loves” Shakespeare and played Juliet in stock. Rather, this go-go girl’s heart was in dancing, whether prima ballerina or Broadway chorus kid. In her young mind, she was the dancer with whom nobody wanted to dance. Fast-forward: She always felt most comfortable and secure as a chorus dancer.

Ingrid Berman and Greer Garson, both deeply admired, are among those who crossed paths with Hawn and helped show her even the rich and famous can’t have it all. She quotes her philosopher-musician father saying, “Show business is fake business, so don’t let it fool you.”

This is no “tell-all” tome; it’s marked by gentility. While Hawn is doing the dance of the seven veils, she’s not doffing them all. She rarely uses names unless she has something positive to say, one major exception being Al Capp, in a particularly ugly episode.

There are affectionate portraits of those who helped Hawn, including George Schlatter and Stan Kamen.

What comes though most strongly is kindness, generosity, her fondness for fellow performers and all those with whom she worked and her devotion to family. One loves the giggly charmer who lit up our living rooms in “Laugh-In” and glittered on movie screens thereafter.

Goldie is among that elite group of golden girls who don’t age. Could it be that the forgiving heart, which kept resentment at bay, shielded her face from the ravages of time? The inherent goodness of Goldie glows incandescently.

Goldie

Putnam; 447 Pgs.; $25.95

Production

Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden
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