To tie in with the two part Goldie Hawn articles, I thought we’d take a look at Goldie’s other half, Kurt Russell this week.
Kurt was born on March 17, 1951 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father, Bing Russell was an actor that, while never made it really big, he definitely worked a lot on the big and small screen in the 1950’s through the 1970’s. His mother was a dancer in the 1940’s and 50’s.
Russell’s father was also a professional baseball player at one point and this led to him getting Kurt involved in baseball at an early age. Kurt played little league baseball throughout his grade school years and also on his high school baseball team.
On the acting front, Kurt actually made his big screen debut, with a small part in Elvis Presley’s film “It Happened at the World’s Fair” (1963) when he was just 12 years old. From that exposure, Kurt found himself working on several small roles on TV as well.
TV execs liked Kurt and he was given the lead role in the ABC TV western series “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters” (1963–64). Kurt would also be seen on TV shows such as “The Fugitive”, “The Virginian”, and “Gunsmoke” and appeared in five episodes of “Daniel Boone”, all in 1964.
At the age of 13, one of Kurt’s most famous TV roles was when he played the Jungle Boy on an episode of the hit series “Gilligan’s Island” in 1965. Westerns were a popular TV theme in the 60’s and Kurt made more than his fair share of appearances in them as well, including guest-starring on ABC’s “The Legend of Jesse James” and “Laredo”.
Walt Disney himself was a fan of the young actor as well and Kurt ended up working in several episodes of the Sunday night TV show “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”. A popular (and true) trivia question that comes up often, is that in 1966 Walt Disney wrote “Kurt Russell” on a piece of paper as his final words before his passing.
It was during filming one of the many TV shows, that Kurt would meet Goldie Hawn for the first time, although the two would not wind up together as a couple, until almost 20 years later. Another big theme for TV shows in the 1960’s was space and Kurt also made his mark there, in a March 1966 episode CBS’s hit show, “Lost in Space”.
In 1966, (with Walt’s previous stamp of approval) Kurt was signed to a ten-year contract with The Walt Disney Company, where he became the Disney’s top star of the 1970s. But this did not stop Kurt from pursuing another passion…baseball. In the early 1970s, Kurt was a switch-hitting second baseman for one of the California Angels minor league teams. But a severe shoulder injury led to his early retirement from baseball in 1973 and led to his return to acting.
For most of the rest of the 1970’s and into the 80’s Kurt struggled with “B” movie status and continued small parts on TV. 1981 did deliver one of Kurt’s most well-known roles as the lead actor, playing Snake Plissken in “Escape from New York”. The film did very well at the box office, considering no other big names were in the film. In 1983, Kurt gained even more notoriety for his role in “Silkwood” with Meryl Streep and Cher. The role even earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In the 90’s Kurt played the lead role in “Backdraft” (1991), Wyatt Earp in “Tombstone” (1993). His role of U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in the 2004 film “Miracle”, was also very well received. Beyond that, apart from the occasional role, Kurt has been content being a hands on family man and supporting his partner of over 24 years now…Goldie Hawn.
With the bulk of Kurt’s success coming at an early age, it’s nice to see an actor in Hollywood, who is not threatened by his partner’s star shining brighter than his own and just being happy for the family as a whole.