Goldie Hawn is the stuff of Hollywood legend. She won an Oscar in 1969 and has been a business favourite for over five decades — long enough to have experienced both the horrors and the delights of life in the limelight. The veteran actress recently opened up to People about a horror early in her career: her experience with the notorious "casting couch." The phrase refers to unsavoury power dynamics that see the exchange of sexual favours for landing a role. For Hawn this is more than just a fable. Early in Hawn's career, Lil Abner cartoonist Al Capp masqueraded as a casting director in an effort to gain sexual favours.
During an audition of sorts, which Hawn referred to as a "meet," Capp undressed and requested that Hawn give him "a kiss."
"[Capp] took off his business clothes and came in in, like, a dressing gown. I got the picture, and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble. Where’s the door?’" Hawn recounted. Capp did, in fact, run an audition. The then-19-year-old read a scene and received some constructive criticism. Shortly after, though, Capp got predatory.
In Hawn's words: "Then he wanted me to show my legs, and I said, ‘You know, Mr. Capp, I don’t know. I don’t think so,’ and then I sat down and he wanted me to give him a kiss, and I went, ‘I don’t do this. I’m sorry.'" Capp then told her she'd "never make anything" and asked her to leave. Remember: Hawn was 19. At the time, she was dancing at the 1964 World Fair, and didn't have money to get home.
Hawn, broke and in tears, asked Capp for cab money home. He obliged, and Hawn went on to become a Hollywood monument. This is a tale that Hawn has told in public before — she gave it to Oprah in 2012 — just not in as much detail. It's horrifying, and it'd be awful nice to think that this type of sexual harassment no longer occurs.
The sad truth is that it does — X-Men producer Bryan Singer faced accusations of such behaviour in 2014. Westworld's Thandie Newton recalled a similar story to Hawn's just a year ago. And there are plenty more where these stories come from: Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all confessed to enduring such situations.
Hawn's latest movie Snatched arrives in cinemas this Friday. Capp died in 1979. May he rest in peace.