When I told my wife I was probably going to write about Kurt Russell turning 70, she went “Oh!” “What does THAT mean?” “Kurt Russell was my first crush.”
Not that I’m jealous, mind you.
I was utterly fascinated by Kurt Russell as a kid. He wasn’t much older than I was. I know I watched The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963), a western, though I don’t specifically remember the storyline. “Twelve-year-old Jamie McPheeters, along with his ne’er-do-well father and a ragtag group of pioneers, travel westward from Paducah, Kentucky to the California gold fields in 1849.” Nope, still don’t recall it.
And there were a series of movies, some with Disney, which I almost certainly watched.
The New Land (1974) featured “the trials of a settler family of Swedish immigrants to America.” Watched that, too. If you don’t remember it, it’s probably because lasted only six episodes.
He didn’t become one of those child stars who ended up troubled. Instead, he developed into a successful adult actor, primarily in movies. And most of them I never viewed! In fact, looking at his IMDB roster of films, there are only three I’m positive I saw: Silwood (1983), Swing Shift (1984), and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Oh, I did see the Elvis TV movie in 1979.
There’s a film I just read about that I want to see. The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014) is a “documentary film about the Portland [OR] Mavericks, a defunct minor league baseball team… They played five seasons in the Class A-Short Season Northwest League, from 1973 through 1977. Owned by actor Bing Russell [Kurt’s dad], the Mavericks were an independent team, without the affiliation of a parent team in the major leagues.”
The things I discover. “Kurt Russell was a switch-hitting second baseman for the California Angels minor league affiliates, the Bend Rainbows (1971) and Walla Walla Islanders (1972) in the short-season Class A-Short Season Northwest League, then moved up to Class AA in 1973 with the El Paso Sun Kings of the Texas League.
“While in the field turning the pivot of a double play early in the season, the incoming runner at second base collided with him and tore the rotator cuff in Russell’s right (throwing) shoulder.
“He did not return to El Paso but was a designated hitter for the… Mavericks… late in their short season… He had been doing promotional work for them in the interim. The injury forced his retirement from baseball in 1973 and led to his return to acting.”
Russell appeared in five films with performer Goldie Hawn, possibly still best known for Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The first was way back in 1968, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. Goldie made her big-screen debut in a bit part. She was 21, but he was only 16.
During the making of Swing Shift (1984), they became romantic partners. They were also in Overboard (1987), and the two Christmas Chronicles films (2018, 2020).
They’ve been together since 1983. Her kids (Kate and Oliver Hudson) are his kids. His kid Boston Russell is her kid. They have a son together, Wyatt. And they are happily unmarried.
Goldie said, and Kurt would agree: “We have done just perfectly without marrying. I already feel devoted and isn’t that what marriage is supposed to do? So as long as my emotional state is in a state of devotion, honesty, caring, and loving, then we’re fine.
“We have raised our children brilliantly; they are beautiful people. We did a great job there and we didn’t have to get married to do that. I like waking up every day and seeing that he is there and knowing that I have a choice. There is really no reason to marry.”
Kurt Russell turns 70 on St. Patrick’s Day.