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WANT TO BE THE NEW BETTE DAVIS? THANKS, BUT NO THANKS, SAID GOLDIE


When I interviewed Goldie Hawn for The New York Times in 1977, she was a beaming new mom, a dedicated clown who wanted no part of tragedy. What she wanted most of all was to continue playing zanies like the maid-on-strike she once played on TV's "Laugh-In." --Guy Flatley


“I am an innocent victim of circumstance and someone is trying to kill me. But I don’t know who. Is it the albino? Or the dwarf? Or the scarfaced man? Or the sex pervert?”

Goldie Hawn, the “Laugh-In” cut-up who blossomed into a movie queen, giggled with delight at the dilemma she’ll face in “Foul Play,” a flaky thriller set for filming in October under the direction of Colin Higgins, who also wrote the screenplay. It is Goldie’s first production since the birth of Oliver, a wonder boy if ever there was one.

“Being a mother is the greatest experience of my life--well, the second greatest. The first was when I was 18 and I did ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in an amphitheater, in the rain, and nobody moved. I’m a realistic person, so you know I’m not exaggerating when I tell you my son is a genius. He’ll be a year old on the seventh of September, and he’s already talking.”

What’s he saying?

“Well, I’m not going to go through his whole vocabulary, but--believe me--he speaks. I tell you, the child is like a light bulb; when he smiles, the entire room lights up. And he got the whole damned thing from his mother.”

Her husband, Bill Hudson--of the pop-singing Hudson Brothers--must have contributed a bit. “Oh, sure he did. Bill is a fabulous father. Gets up in the night, changes diapers, the works. I couldn’t design a better father.”

Goldie’s maternal joy has not obliterated her desire to divert the masses from their humdrum concerns, a commendable impulse that was tragically short-circuited in last year’s “The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox,” a desperately bawdy western in which she played a foul-mouthed prostitute to George Segal’s cutesy cardsharp. “I adore everyone connected with that movie, and I think George and I make a great combination. Yet--how can I say this? Everything was overextended, all the scenes went on too long. One thing I learned was that I should never curse in a film; it just doesn’t match my image. It would be a different matter if it were ‘Taxi Driver,’ but it wasn’t. And it wasn’t Mel Brooks, either.”

Nor was it “Shampoo,” the racy sociocomedy in which she, Julie Christie, Lee Grant and Carrie Fisher became entangled with hotblooded hairdresser Warren Beatty. “That picture was brilliantly done, and I was proud to be a part of it. But, ironically, I was the only serious one in the whole film. I was completely straight, and everyone else was insane. I’m glad that I’m coming back in a comedy like ‘Foul Play,' which is right off the wall.”

The glints of humor in “Sugarland Express,” a box-office lemon, were dark at best; yet many critics felt that Goldie was superb as the coarse, impoverished wife of a dimwitted convict. While it pleased her to be called a young Bette Davis, she is inclined to stick close to her comedic roots in the future. In fact, she’ll be seen in a “Laugh-In” television special next March, and she’ll also be in “The Last Fling,” a lark about a couple of female dropouts, to be directed by Lee Grant.

Clearly, there will be no time for tears. “I feel the essence of what God gave me will bleed through anything I do, and what He gave me is a feeling for comedy. Why should I try to extend myself when it’s not necessarily what the public wants me to do? This is a business, after all, and our job is to please the people, to get them to come and buy tickets. It’s funny, but your peers all seem to want you to do something other than what you do best. ‘Come on, Goldie, it’s time to show them what a serious actress you are.’ Well, that’s fine, but not in 1977. This is an enormous year for up pictures.

"I hate to say it, but I think we’re hitting a bland era, like the 50s. I’m going to put on my bobby sox and head for the drive-in.”