March 06, 1978 12:00 PM

When I first saw him, he was so beautiful, and I was so happy.” But Goldie Hawn’s euphoria didn’t last. Her first child, Oliver Rutledge Hudson, had just been delivered a month late after a two-hour cesarean section. He weighed 11 pounds and “looked like a 3-month-old,” thought Goldie. “Then he started going downhill. He had developed a form of pneumonia. They put him on a respirator. It was too scary. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

After 10 days Goldie was released from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center—without Oliver. When she returned to see her baby, she wore disguises to avoid curious fans. Her husband, Bill, eldest of the three rocking Hudson Brothers, “never left my side for a minute,” recalls Goldie. In the end the infant pulled out of his near-fatal condition. “He had a will to live,” Goldie exults. “He’s a very special little boy.”

Eighteen months later the good news is that Oliver is a robust 28-pound toddler, and that there is no bad news. Oliver’s equally strong-willed mommy is bouncing back from maternity exile “more energized than ever.” After six years away from TV, Goldie, 32, is bursting onto CBS this week in an hour-long variety special with straight men like Shaun Cassidy, John (Three’s Company) Ritter and George Burns. She herself, the dingaling of the decade (this season marks the 10th anniversary of the late, great original Laugh-In), is co-producing, no less. Simultaneously Goldie has wrapped the mystery-comedy Foul Play, her 10th movie, but the first since The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox three years ago. Her co-star, in the most promising pairing in years, is Chevy Chase, making his movie debut.

Glows Goldie, “Everything is copacetic. The baby is happy and healthy, my husband is happy and healthy. And it feels great to be back at work at something that’s fun, up, happy, exciting.” Though she adds, “I had needed that time off to fill up my reservoir.”

That reservoir was always deeper than she was given credit for. “I was afraid to go back to TV and do that giggly person who doesn’t have much sense,” she admits, “but when I turned 30, somehow I came of age.” She’s being too modest. Well before 30, she won an Oscar for Cactus Flower and brought off remarkably challenging portrayals in Sugarland Express and Shampoo. George Schlatter, the creator of Laugh-In and her current TV co-producer, compares her to Carole Lombard or Kay Kendall—and no one else. “She’s an original,” he beams. “A woman-child, lady-broad. She’s sweet, vulnerable, sexy, fun, but it all begins with intelligence.”

In showbiz, the bod counts too, though, and getting back in shape for Goldie meant regaining her 5’6″, 119-pound figure. Pregnant, she’d billowed alarmingly to 170 pounds. “Bill loved me pregnant, and I was happy eating,” she remembers. But when her mom arrived for a visit, Hawn reports, “She put me on Weight-Watchers instantly.”

Goldie’s reborn career is wholly outside her fiercely protected life as “a family person” with Hudson, 28, whom she married in the summer of 1976 in the backyard of her childhood home in Takoma Park, Md. just three months before Oliver was born. After waiting a year for her divorce from director Gus Trikonis to go through, they were married jointly by a rabbi (for Goldie’s mom) and a priest (for Bill’s).

Goldie and Bill’s “love nest” since April is a romantic gingerbread Victorian house perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific in Malibu. “There’s no way I could raise children in Beverly Hills, where values are so incredibly bad,” says Goldie. She’s designed four fieldstone fireplaces and filled the five-bedroom spread with enough antiques to satisfy any transplanted Easterner.

For a year, Goldie says, she was “like some mothers, lucky enough to play hausfrau,” staying home to breastfeed Oliver (whose name was plucked from a baby book for its “musical” quality). Now Goldie splits child care with a live-in housekeeper. Parenthood, she coos, has made Bill “the best daddy anyone can ever have. Oliver just lights up like a light bulb when he sees him. He has blown our minds.” Bill adds, “The love you have for your child makes your own relationship stronger, deeper, more realistic.” Even though Oliver’s baby-struck parents swear to have detected musical aptitude—the tyke hands Bill his guitar and plunks out piano scales—Goldie is firmly determined that her baby “will not be the fourth Hudson Brother.” A Hudson sister remains a theoretical possibility, since Goldie plans “to get pregnant again” and hopes to adopt another child. (“I did want three of my own, but cesarean births are very painful.”)

Professionally, though, Goldie’s convinced that “it’s healthy to keep our careers as separate things. I don’t bring home my work and neither does Bill.” He worries that “when people say, ‘Here they are—Goldie Hawn and her husband, Bill,’ it makes me seem like one of many events in her life. It invalidates what we really have with each other—our love and our relationship.” He helps Goldie rehearse her music and has written songs she hopes to use in a Las Vegas act next year. But the Hudson Brothers are not guest comedians on her TV special. “I look forward to a time when Bill and I will work together,” she explains, “but not right now.”

Otherwise, Goldie insists, “Anything life has to offer, we do together.” When Goldie was shooting Foul Play, Bill and Oliver relocated to the movie’s San Francisco set. “My God!” Goldie gasps. “I’d never leave him behind!” The Hudson Brothers, who are now shooting Repo with Sylvia Miles and Darren McGavin, will go to London this summer for Sir Lew Grade’s Bonkers, a prospective CBS fall series. Goldie will be in Italy making a spaghetti comedy, opposite Giancarlo Giannini, called A Trip with Anita. They’ll take turns tending Oliver during the week and reunite every weekend. The family’s few spats are over work-enforced AWOLs. Reports Hudson: “We have wonderful arguments and get it all out.”

It’s for certain that no one stays mad at Goldie long. Marvels producer Schlatter: “If you looked inside her head, you would find a pretty little bouquet.” Yet Hudson, who met Goldie on a 1975 New York-L.A. flight, notes, “Goldie’s independence is what makes her her own person. She’s more practical than I am. I’m more the dreamer. Nine times out of ten, she’s right.”

Goldie just asks, “What makes me different from an electrician? We’re all gifted, we’re all trained. An electrician on the TV special is lucky to be working in a world of unemployment, and I’m lucky to be working in a world of competition.” (One of the problems of her first marriage was that dancer-turned-director Trikonis was underemployed.)

Hawn and Hudson’s home life isn’t much more glamorous than an electrician’s. Both are teetotalers (she smokes occasionally), and Goldie purrs, “We curl up together, put a fire on, make some tea and watch TV.” They keep up on the competition not in Bel Air screening rooms but in public moviehouses, and friends are mostly non-showbiz types. But Goldie’s two and only are Bill and Oliver. “We are the lucky ones,” she says of her husband. “We found each other.” As for the little man who gives her the joy of motherhood, Goldie sighs, “I feel like I never lived without him. I don’t know how I did.”

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