Goldie: Buddhist, Jew, Jesus Freak

'For the rest of my life, everything I do has to be with good intentions.'

BY: Interview by Deborah Caldwell

Goldie Jean Studlendgehawn was born on November 21, 1945 and raised in the Maryland suburbs. She began her career as one of the cast members on the 1960s comedy show "Laugh-In," won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in "Cactus Flower," and soon became one of the most popular film actresses of the 1970s. By the 1980s, she had transformed herself into a movie producer; through the 1990s and beyond, she starred in such comedies as "The First Wives Club" and, most recently, "The Banger Sisters." Her daughter is actress Kate Hudson.

Last week Goldie spoke with Beliefnet senior editor Deborah Caldwell about her Jewish and Christian upbringing, her adult path as a Buddhist, how she forgives paparazzi for taking ugly photographs of her, and the first time she made love with actor Kurt Russell, her partner of 22 years. Read the complete interview and listen to Goldie talk about:

  • Her Fear of Dying
  • Being Jewish
  • Jesus
  • Israel
  • Detachment
  • Making Love
  • Kurt Russell's Spirituality
  • Her Destiny

  • I want to take you back to your childhood. You've said that your abrupt awareness of the Cold War-the possibility of nuclear annihilation-made you want to connect with God. Could you tell that story?

    I was in sixth grade and we were going to see a film. And we thought it was going to be how they grow corn in Iowa. The lights went out, and this old 16 mm film came on and there was a big clock. And the clock counted down from 9-8-7-6-5-4 and so on and when it hit zero, there was this incredible explosion and the clock broke and shifted back and forth and then this panning of human pain, destruction, injury, fear, screaming, children, mothers losing their children. It was staged--but for a 12-year-old mind, it was a realization that you were not on stable ground, that life was tenuous and because of the Cold War which we were hearing about, it said, this is what will happen if there is an enemy attack. I was a sensitive child, so I responded to it in a way that raised my heart rate, created an unbelievable sense of destabilization. I felt tremendous fear. I wanted to throw up, and I was shaking visibly. Children in this movie were ducking under desks and watching windows being blown out and lights flashing and people were saying, "Do not look to the light" and "Cover your head."

    My reality shifted completely. I realized that life at that moment had changed for me in a very negative way; I asked the teacher if I could go home for lunch so I ran home and said, "Mommy, we're all going to die. We're going to be killed in an enemy attack." She tried to appeal to my level of analysis, and said, "Now here's Russia and here we are and you realize that what's stopping this war and why it would never happen is because these two people do not want to annihilate each other. Because our bombs actually are faster and better than theirs, so if in fact they do press something, and we press something, everybody's going to die and nobody wants to die and these people aren't going to do this."

    Listen   Goldie on her fear of dying

    She made me a cup of tea, and she picked up the phone and called the school and went completely insane. She said, "How dare you show our children these things?" As the years went on, I was consistently frightened by this and there were times I wouldn't go to school when I knew there was going to be an air raid drill because of what the sound did to my psyche. When I realized this fear, this uncertainty, this potential of dying, I guess I needed something greater to hold onto than what we can see, touch, and smell-and that was the spiritual aspect of God, the nature of God and his relationship to humans.

    It was my clear wish to be happy, and I think that wish came from the idea that I was suddenly made unhappy by this event and realized that I wanted to go back to my natural state of happiness. I wanted to find a way to get myself out of it. So I started reading the Bible. My mother loved the Bible.

    The Hebrew Bible or the Christian Bible?

    We had the Old Testament and the New Testament.

    I know your mother was Jewish-was your father also Jewish?

    My father was Presbyterian.

    But you identify as Jewish?

    Listen   Goldie on being Jewish

    Well, when you have a Jewish mother who has a very strong Jewish family, it's very ethnic in its practices. Eating brisket, the food and the family and the interconnectedness for better or worse. The intertwining of the family is a big part of the Jewish way of life. whereas the Presbyterians are whiter. They don't have the same sense of family, although I have a very big and strong family on my dad's side. But it's not quite the same. It's like being Greek or Italian, you know what I mean, having this kind of ethnicity. So clearly my father's belief system was not wrapped around anything other than his own philosophical nature. He wasn't anyone who blindly had faith; he was a searcher, a seeker, and a philosopher.

    "But my mother loved Jesus-she was just a complete Jesus freak."
    Read more on page 2 >>

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  • Continued on page 2: »

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