March 15, 1999 12:00 PM

Some actresses become stars. Some actresses who become stars then produce movies. But very, very few actresses who become stars and produce movies are still at the top of both games after 33 years in Hollywood. “The public responds to Goldie,” says her pal Diane Keaton. “She has a lovability that’s rare, rare, rare, rare, rare. There’s only a handful of people who are adored, and Goldie is one of them.”

What’s the draw? Goldie Hawn “is multifaceted. She is strong. And she is a big babe,” says Keaton.

“She is an amazing positive energy force that just emits sunshine and joy wherever she goes,” says comedian Martin Short, her friend and neighbor in Pacific Palisades.

“She’s just like any other girl, only more so,” says her companion of 16 years, actor Kurt Russell. Hawn, 53, says that over the years she herself has pondered the sense of identification that audiences seem to feel, and that the best explanation she can come up with is a simple one: “I live through my heart. Maybe that’s what it is.”

Her infectious giggle got her noticed on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in 1968; her smarts kept her going. After winning an Oscar (for 1969’s Cactus Flower) early on, she helped pave the way for a new crop of female film producers when in 1980 at age 34 she produced Private Benjamin so that she could call her own shots. “I’m a very practical person,” she says. “And as I got older I stayed realistic.”

Though she has made 26 films, her heart, she says, belongs at home with Russell, 47, and their kids (her son Oliver, 22, and daughter Kate, 19, with former husband musician Bill Hudson; Russell’s son Boston, 19, with ex-wife Season Hubley; and their son Wyatt, 12). “Motherhood,” she says, “is everything to me.” Adds Russell: “Work has never matched up to life around the house.”

A born nester, Hawn recalls “playing by myself” as the younger of two daughters of a musician and a dance school owner in Takoma Park, Md. “I would entertain myself,” she says. “It was a wonderful thing.” But she was in no way a loner: “I was overly affectionate. I kissed everybody in the room whether I knew them or not.” Back then, Hawn had a stock response for what she wanted to be when she grew up: “Happy.”

A devout Buddhist, she says she thrives on growing and learning. “I love to wake up and meet the day,” she says. “I think that life is not to be wasted or thrown away.” When she feels jaded, she adds, “I make my eyes like a child’s. I look at everything as if for the first time.” If that’s what keeps her young mentally, she maintains her dancer’s body through yoga and weight lifting, though she doesn’t hold herself to a regimen. “If you nail yourself into ‘I have to be doing this an hour and a half a day,’ what it does is stop you from doing anything,” she says. “You just do what you can.”

With their children growing up (Oliver and Kate are both actors; Boston is a college student), Hawn and Russell are looking forward to more time for each other—though marriage is not on the horizon. “There’s something about marriage I don’t like,” says the twice-divorced Hawn. “The idea that Kurt gets to be my boyfriend is a sexy choice and incredibly fascinating.”

Hawn doesn’t think she’ll perform much longer, but she says, “I still want to pass something on.” It may involve directing, definitely young people. “I like people who are on the edge of discovery,” she says. “So that’s how I see myself. I’ll have a lot of wrinkles on my face, but I feel like my heart will be fat and full.”

Jill Smolowe

Champ Clark in Los Angeles

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