Jane Fonda

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Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda

Jane Seymour Fonda (born December 21, 1937) is an Academy Award-winning American actress, model, writer, fitness guru, producer, activist and philanthropist.



See also Family members

Jane Fonda was born in New York City, to actor Henry Fonda and socialite Frances Brokaw (ne Seymour). She was named after Lady Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII.

Jane's mother, Frances, was the second of Henry Fonda's five wives, and was formerly married to millionaire George Brokaw, the onetime husband of writer Clare Boothe Luce. After voluntarily seeking help at an asylum, Frances Fonda committed suicide by cutting her throat with a carving knife in October 1950, when Jane was 12 years old. In Fonda's 2005 memoir, the actress wrote that while researching the book, she was granted access to her mother's psychiatric records and discovered that her mother had been sexually molested as a child, a trauma that doubtless contributed to her later emotional and mental instabilty.

Her nickname as a youth—Lady Jane, a moniker she reportedly disliked. She traveled to Russia in 1964 and was impressed by the people, who welcomed her warmly as Henry's daughter. In the mid-1960s she bought a farm outside of Paris, she renovated it and did the garden herself. She visited Warhol's Factory in 1966. About her 1971 Oscar triumph, her father Henry said: "How in hell would you like to have been in this business as long as I and have one of your kids win an Oscar before you do?" Jane was on the cover of Life magazine, March 29, 1968. Early in her career she was extremely critical of her father, but in 1980 she bought the play "On Golden Pond" so that she could get Henry to star in it, hopefully to win the Oscar that had eluded him throughout his career. He won, and when she accepted the Oscar for him she said it was "the happiest night of my life." Director Roger Vadim once said about her: "Living with Jane was difficult in the beginning... she had so many—how do you say?—bachelor habits. Too much organization. Time is her enemy. She cannot relax. Always there is something to do." Vadim also said about her: "There is also in Jane a basic wish to carry things to the limit."

In 2005, Fonda published her memoirs, "My Life, So Far." In it, she candidly examines her controversial life, as well as the internalized misogyny that she says contributed to her lifelong habit of quickly conforming to the habits, desires, and ambitions of the men in her life at the expense of her own character.

Fonda, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, describes herself as a liberal, "feminist Christian."

Acting career

Missing image

While growing up she had no acting ambitions, but she got interested in 1954 when she performed with her dad in a charity performance of The Country Girl, at the Omaha Community Theatre. During that show, she had to cry, and in order to coax the tears she reportedly had a stagehand smack her before she walked on. She attended Vassar College in New York, was introduced to Lee Strasberg by her father in 1958, and joined his Actors Studio. She would later receive an Honorary Degree from Emerson College in May, 2000.

Her stage work in the late 1950s led to her impressive film career that only gained momentum after the 1960s. She averaged almost two movies a year throughout the decade, starting in 1960 with Tall Story, in which Jane recreated her Broadway role of a cheery college student opposite gangly Anthony Perkins. Period of Adjustment, in which she went blonde, and Walk on the Wild Side, with Jane as the young temptress Kitty Twist, came in 1962 along with a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer, with Sunday in New York following a year later. Critics were quickly impressed with her: In 1962, Newsday called her "the loveliest and most gifted of all our new young actresses." Jane's big-screen breakthrough was Cat Ballou (1965), in which she played the sweet title role that had been offered to Ann-Margret but rejected. The rootin'-tootin' Western got five Oscar nominations, was one of the year's top-ten moneymakers, and made her a star at age 28. After Any Wednesday in 1966 and Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford in 1967 came the dazzling Barbarella in 1968, which sent her sexpot image into orbit. By contrast, the grim They Shoot Horses, Don't They? in 1969 showcased her serious acting talent, bringing her the first of seven Oscar nominations. One more role for which she was supposedly first choice, but she didn't take—Rosemary in Rosemary's Baby, the part finally played by Mia Farrow.

She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home, and was nominated five more times.

Due to the furor over her activities in Vietnam, many believed Fonda's acting career was dead (a low point was her brief role in the disastrous mid-70's flop The Blue Bird). But Fonda had an unexpected comeback with the 1976 comedy Fun With Dick and Jane. Fonda claimed she would only make films which focused on important issues, and she generally stuck to her word, racking up popular and much-discussed projects such as 1979's The China Syndrome (about nuclear power plants) and 1980's 9 to 5 (about a meek divorcee reentering the workforce). Another role Fonda considered very important was On Golden Pond - although it was a supporting part, Fonda had always wanted to work with her father Henry to help their sometimes stormy relationship. Henry won an Academy Award for his performance, which Jane accepted on his behalf. He died several months later.

Fonda sporadically appeared in films until 1990. Her most recent film was "Monster-in-Law" (2005), a comedy costarring Jennifer Lopez and Wanda Sykes.

Political activism

Fonda became involved in political activism during the time of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Reforms and significant rebellion against the "Establishment." Her activism and philanthropy in opposition to the Vietnam War, as well as perceived support of the North Vietnamese, made her infamous among pro-war and pro-military Americans.

Fonda and other celebrities were supporters of the Alcatraz Island occupation in 1969, which was intended to call attention to Native American issues.

She likewise supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s. She said "revolution is an act of love; we are the children of revolution, born to be rebels. It runs in our blood." She called the Black Panthers "our revolutionary vanguard. We must support them with love, money, propaganda and risk."

Opposition to the Vietnam War

Main article: Opposition to the Vietnam War

In April 1970, Fred Gardner, Fonda and Donald Sutherland formed *FTA* ("Free The Army," a play on the troop expression "Fuck The Army"), an antiwar road show designed as an answer to Bob Hope's USO tour. The tour, referred to as "political vaudeville" by Fonda, visited military towns along the West Coast, with the goal of establishing a dialog with soldiers to get their thoughts on their upcoming deployments (which were later made into a movie).

Also in 1970, Fonda spoke out against the war at a rally organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She offered to help raise funds for VVAW, and was bestowed the title of Honorary National Coordinator for her efforts. Beginning November 3, she toured college campuses and raised funds for the organization. As noted by the New York Times, Fonda was a "major patron" of the VVAW.

In March 1971, Fonda traveled to Paris (some claim alone, some claim with an unnamed VVAW representative) to meet with NLF foreign minister Madam Nguyen Thi Binh. According to a transcript in which she was translated to Vietnamese and back to English, she told Binh at one point "Many of us have seen evidence proving the Nixon administration has escalated the war causing death and destruction perhaps as serious as the, bombing of Hiroshima." Afterwards, she travelled to London. A speech that she gave in London was criticized for her discussion of the US use of torture in Vietnam. Her financial support to VVAW at this time was apparently not significant, as within a month VVAW was broke and one of its prominent leaders, John Kerry, raised the needed funds.

Sixteen months later, Fonda went on her well-known trip to Hanoi.

"Hanoi Jane"

Missing image
Jane Fonda in Hanoi, 1972

Although the war was largely protested at home by this time, and many Americans were against the war, her actions in July, 1972, were widely perceived as over the top. The anti-war movement of the time was not characterized by a single motivation: some, such as Quakers and other traditionally pacifist groups were opposed to war in any circumstances; some felt that the war was not an American responsibility or concern, arguing especially that it was a civil war in which the US was choosing sides; some, such as young men of draft age, their parents and friends, didn't want their lives risked in an unpopular war; but some expressed a partisanship for the opposing side in the war, including Jane Fonda—and this made her a polarizing figure.

She became the target of hatred from many Americans because of her visit to Hanoi, where she advocated opposition to the war. Her detractors labeled her Hanoi Jane, comparing her to war propagandists Tokyo Rose and Hanoi Hannah. She has often been associated with contributing to a perceived anti-soldier sentiment among Vietnam War protesters, such as spitting on soldiers. Because of her actions, John Wayne cut off contact with her, even though he was a close friend of her fathers, and the Fonda children considered him an uncle.

When Jane Fonda was honored by Barbara Walters in 1999 as one of the 100 great women of the century, sentiments regarding Fonda's actions in Vietnam were rekindled. Rumors that Fonda handed over information about U.S. soldiers to National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgents (better known in the U.S. as the "Viet Cong") are proven to be untrue, as are reports that a pilot spat at Fonda and was beaten for it and that one POW was beaten to death for refusing to meet with her. The latter story, though, may be an exaggeration of the true account of Michael Benge, a civilian advisor captured by the NLF in 1968 and held as a POW for 5 years. He wrote "When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as 'humane and lenient.' Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel re-bar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped." [1] (http://www.snopes.com/military/fonda.htm) [2] (http://www.pownetwork.org/fonda/fonda_benge_letter.htm)

Anti-aircraft gun controversy and apology

Fonda posed for a picture at an anti-aircraft battery and participated in several radio broadcasts. She also visited American prisoners of war who assured her that they had neither been tortured nor brainwashed. Fonda believed these claims and relayed them to the American public. When cases of torture began to emerge among POWs returning to the United States, Fonda called them liars. She also added, concerning the POWs she met, "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." Concerning torture in general, Fonda told the New York Times in 1973, "I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture...but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie." Her stance has some backing, as former vice presidential candidate and POW James Stockdale wrote that no more than 10% of US pilots in captivity received more than 90% of the torture, usually for acts of resistance. Additionally, John Hubbel's research into the conflict indicates that the majority (but certainly not all) of the torture occurred before 1969. Fonda's visit to Hanoi was not until July of 1972, and the Paris Peace Accords were signed less than six months later. Fonda delivered home letters from many American POWs in Vietnam. She also is often credited with publicly exposing the strategy of bombing the dikes in Vietnam, for which she was at the time called a "liar" by then-UN ambassador George H. W. Bush.

In 1988, Fonda apologized to former American POWs and their families, stating, "I would like to say something, not just to Vietnam veterans in New England, but to men who were in Vietnam, who I hurt, or whose pain I caused to deepen because of things that I said or did. I was trying to help end the killing and the war, but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it and I'm very sorry that I hurt them. And I want to apologize to them and their families." She stated: "I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless." On the Charlie Rose programme, Fonda made the distinction that her apology was limited to the photo appearance with the NVA AA-gun, and that she was "proud" of her activism against "the bombing of the dikes."

In 2004, her name was used as a disparaging epithet against Kerry, the former VVAW leader, who was then the Democratic Party presidential candidate. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie called Kerry a "Jane Fonda Democrat". In addition, Kerry's opponents circulated a photograph showing Fonda and Kerry in the same large crowd at a 1970 anti-war rally, although they were sitting several rows apart. [3] (http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/kerry.asp) Some also circulated a faked composite photograph to give the false impression that the two had shared a speaker's platform. [4] (http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/kerry2.asp) Fonda appeared on CNN to defend Kerry against these attacks.

Fonda funded and organized the Indochina Peace Campaign. It continued to mobilize antiwar activists across the nation after the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement when most other antiwar organizations closed down.

In a 60 Minutes interview on March 31, 2005, Jane Fonda says she has no regrets about her trip to North Vietnam in 1972, with one exception: her visit to a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun site. She says the incident that brought her the nickname "Hanoi Jane," was a "betrayal" of American forces and of the "country that gave me privilege." Fonda was quoted as saying "The image of Jane Fonda, `Barbarella,' Henry Fonda's daughter ... sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal ... the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine."

Fonda made the distinction between regret over the use of her image as propaganda, and pride for her anti-war activism; visiting Hanoi and being photographed with American prisoners of war there. "There are hundreds of American delegations that had met with the POWs," says Fonda. "Both sides were using the POWs for propaganda....It's not something that I will apologize for." Nor is she sorry for the broadcasts she made on Radio Hanoi, something she asked the North Vietnamese to do. "Our government was lying to us and men were dying because of it, and I felt I had to do anything that I could to expose the lies and help end the war," she tells 60 Minutes.

On April 19, 2005, a man named Michael A. Smith from Kansas City, Missouri took advantage of one of Fonda's book signings by spitting tobacco juice in her face and running away. Minutes later, Smith was caught by off-duty police who were providing security for the event. He said the reason he spat in Fonda's face was because Fonda was a "traitor," and said his actions were "absolutely worth it." Fonda declined to press charges; police cited Smith with disorderly conduct; he will go to court on May 27, 2005. After being spat in the face, Fonda kept signing books without getting up. On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno she said, "I felt sorry for him."

In May 2005, Kentucky resident Irving Bouthwell announced (http://www.news24.com/News24/Entertainment/Abroad/0,,2-1225-1243_1706758,00.html) that his two movie theaters would not show Fonda's new film Monster-in-law. Bouthwell (who had in the past banned other Fonda films and Fahrenheit 9/11) hung photos outside the theater of Fonda clapping with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft crew.

Slayings of women in Ciudad Jurez

Fonda led the march through Ciudad Jurez, urging Mexico to provide sufficient resources to newly appointed officials helping investigate the slayings of hundreds of women in the rough border city. (February 16, 2004)

Campaign against genital mutilation

V-Day, a movement to stop violence against women, sparked by the off-Broadway hit The Vagina Monologues, held its first summit Friday, bringing together Fonda, Afghan women and a Kenyan campaigning to save girls from genital mutilation. (September 21, 2002)

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Fonda continues to participate in peace activism, in particular regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fonda has been attacked by right-wing Israelis during a trip to Jerusalem in 2002 to promote world peace— the actress and activist was heckled as she arrived for a meeting with leading Israeli feminists. Three hecklers, members of Women in Green, criticized her controversial stance during the Vietnam War and said that she "came to Israel as a guest of Peace Now, Israeli traitors" [5] (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1202/jane_jeru.html).

Opposition to Iraq War

Fonda says that the military campaign in Iraq will turn people all over the world against America. She has also asserted that a global hatred of America will result in more terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the war. (April 11, 2003)

Later career

In the early 1980s she reinvented herself as a health guru, setting up the Jane Fonda Workout studio in Beverly Hills and creating best-selling books and tapes (her "Jane Fonda's Workout" is one of the best-selling videos of all time). Leading the aerobics craze, she was particularly noted in this regard for popularising the phrase "go for the burn", for which she was criticised. While retired from acting in the late 1980s (she announced that she would never act again in April 1991), her latest endeavors have been philanthropic. She works to prevent adolescent pregnancy, and in July of 2001 this item ran in the L.A. Times:

"Atlanta's Emory University unveiled the Jane Fonda Center Thursday, using a $2-million donation from the actress and former fitness guru to study adolescent reproductive health research, training and program development. Fonda's gift will include an endowment to create a research position specializing in teen sexuality and reproductive health. Earlier this year, Fonda gave $12.5 million to Harvard's Graduate School of Education for a study of gender in education."

In early 2004, she announced she'd return to acting after a fourteen-year absence. Her recent movie, Monster-in-Law, released in May 2005, was a comedy in which she plays Jennifer Lopez's prospective mother-in-law. Fonda received rave reviews for her performance, and the film debuted at #1 in the American box office, making over $23 million in its opening weekend. That same month there were reports (http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=84484&cat=Entertainment) she was in talks to film a sequel to 9 to 5.

Family members

  • Brother: Peter Fonda, actor, director, producer
  • Daughter: Vanessa Vadim; born in 1968; father, Roger Vadim; named after Vanessa Redgrave
  • Son: Troy Garity, actor; born in 1973; father Tom Hayden; named after a Vietnamese resistance leader and given paternal grandmother's surname
  • Daughter: Mary Williams, foster child, raised with Tom Hayden
  • Niece: Bridget Fonda, actor; born in 1964; daughter of Peter Fonda

Marriages and relationships

Jane Fonda has been married three times:

  • Her third husband (1991-2001) was American cable-television tycoon Ted Turner.

She has also had romantic relationships with:

  • Alexander "Sandy" Whitelaw, director; involved 1960
  • Donald Sutherland, actor; costarred in Klute; together 1970s
  • Barry Matalon, hairdresser; together 1990s

Film awards and nominations


External links

de:Jane Fonda es:Jane Fonda eo:Jane FONDA fr:Jane Fonda ja:ジェーン・フォンダ sv:Jane Fonda ru:Фонда, Джейн Сеймур


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