Ask people to describe Goldie Hawn and the words you're most likely to hear are "dizzy blonde". And while the actress is held in greater public affection than almost any other star, adjectives like "professional" and "intellectual" are rarely ascribed to her. But if the testimonies of her collaborators are anything to go by, these are exactly the qualities she embodies most.
"It's interesting," mused Woody Allen after working with Goldie on Everyone Says I Love You. "The ones who play the silly, dizzy blondes, like Goldie or Judy Holliday, are really bright. That's what makes them so good at it. That's how they are able to create that character, and that's why people respond to them so much."
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Goldie has gained such respect in the industry considering her career as a performer began in infancy. Born in Washington DC on November 21, 1945, Goldie first took to the stage as a diminutive ballet dancer at the tender age of three.
Her mother ran the dance school where she learned her first steps, while her father, a professional violinist, provided the music. Indeed it was as a child that she first found her feet as a performer, in more ways than one. The actress fondly recalls a definitive experience when she was asked to dance at a friend's Bar Mitzvah. As the choreography began she stumbled and fell, not once but twice. After making a brave third attempt, however, the then 12-year-old went on to give a flawless performance. "I realised then that I was probably going to make it," she says.
She was right. A little over a decade later Goldie made her professional debut, dancing the can-can at the World Fair in New York in 1964. And within a few years she had won a part in the legendary comedy sketch show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, where her participation involved a regular drenching.
Week after week, fans tuned in to see her legendary body-painted go-go dancing. Bikini-clad bopping isn't exactly the most challenging role for an actor, but it established the young Goldie as America's favourite dizzy blonde.
And that foundation was enough to set her on course for stardom. In the years that followed she made a series of well-received comedies going on to win an Oscar for 1969's Cactus Flower and married twice.
Her first nuptials were to dancer Gus Trikonis and the second to musician Bill Hudson, with whom she had children Oliver and Kate Hudson.
Having explored the benefits and pitfalls of marriage, Goldie now feels it's not necessarily the best foundation for a healthy family life. "Marriage is a form of ownership," she says. "I don't like fusion. I think it's dangerous. I think you lose your personal power." This could explain why she has chosen not to wed long-time partner Kurt Russell, the father of her third child Wyatt.
The couple live together at their home in Santa Monica, along with their four children. They also own a 72-acre ranch in Aspen and a spectacular apartment overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan. Being together seems more important than which home they are sharing, however. Indeed daughter Kate, now a major star in her own right, still stays with them whenever possible. And though Bill Hudson is her biological father, Kate says it is Kurt whom she calls "pa". Such domestic happiness has been a long time coming for Goldie, and she has no hesitation in admitting that it is the most important part of her life.
The clan is also bound together by the successful production company Cosmic Entertainment which they run. And despite enjoying the kind of success generally associated with driven, businesslike figures, Goldie still enjoys the flighty side to her personality. "A few years ago, a compilation show of Laugh-In sketches was put together for the show's 25th anniversary. I remember watching it in my house with tears rolling down my face," she admits.
"After 25 years you have to look at yourself and ask 'Well, who are you now?'. I can honestly say that the reason I was crying is that I'm still that person. I've grown up. I've gone through the trials and tribulations of life. I've lost my parents since then. I've had two failed marriages. And on the back burner I've had career ups and downs. Yet the essence of that person I was has remained."