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Releasing a book dedicated to herself and the art of dance, 54-year old Marjorie Goodson proves that age is just a number.
You are the daughter of a popular gameshow producer. How did growing up in a household where your father was famous shape your life?
As a young girl, it was fun to be the daughter of a famous gameshow producer. “Goodson” was a household name back then when my father’s shows inundated daytime television. There was a familiarity people showed when they found out that I was his daughter, as if they had rediscovered an old friend and wanted to share their stories of not only watching his shows, but for some having actually been on them. I remember my feelings of pride and love for my father as I realized the impact his work had on others. To me, he was bigger than life.
But while his fame certainly affected my life, it was his character as a father and a man that shaped it. He was a class act. Elegant. Funny. Loving. Wise. He was a fair and honest man with an unrelenting work ethic. He was smart, yet humble at every turn, crediting his success only to hard work and self-discipline.
He would tell me stories about his childhood and the struggles of growing up poor. He wanted me to understand that nothing came for free and that there was “a price tag on everything” in life. He didn’t believe in short cuts and quick fixes. He was a marvelous listener and was always there with his insightful words shaping me, caring for me, making me laugh and loving me.
In my home in California, I have a long wall upstairs which I call “The Wall of Game.” It is dedicated to him and his life’s work. Wonderful old photographs which I restored that live on my walls. I wanted my daughter Hannah to know all about her grandfather and to feel a connection as I had and still do.
He left his imprint on my life and today I live and breathe his words.
Tell us about your childhood?
I was born in New York City. A child of divorce, I lived briefly with my mother in Birmingham, Alabama until the age of five and then moved to NYC to live with my father, visiting my mother only for holidays and partial summers.
As an only child, I did enjoy my time spent in the South with all my many relatives. However, my relationship with my mother was always a difficult one and remained so throughout her life.
As a young girl, I was a terrible student. I never listened, forgot my homework and was always in trouble for being the class clown. All I ever wanted to do was dance and it was the only “subject” that I excelled in at school. In dance I was a leader. I was confident and helpful to the other students when they didn’t understand the steps. I always yearned to be better.
My passion for dance began at an early age (5) and by eight my father had enrolled me in the School of American Ballet. I would remain there for the next five years, quitting briefly at the age of 13.
At 15, I resumed ballet at the Hartford Ballet School, where I was attended The Ethel Walker Boarding School in Simsbury, CT. I attended the Joffrey Summer program at age 16 and, by 17, I was introduced to jazz dance, while doing a senior semester in NY. The teacher’s name was Luigi. I’ll never forget this man and what I learned from him. Ballet had certainly been my first love, but “jazz” would be a game changer for me.
I had always loved this style of dance having seen it many times on Broadway; my father an avid theater goer and would take me to see the shows as a young girl. I was obsessed with the style they called “Fosse” after Mr. Bob Fosse, the iconic dancer and choreographer. I remember seeing “A Chorus Line” and being hooked. I also remember the pounding percussive beat of the music, the full force of the dancers; their legs kicking high in the air as they tipped their golden hats and sang the now famous, “One” written by Marvin Hamlisch. Every day after school I would run to my room, throw on the record from “A Chorus Line” and sing my heart out. I loved all types of musicals and imagined myself on Broadway!
After graduating Walker’s in the summer of 1980, I moved back to NYC and attended an extension program at NYU and continued my dance training.
I decided to move back to Birmingham, Alabama in 1981 having foolishly fallen for a guy the Christmas before. Naturally nothing ever came of it, but my pride prevented me from returning to NYC, so I enrolled in Birmingham Southern College with my sights on being a dance major.
Still a poor student, I decided to pack my bags and head west to California where I had spent much of my childhood, living at The Beverly Hills Hotel with my father as his work required him to be bicoastal. I guess you could say I was the West Coast version of “Eloise At The Plaza.”
California would become my permanent home. Los Angeles was my artistic haven. I love it here. It’s edgy. It’s colorful. It’s artistic! It’s Me!!!!
Your daughter Hannah was born in 1993. How did that impact your life?
Becoming a mother was the most terrifying and most wonderful thing that I had ever done in my entire life! My daughter’s birth would change me forever. I was determined to be a strong force in Hannah’s life and I wanted nothing more than to be a loving and caring mother, perhaps because of my own failed relationship with my mother. I wanted to live by example, the way my father had done for me.
Unfortunately, he would pass while I was pregnant with Hannah.
His death and my daughter’s birth were significant. It was the cycle of life happening right in front of me. The torch had been passed and now it was my turn to protect, to guide and to love unconditionally, the way my father had always done for me.
What lessons has your parenting style instilled in Hannah?
Leading by example was always a priority. Words of love and concern are only as strong as the actions that follow as a parent. As an only child, Hannah and I were very close and still are. She’s my best friend and my wingman. Naturally, there are the typical mother-daughter squabbles, but overall we confide in and adore one another.
In raising Hannah, I wanted to be a good role model and was big on apologizing when I made a mistake. I wanted her to know the importance of taking ownership of one’s faults. Mistakes happen. Own it and then move forward with perhaps new understanding. Arguments happen, but the growth, the insight and the change happens in the resolution. Closure is important. I remember how much I respected my father when he could admit his mistakes. I always thought it took courage and wisdom to just be ‘human’ and not live on a false pedestal of perfection.
Hannah is 24 now and I cherish our real and unique relationship. She is wise, beautiful, ambitious, smart and protective. In turn, she gives me advice and I take it gladly. She has become my role model and teacher in many ways. Together we are raising each other. Each of us running a parallel creative course in our lives; she the singer and songwriter and I the artist and dancer.
It’s ironic that my decision to pursue my passion fully and completely at this later stage in my life has been the best “parenting” decision I could have possibly made. In short, we inspire each other.
It is well documented that you had a serious bout of “empty nest syndrome” when Hannah left for college. How did you turn a possible bad experience into a good one?
To set the record straight, I averted “Empty Nest Syndrome” all together when I made the decision to throw myself back into the world of dance. Naturally, I missed my daughter very much and saw her leaving for college as a closing of one chapter and an opening of another. For me, pursuing my passion would be my new chapter and my new beginning. Dancing, again, gave me the strength and courage to create my photography book MG and to push the limits of my creativity. I’m working on my second book MG2. Am I scared? You’re damn right I am. That’s how it works. The difference now is that I let my fear and self-doubt drive me rather than stop me.
You have the body of a young girl with beautiful muscle definition. Talk us through the dedication it takes to look this way.
First, thank you for that wonderful compliment.
But more to the point. The answer you’re looking for is Work! Work! Work!
I train. I dance. I do Pilates and I do a strength and conditioning method called Gyrotonic, which is wonderful for dancers. Although I sustained a knee injury from several surgeries, I know the importance of movement. As the old adage goes… “The less you move, the less you move.”
I also try and eat healthy. For me, good food is like great fertilizer for your body. I feel energized when I eat well. In turn, I feel young, strong and happy. The quality of my life is better and I get to wear short skirts, which I love.
I don’t adhere to outdated notions about age! It’s crap. Your body is resilient. It can change. You can change but only if you want it to. It has to matter and you have to work at it. There are simply no short cuts and quite frankly, I like the challenge. I like the push. The natural high that comes with going after your goals and achieving them. To “inspire and be inspired’ is my drug of choice.
There’s no point in having a body that defies gravity but a face that doesn’t match. How do you take care of yourself to look as good as you do?
Again let me say a big thank you!
As a child, I had terrible acne and had scars as a young adult. I’ve worked tirelessly on the condition of my skin for years, as it was always a point of shame for me growing up.
I occasional have laser treatments (Fraxel, Clear and Brilliant) to help with resurfacing the texture of my skin and because I’m always dancing and training, I try and get regular facials to keep my skin healthy.
Would you say age is just a number and why?
I’ve met people in their 20s who look 40 and people in their 40’s who look 20 because they take care of their bodies and their minds. It’s the whole package. We can’t stop the clock biologically. Each year we do get older, but it is how we get older that we can change.
I’m 55 and I can tell you with absolute certainty that I’m in the best shape physically and mentally of my entire life. Your body is a byproduct of how we treat it, or should I say abuse it, in many cases. We should be seen for the people we are; the way we conduct ourselves and how we treat each other not be caught up in a number. Who cares! I’m 55 and getting younger. Watch me.
What can be learnt from doing something for yourself – This is my time – not coming across as selfish but relishing in the here and now. Creating something you are proud of.
Funny but the answer is in your question. Relishing the here and now -creating something that you are proud of.
When you acknowledge yourself and your value, ironically the opposite happens and you become less selfish because suddenly, as creator, you feel you have worth. In my opinion, your self-esteem goes up and you begin to radiate an energy, a certain power. When you fill up your emotional and creative tank there is more of you to give back. You want to give back. For me, I want to share my passion. I want to inspire others as I’ve been inspired in my life. Taking care of your soul is the least selfish thing you can do as I see it, live it and feel it.
Tell us more about your book
Next to childbirth, Creating MG was the scariest and most empowering thing I could have ever done as an artist.
In MG, I celebrate what I call “The Body Physical.” I use my body like a physical canvas to create unique concepts to tell a story. That story is whatever you want it to be and it will be different for everyone.
With 153 images taken by the beautiful and creative Andreea Raditoiu, I have become the artist that I had always imagined. Through her lens I could take creative risks and push the boundaries with my body. For me, I’m merely a vessel, shaping and contouring myself to become the very art piece itself.
I’m currently working on MG2 and this will be a much bolder style book, both in color and energy. Electric, fierce and slightly futuristic. Next level.
Personally, I’m always working on myself; investigating, creating, loving my friends and my family and just remembering to simply breathe.