Fonda, Jane 1937–

views updated May 23 2018

FONDA, Jane 1937–


Full name, Jane Seymour Fonda; born December 21, 1937, in New York, NY; daughter of Henry (an actor) and Frances Seymour (maiden name, Brokaw) Fonda; sister of Peter Fonda (an actor and director); aunt of Bridget Fonda (an actress) and Justin Fonda (an actor); married Roger Vadim (a director and producer), August 14, 1965 (divorced January 16, 1973); married Tom Hayden (an activist and politician), January 20, 1973 (divorced, 1989); married Ted Turner (a media executive and entrepreneur), December 21, 1991 (divorced May 22, 2001); children: (first marriage) Vanessa (a producer and owner of a production company); (second marriage) Troy Garity (an actor) and Luana Williams; stepchildren: (first marriage) Nathalie; (third marriage) five. Education: Attended Vassar College; studied acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Religion: Born–again Christian.

Addresses: Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist— PMK/HBH Public Relations, 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Career: Actress, producer, and writer. Worked as a professional model, appearing on the covers of Esquire, Glamour, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, and Vogue, all in 1959; Actors Studio, New York City, member, 1960—; IPC Films, founder (with Bruce Gilbert), 1976; Fonda Films, Los Angeles, CA, founder; Tinwood Books, part owner, 2001—. Former owner of exercise studios; political and social activist.

Member: Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Hollywood Women's Political Committee, Entertainment Industry for Peace and Justice (anti–war troupe; founder, 1971), Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (founder, 1995), Turner Foundation (member of the board of directors).

Awards, Honors: Variety New York Drama Critics Poll Award, Theatre World Award, and Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best featured actress in a play, 1960, all for There Was a Little Girl; Golden Laurel Award, top female new personality, Motion Picture Exhibitors of America, 1960; Laurel Award, 1960, for Tall Story; Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard University, 1961; Golden Globe Award (with Christine Kaufmann and Ann–Margret), most promising newcomer—female, 1962; Golden Laurel Award second place, top female comedy performance, 1963, for Period of Adjustment; Golden Laurel Award nomination, top female star, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a musical or comedy, 1965, Golden Laurel Award, comedy performance, female, 1966, both for Cat Ballou; Golden Laurel Award second place, female dramatic performance, 1967, for Hurry Sundown; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress—musical/comedy, 1967, for Any Wednesday; Golden Laurel Award second place, female comedy performance, Film Award nomination, best foreign actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1968, both for Barefoot in the Park; New York Film Critics Circle Award and Academy Award nomination, both best actress, Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a drama, 1969, Film Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1971, all for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; Golden Laurel Award nomination, female comedy performance, 1970, for Barbarella; Academy Award, New York Film Critics Circle Award, and National Society of Film Critics Award, all best actress, and Golden Globe Award, best motion picture actress in a drama, 1971, Film Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, all for Klute; Golden Globe Award, female world film favorite, 1973, 1979, and 1980; Fotogramas de Plata, best foreign performer, 1973; Golden Apple Award, female star of the year, Hollywood Women's Press Club, 1977; Film Award, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Globe Award, best motion picture actress in a drama, and Academy Award nomination, best actress, 1977, all for Julia; Academy Award, best actress, and Golden Globe Award, best motion picture actress in a drama, both 1978, for Coming Home; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, best actress, 1978, for Coming Home, Comes a Horseman, and California Suite; SANE Education Fund/Consider the Alternatives Peace Award, 1979; Film Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Academy Award nomination, both best actress, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a drama, 1979, Marquee Award nomination, best actress, American Movie Awards, 1980, all for The China Syndrome; ShoWest Award, female star of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1979; Marquee Award, favorite film star—female, 1980; People's Choice Awards, best motion picture actress, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983; Academy Award nomination, best supporting actress, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a supporting role, 1981, Marquee Award, best supporting actress, American Movie Awards, 1982, Film Award nomination, best supporting actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1983, all for On Golden Pond; Crystal Award, 1981; Grammy Award nomination, best spoken word or non–musical recording, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1983, for Jane Fonda's Workout Record for Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery; Emmy Award, outstanding actress in a limited series or special, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, both 1984, for The Dollmaker; rated number one heroine for young Americans, U.S. News & World Report Roper poll, 1985; rated the fourth most admired woman in America, Ladies Home Journal Roper poll, 1985; Academy Award nomination, best actress, 1986, for The Morning After; Golden Boot Award, 1993; Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding informational series, 1994, for A Century of Women; named one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, Empire magazine (Great Britain), 1997; Emerson College, honorary degree, 2000; Lifetime Achievement Award, Savannah Film and Video Festival, 2001; Gala Tribute, Film Society of Lincoln Center, 2001.


Film Appearances:

(Film debut) June Ryder, Tall Story, Warner Bros., 1960.

Voice of Debbie, Debbie (documentary short film), New Hampshire Children's Aid Society, 1961.

Kathleen Barclay, The Chapman Report, Warner Bros., 1962.

Kitty Twist, Walk on the Wild Side, Columbia, 1962.

Isabel Haverstick, Period of Adjustment, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1962.

Christine Bonner, In the Cool of the Day, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1963.

Eileen Tyler, Sunday in New York, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1963.

Melinda, Les felins (also known as Joy House and The Love Cage), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1964.

Herself, The Living Camera: Jane, Time–Life Films, 1964.

(Uncredited) Herself, Filmmaking on the Riviera, 1964.

Sophie, La ronde (also known as Circle of Love), Sterling, 1965.

Catherine "Cat" Ballou (title role), Cat Ballou, Columbia, 1965.

Anna Reeves, The Chase, Columbia, 1966.

Ellen Gordon, Any Wednesday (also known as Bachelor Girl Apartment), Warner Bros., 1966.

Renee Saccard, La curee (also known as The Game Is Over, La calda preda, and Tears of Rapture), Royal, 1967.

Julie Ann Warren, Hurry Sundown, Paramount, 1967.

Corie Bratter, Barefoot in the Park, Paramount, 1967.

Title role, Barbarella (also known as Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy), Paramount, 1968.

Contessa Frederica, "Metzengerstein," Tre passi nel delirio (also known as Spirits of the Dead, Tales of Mystery, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Histoires extraordinaires, and Trois histoires extraordinaires d'Edgar Poe), American International Pictures, 1969.

Gloria Beatty, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, ABC/Cinerama, 1969.

Bree Daniels, Klute, Warner Bros., 1971.

Herself, F.T.A. (documentary), American International Pictures, 1972.

Narrator, Letter to Jane (documentary; also known as Lettre a Jane), New Yorker, 1972.

Iris Caine, Steelyard Blues (also known as The Final Crash), Warner Bros., 1973.

Her, Suzanne, Tout va bien (also known as All's Well and Crepa padrone, tutto va bene), New Yorker, 1973.

Herself, Introduction to the Enemy (documentary), IPC Films, 1974.

The night, The Blue Bird (also known as Sinyaya ptitsa), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1976.

Jane Harper, Fun with Dick and Jane, Columbia, 1977.

Lillian Hellman, Julia, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1977.

Sally Hyde, Coming Home (also known as Hemkomsten), United Artists, 1978.

Visitors from New York—Hannah Warren, California Suite (also known as Neil Simon's California Suite), Columbia, 1978.

Ella Connors, Comes a Horseman, United Artists, 1978.

Kimberly Wells, The China Syndrome, Columbia, 1979.

Alice "Hallie" Martin, The Electric Horseman, Universal, 1979.

Herself, Cultural Celebrities, Capital Studios, 1979.

Herself, No Nukes (documentary; also known as The Muse Concert: No Nukes), Warner Bros., 1980.

Judy Bernley, Nine to Five (also known as 9 to 5), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1980.

Chelsea Thayer Wayne, On Golden Pond, Universal, 1981.

Lee Winters, Rollover, Warner Bros., 1981.

Herself, Acting: Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio (documentary), Davada Enterprises, 1981.

Madame Wang's, 1981.

Herself, American Mythologies, 1981.

Herself, Sois belle et tais–toi, 1981.

Herself, Montgomery Clift (documentary), Ciak Studio Productions, 1982.

Dr. Martha Livingston, Agnes of God, Columbia, 1985.

We Are the World: The Video Event, Columbia, 1985.

Alex Sternbergen, The Morning After, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1986.

Herself, Leonard Part 6, Columbia, 1987.

Retour, 1987.

Harriet Winslow, Old Gringo, Columbia, 1988.

Iris King, Stanley and Iris, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1990.

(In archive footage) Herself, Oscar's Greatest Moments, 1992.

(Uncredited; in archive footage) Herself, Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment, National Film Board of Canada, 1999.

Herself, Searching for Debra Winger, 2002.

(In archive footage) Herself, A Decade Under the Influence, IFC Films, 2003.

Film Work:

(With others) Producer, F.T.A., American International Pictures, 1972.

(With others) Director, Introduction to the Enemy (documentary), IPC Films, 1974.

Producer, Coming Home, United Artists, 1978.

(With others) Producer, The China Syndrome, Columbia, 1979.

Producer, Nine to Five (also known as 9 to 5), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1980.

Producer, On Golden Pond, Universal, 1981.

Producer, Rollover, Warner Bros., 1981.

Producer, Old Gringo, Columbia, 1988.

Acting coach, Bandits, 2001.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

(Uncredited) Herself, The Ten Thousand Day War, 1980.

Narrator, A Century of Women (also known as A Family of Women), TBS, 1994.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Nora Helmer, A Doll's House (also known as Maison de poupee), ABC, 1973.

Gertie Nevels, The Dollmaker, ABC, 1984.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Gloria Winters, A String of Beads, ABC, 1961.

Superstunt (documentary), NBC, 1977.

Host, The American Film Institute Salute to Bette Davis, 1977.

Variety '77—The Year in Entertainment, CBS, 1978.

The American Film Institute Salute to Henry Fonda, CBS, 1978.

The Helen Reddy Special, ABC, 1979.

Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1979.

Herself, The Making of "The China Syndrome," 1979.

The Sensational, Shocking, Wonderful, Wacky Seventies, CBS, 1980.

Wanda, Lily—Sold Out, CBS, 1981.

Sixty Years of Seduction, 1981.

Starring Katharine Hepburn, 1981.

I Love Liberty, ABC, 1982.

Judy Bernley, Lily for President?, CBS, 1982.

Herself, Night of 100 Stars, 1982.

Hostess, Olympic Gala, 1984.

Windows on Women, PBS, 1985.

"Maggie Kuhn," An American Portrait, CBS, 1985.

Fit for a Lifetime (also known as Lifetime Health Styles), Lifetime, 1986.

NBC News Report on America: Life in the Fat Lane (documentary), NBC, 1987.

The Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies, ABC, 1987.

Host, The American Film Institute Salute to Barbara Stanwyck, ABC, 1987.

Gregory Peck—His Own Man (documentary), Cinemax, 1988.

The American Film Institute Salute to Gregory Peck, NBC, 1989.

The Disney/MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening, NBC, 1989.

The Journey of Carlos Fuentes: Crossing Borders (documentary), PBS, 1989.

Time Warner Presents the Earth Day Special (also known as The Earth Day Special), ABC, 1990.

Night of 100 Stars III (also known as Night of One Hundred Stars), NBC, 1990.

Host, "Mysterious Elephants of the Congo," World of Audubon Specials (also known as National Audubon Society Specials; documentary), TBS/PBS, 1991.

Host, "Battle for the Great Plains," World of Audubon Specials (documentary; also known as National Audubon Society Specials), TBS/PBS, 1992.

Laughing Back: Comedy Takes a Stand, Lifetime, 1992.

Host, Fonda on Fonda (documentary), TNT, 1992.

"What Is This Thing Called Love?," Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1993.

November 22, 1963: Where Were You? A Larry King Special Live from Washington, TNT, 1993.

Host, "Facts of the Mind," People Count, TBS, 1994.

Host, "Facts of the Heart," People Count, TBS, 1994.

Host, "The Facts of Life," People Count, TBS, 1994.

Narrator, Hollywood Stars: A Century of Cinema (documentary; also known as A Century of Cinema), The Disney Channel, 1995.

Herself, The First 100 Years: A Celebration, 1995.

Inside the Academy Awards (documentary), TNT, 1995.

Host, Moms of a Lifetime (documentary), Lifetime, 1997.

Host, Making It Happen—The Road from Rio (documentary), TBS, 1997.

Herself, "Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1997.

Narrator, A Century of Women (documentary), CNN, 1998.

Host, Forging Ahead (documentary), TBS, 1998.

Host, Fishing for Answers (documentary), TBS, 1998.

Herself, A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women with Barbara Walters (documentary), ABC, 1999.

Host, People Count: Six Billion (documentary), TBS and CNN, 1999.

Herself, Jane Fonda: The E! True Hollywood Story (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 2000.

Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2000.

Narrator, Intimate Portrait: Rosalynn Carter (documentary), Lifetime, 2000.

Host, Hot on the Trail (documentary), TBS and CNN, 2000.

Herself, AFI's 100 Years, 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart–Pounding Movies, CBS, 2001.

Herself, Peter Fonda: Fortunate Son, 2002.

Herself, A&E Biography: Peter Fonda (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2002.

Narrator, Complicated Women (documentary), TCM, 2003.

Herself, The Mark Twain Prize: Lily Tomlin, PBS, 2003.

Herself, World VDAY (documentary; also known as Until the Violence Stops), Lifetime, 2003.

Intimate Portrait: Eve Ensler, Lifetime, 2003.

Herself, The Biography Special: The Fondas (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2004.

Also appeared in Tell Them I'm a Mermaid.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Presenter, The 41st Annual Academy Awards, 1969.

Herself, The 44th Annual Academy Awards, 1972.

Host, The 30th Annual Tony Awards, 1976.

Cohost, The 49th Annual Academy Awards, 1977.

Herself, The 51st Annual Academy Awards, 1979.

Presenter, The 52nd Annual Academy Awards, 1980.

Herself, The 54th Annual Academy Awards, 1982.

Herself, The 11th American Music Awards, 1984.

Cohost, the 58th Annual Academy Awards, 1986.

The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1989.

The 16th Annual People's Choice Awards, CBS, 1990.

The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1990.

The Sixth Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame, Fox, 1990.

Herself, The 7th Annual American Cinema Awards, 1990.

The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.

Fourth Annual Environmental Media Awards, TBS, 1994.

Presenter, The Third Annual Trumpet Awards Ceremony, 1995.

Presenter, The Fourth Annual Trumpet Awards, TBS, 1996.

Presenter, The Fifth Annual Trumpet Awards, TBS, 1997.

Presenter, The Sixth Annual Trumpet Awards, TBS, 1998.

Presenter, The 72nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2000.

Presenter, The 2000 Trumpet Awards, TBS, 2000.

The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Person to Person, CBS, 1960.

Mystery guest, What's My Line?, 1960, 1964, 1967.

Password, 1962, 1963.

Herself, Cinepanorama, 1963.

The David Frost Show, syndicated, 1969.

The Great American Dream Machine, PBS, 1971.

(Scenes deleted) Herself, V.I.P.–Schaukel, 1972.

The Phil Donahue Show, syndicated, 1972.

The Mike Douglas Show, syndicated, 1974.

Headliners with David Frost, NBC, 1978.

Herself, "Hollywood USA: Jane Fonda, 40 ans," Cine regards, 1978.

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, NBC, 1981.

O'Neal, "The Security Guard," 9 to 5, ABC, 1982.

Herself, "Wetten, dass..? aus Bremerhaven," Wetten, dass..?, 1987.

Herself, "Michael Jackson: A Tribute," America's Top 10, 1989.

Herself, "Wetten, dass..? aus Oldenburg," Wetten, dass..?, 1989.

Herself, Le Divan, 1989.

Herself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996, 1997.

Herself, Good Morning America (also known as GMA), ABC, 1997.

Herself, 20/20 (also known as ABC News 20/20), ABC, 2001.

Herself, Pgisha Leilit, 2002.

Herself, The View, ABC, 2002.

Also appeared in Girl Talk, syndicated; The Merv Griffin Show, syndicated.

Television Work; Series:

(With Bruce Gilbert) Executive producer, 9 to 5, ABC, 1982–1983.

Television Work; Movies:

(With others) Producer, The Dollmaker, ABC, 1984.

(With others) Producer, Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (also known as Lakota Woman), TNT, 1994.

Stage Appearances:

(Stage debut) Nancy Stoddard, The Country Girl, Community House, Omaha, NE, 1954.

Patricia Stanley, The Male Animal, Cape Playhouse, Dennis, MA, then Falmouth Playhouse, Falmouth, MA, both 1956.

Patty O'Neill, The Moon Is Blue, North Jersey Playhouse, Fort Lee, NJ, 1959.

Toni Newton, There Was a Little Girl, Cort Theatre, New York City, 1960.

Jacky Durrant, No Concern of Mine, Westport Country Playhouse, Westport, CT, 1960.

Norma Brown, Invitation to a March, Music Box Theatre, New York City, 1960.

Tish Stanford, The Fun Couple, Lyceum Theatre, New York City, 1962.

Madeline Arnold, Strange Interlude, Hudson Theatre, New York City, 1963.

Night of 100 Stars III (also known as Night of One Hundred Stars), Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1990.

Major Tours:

Free the Army (revue), U.S. Army bases worldwide, 1970–1971.

Also toured Southeast Asia with an antiwar troupe, 1971.


Fitness Videos; as Creator and Performer:

Jane Fonda's Workout (also known as Workout), Lorimar, 1982.

Jane Fonda's Workout for Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery (also known as Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery Workout), Lorimar, 1983.

Jane Fonda's Workout Challenge (also known as Workout Challenge), Lorimar, 1983.

Jane Fonda's Easy Going Workout (also known as Easy Going Workout, Prime Time Workout, and Jane Fonda's Prime Time Workout), Lorimar, 1984.

Jane Fonda's New Workout (also known as New Workout), Lorimar, 1985.

Jane Fonda's Low Impact Aerobic Workout (also known as Low Impact Aerobic Workout), Lorimar, 1986.

Jane Fonda's Workout with Weights, Lorimar, 1987.

Jane Fonda's Toning and Shaping (also known as Toning and Shaping and Jane Fonda's Workout with Weights), A Vision, 1987.

Jane Fonda Presents Sports Aid (also known as Jane Fonda's Sports Aid and Sports Aid), Lorimar, 1987.

Jane Fonda's Start Up (also known as Start Up and Start Up with Jane Fonda), Lorimar, 1988.

Jane Fonda's Complete Workout (also known as Complete Workout), Lorimar, 1989.

Jane Fonda's Stress Reduction Program (also known as Stress Reduction Program), A Vision, 1989.

Jane Fonda's Lean Routine Workout (also known as Lean Routine Workout), Lorimar, 1990.

Jane Fonda's Light Aerobics and Stress Reduction Program (also known as Light Aerobics and Stress Reduction Program), Warner Studios, 1990.

Jane Fonda's Lower Body Solution (also known as Lower Body Solution), Lorimar, 1991.

Jane Fonda's Step Aerobic and Abdominal Workout (also known as Step Aerobic and Abdominal Workout), Lorimar, 1992.

Jane Fonda's Pregnancy Workout, Lorimar, 1993.

Jane Fonda's Favorite Fat Burners (also known as Favorite Fat Burners), Lorimar, 1993.

Jane Fonda's Step and Stretch Workout (also known as Step and Stretch Workout), Lorimar, 1994.

Jane Fonda's Yoga Exercise Workout (also known as Yoga Exercise Workout), A Vision, 1994.

Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Total Body Sculpting (also known as Personal Trainer Series: Total Body Sculpting), A Vision, 1995.

Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Low Impact Aerobics and Stretch (also known as Personal Trainer Series: Low Impact Aerobics and Stretch), A Vision, 1995.

Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Abs, Buns and Thighs (also known as Personal Trainer Series: Abs, Buns and Thighs), A Vision, 1995.

Fitness Albums; as Creator and Performer:

Jane Fonda's Workout Record for Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery, Columbia, 1983.

Jane Fonda's Workout Record, Columbia, 1984.

Jane Fonda's Prime Time Workout, Elektra, 1984.

Jane Fonda's Fitness Walkout, Warner Bros. Records, 1987.

Jane Fonda's Complete Workout, Warner Bros. Records, 1989.

Jane Fonda's Light Aerobics and Stress Reduction Program (also known as Light Aerobics and Stress Reduction Program), Warner Bros. Records, 1990.

Jane Fonda's Weight–Loss Walkout, Warner Bros. Records, 1991.



(With others) F.T.A., American International Pictures, 1972.


Jane Fonda's Workout Book, photographs by Steve Schapiro, Simon & Schuster, 1981.

(With Femmy DeLyser) Jane Fonda's Workout Record for Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery, photographs by Steve Schapiro, additional photographs by Hella Hammid, drawings by Kathy Jacobi, Simon & Schuster, 1983.

(With Mignon McCarthy) Women Coming of Age, photographs by Harry Langdon, Simon & Schuster, 1984.

Jane Fonda's Year of Fitness, Health and Nutrition, Simon & Schuster, 1984.

Jane Fonda's New Workout and Weight–Loss Program, photographs by Harry Langdon, Simon & Schuster, 1986.

Jane Fonda's New Low Impact Workout and Weight–Loss Program, Simon & Schuster, 1988.

Jane Fonda's New Pregnancy Workout and Total Birth Program, Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Cooking for Healthy Living, recipes by Robin Vitetta, photographs by Joyce Oudkerk Pool, illustrations by Jennie Oppenheimer, Turner Publications, 1996.

Contributor of articles to magazines, including McCall's, Ms., Redbook, TV Guide, and Woman's Day.



Business Leader Profiles for Students: Volume 1, Gale Research, 1999.

Davidson, Bill, Jane Fonda: An Intimate Biography, 1990.

The Fondas, Citadel Press, 1970.

Haddad–Garcia, George, The Films of Jane Fonda, Lyle Stuart, 1983.

Holzer, Henry Mark, and Erika Holzer, Aid and Comfort: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, McFarland & Company, 2002.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, 2000.


American Heritage, July, 2001, p. 30.

Christian Century, July 5, 2000, p. 713.

Entertainment Weekly, November 1, 1999, p. 108.

Good Housekeeping, February, 1996, pp. 24–6.

Insight on the News, November 25, 1996, pp. 20–1.

Ladies Home Journal, September, 1998, pp. 196–201.

Newsweek, November 30, 1998, p. 59.

People Weekly, October 29, 2001, p. 19.

Time, October 27, 1997, p. 27; April 27, 1998, p. 85.

Fonda, Jane

views updated Jun 11 2018


Nationality: American. Born: Jane Seymour Fonda in New York City, 21 December 1937; daughter of the actor Henry Fonda; sister of the actor Peter Fonda. Education: Attended Greenwich Academy, Connecticut; Emma Willard School, Troy, New York; Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. Family: Married 1) the director Roger Vadim, 1965 (divorced 1970), one daughter; 2) Tom Hayden, 1973 (divorced 1989), one son; 3) Ted Turner, 1991 (separated 2000). Career: 1955—stage debut with her father in The Country Girl in Omaha; late 1950s—joined the Actors Studio, New York; 1960—Broadway debut in There Was a Little Girl; film debut in Tall Story; 1965—French film debut in La Ronde, directed by Vadim; 1971—toured Southeast Asia with Anti-War Troupe, and visited North Vietnam, 1972; 1976—formed own production company, IPC Films: series of commercial and critical film successes followed; 1981—marketed popular exercise program on record and videotape and in book; 1980s on—has made numerous aerobic and exercise videotapes. Awards: Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, 1969; Oscar for Best Actress, and Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for Klute, 1971; Oscar for Best Actress, for Coming Home, 1978; Best Actress, British Academy, for Julia, 1978; Best Actress, British Academy, for The China Syndrome, 1979. Address: c/o Fonda Films, Inc., P.O. Box 491355, Los Angeles, CA 90049–9355, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


Tall Story (Logan) (as June Ryder)


Walk on the Wild Side (Dmytryk) (as Kitty Twist); The Chapman Report (Cukor) (as Kathleen Barclay); Period of Adjustment (Hill) (as Isabel Haverstick)


In the Cool of the Day (Stevens) (as Christine Bonner); Sunday in New York (Tewksbury) (as Eileen Tyler)


Les Félins (Joy House; The Love Cage) (Clément) (as Melinda)


La Ronde (Circle of Love) (Vadim) (as the married woman); Cat Ballou (Silverstein) (title role)


The Chase (Arthur Penn) (as Anna Reeves); Any Wednesday (Bachelor Girl Apartment) (as Ellen Gordon); La Curée (The Game Is Over) (Vadim) (as Renee Saccard)


Hurry Sundown (Preminger) (as Julie Ann Warren); Barefoot in the Park (Saks) (as Corie Bratter)


Barbarella (Vadim) (title role)


"Metzengerstein" ep. of Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) (Vadim) (as Countess Frederica); They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Pollack) (as Gloria)


Klute (Pakula) (as Bree Daniels)


F.T.A. (Foxtrot Tango Alpha; Free the Army; Fuck the Army) (Parker) (+ co-pr, co-sc); Steelyard Blues (Myerson) (as Iris)


Tout va bien (Godard and Gorin) (as She); A Doll's House (Losey—for TV) (as Nora)


Introduction to the Enemy (doc) (appearance)


The Bluebird (Cukor) (as Night)


Julia (Zinnemann) (as Lillian Hellman); Fun with Dick and Jane (Kotcheff) (as Jane)


Coming Home (Ashby) (as Sally Hyde); Comes a Horseman (Pakula) (as Ella Connors); California Suite (Ross) (as Hannah)


The China Syndrome (Bridges) (as Kimberley Wells); The Electric Horseman (Pollack) (as Hallie Martin)


Nine to Five (Higgins) (as Judy Barnly)


On Golden Pond (Rydell) (as Chelsea Thayer Wayne); Rollover (Pakula) (as Lee Winters)


The Dollmaker (Petrie—for TV) (as Gertie Knells, + co-pr)


Agnes of God (Jewison) (as Dr. Martha Livingston)


The Morning After (Lumet) (as Alex Sternbergen); Leonard Part 6 (Weiland) (as herself)


Old Gringo (Puenzo) (as Harriet Winslow, + pr)


Stanley and Iris (Ritt) (as Iris King)


A Century of Cinema (Thomas) (as herself); A Century of Women (Kopple) (as Narrator)


Cinéma Vérité: Defining the Moment (Wintonick—doc) (as herself)


By FONDA: books—

Jane Fonda's Workout Book, New York, 1981.

Jane Fonda's Year of Fitness and Health, New York, 1984.

Women Coming of Age, with Mignon McCarthy, New York, 1984.

Jane Fonda Cooking for Healthy Living, Atlanta, 1996.

By FONDA: articles—

"'I Prefer Films That Strengthen People': An Interview with Jane Fonda," in Cineaste (New York), v. 6, no. 4, 1975.

"Julia—Jane Fonda zu den Dreharbeiten," interview with D. Seyrig, in Frauen und Film (Berlin), December 1978.

"Never Play It Safe," interview in Films (London), March 1981.

"Jane Raw: An Emotionally Candid Fonda Opens up on Her Separation, Her Recovery, Her Lost Night in the Woods, God, and Death," interview with Sally Ogle Davis, in Los Angeles Magazine, October 1989.

"Remembering Dad," TV Guide, 11 January 1992.

On FONDA: books—

Springer, John, The Fondas: The Films and Careers of Henry, Jane, and Peter Fonda, New York, 1970.

Kiernan, Thomas, Jane: An Intimate Biography of Jane Fonda, New York, 1977.

Erlanger, Ellen, Jane Fonda, Minneapolis, 1981.

Haddad, G. G., The Films of Jane Fonda, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1981.

Guiles, Fred, Jane Fonda, The Actress in Her Time, New York, 1982.

Cole, Gerald, and Wes Farrell, The Fondas, London, 1984.

Spada, James, Fonda: Her Life in Pictures, London, 1985.

Vadim, Roger, Bardo, Deneuve and Fonda: The Memoirs of Roger Vadim, London, 1986.

Freedland, Michael, Jane Fonda: A Biography, London, 1988.

Anderson, Christopher, Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda, London, 1990; rev. ed., London, 1993.

Davidson, Bill, Jane Fonda: An Intimate Biography, New York, 1990.

Collier, Peter, The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty, London, 1991.

Shorto, Russell, Jane Fonda: Political Activism, Brookfield, Connecticut, 1991.

French, Sean, Jane Fonda: A Biography, Trafalgar Square, 1998.

On FONDA: articles—

Peary, G., "Jane Fonda on Tour: Answering 'Letter to Jane'," in Take One (Montreal), July 1974.

Young, T., "Fonda Jane," in Film Comment (New York), March-April 1978.

Kroll, Jack, "Jane Fonda," in The Movie Star Book, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Bygrave, Mike, and Joan Goodman, "Jane Fonda: Banking on Message Movies," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), November 1981.

Pally, M., "Choice Parts," in Film Comment (New York), September/October 1985.

Current Biography 1986, New York, 1986.

Posner, C., "Jane Fonda's Most Important Part," in Films in Review (New York), March 1987.

Davis, Sally Ogle, "Jane Fonda Bounces Back," in Cosmopolitan, January 1990.

Adler, Jerry, "Jane and Ted's Excellent Adventure," in Esquire (New York), February 1991.

Radio Times (London), 12 September 1992.

Norman, Barry, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" in Radio Times (London), 28 June 1997.

* * *

Jane Fonda's career has reflected her personal values and the political turmoil of her times. On the issue of Vietnam she acted in defiance of government constraints, risking surveillance and blacklisting, and at the expense of alienating her public. Years later, in 1984, conservative protesters picketed Marshall Field's department store in Chicago when she appeared there to promote a new line of exercise clothing. In September 1984, on the other hand, she was honored by earning an Emmy for her role in The Dollmaker, an ABC television presentation which she had attempted for 12 years to get on the air. Because of her celebrity and her outspokenness, her life became a public affair, fully documented in the popular press.

Fonda was born to a life of wealth and privilege. Her father, Henry Fonda, was a successful movie star, her mother an heiress of substantial means. After studying art, she had pursued a successful modeling career (twice featured on the cover of Vogue), before taking up studies with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Her first movie contract was with her father's friend, the director Josh Logan, for Tall Story in 1960, followed by Walk on the Wild Side and The Chapman Report. On the basis of these early films, the critic Stanley Kauffmann was among the first to acknowledge her talent in "performances that are not only fundamentally different from one another but are conceived without acting cliché and executed with skill." Ahead, however, were the consequences of her developing a political consciousness that would cause her to be variously described by others as a "lateblooming flower child" and an "all-American antiheroine." (Notably, her father once commented with disdain on her tendency to champion every social issue imaginable, calling her "Jane of Arc.")

In the next phase of her acting career the French director Roger Vadim transformed Fonda, after marrying her, into the sex goddess of his cartoonish Barbarella. About the same time, during the late 1960s, she became a social and political activist, dedicated to antiestablishment causes. A new seriousness was also reflected in her films, particularly They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Klute. Her political instincts drew her to the radical French director Jean-Luc Godard, who featured her in Tout va bien in 1973. Protesting the Vietnam War she founded in 1971 an antiwar troupe (Entertainment Industry for Truth and Justice) which toured Southeast Asia and went on to produce a film entitled F.T.A. (Foxtrot Tango Alpha, Free the Army, Fuck the Army).

Her well-intentioned opposition to the war characterized her as a radical in the minds of many Americans and alienated her from viewers who were political conservatives, as did her marriage to Tom Hayden, an antiwar militant who had been a highly visible spokesperson for the radical Left. In movies her political commitment continued to surface in Coming Home (about the physical and psychological effects of the Vietnam experience), Julia (in which she portrayed Lillian Hellman), and The China Syndrome (concerning the danger of a meltdown at a nuclear plant, released, by coincidence, just before the near meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania, conservative critics of the film having foolishly judged the plot to be preposterous). Other films in her later career have also shown a continuing and genuine concern for important and timely issues. Nine to Five, for example, was a satire on the male-dominated world of business, which, despite its box-office success, was by no means a trivial picture. On Golden Pond was also a huge popular success, mainly because it offered nostalgic appeal by casting Henry Fonda (in his last film) opposite Katharine Hepburn; but it provided, at the same time, a thoughtful examination of the problems of old age.

By the mid-1980s the Fonda image had mellowed, though the actress still seemed seriously interested in the problems of women and in liberal causes. "I believe it's important to make responsible films," Fonda remarked at the time The China Syndrome was released. The marketing success of her exercise program indicated a degree of mainstream acceptance, and the Motion Picture Academy was surely impressed by the achievement of On Golden Pond, a film project that involved a substantial personal commitment for her in a production she had instigated. Winning the Emmy Award in 1984 was another demonstration of popular appeal, newly extended to television. In The Dollmaker she presented the struggle of a poor woman from the South, attempting to hold her family together through a unique dispute in a northern industrial city where her husband had gone to find work. The Dollmaker seemed more sincere than brilliant, but it was certainly superior to the usual television fare.

The later stage of Fonda's career indicates a kind of withdrawal from the controversy that had marked much of her work. After her divorce from Hayden, she chose films that addressed social issues, but decidedly safe ones. The Morning After, for example, dealt with the issue of substance abuse, as Fonda portrayed an aging alcoholic. In Stanley and Iris, she dealt with an illiterate Robert De Niro, helping him learn to read. The issues here were safe and a far cry from Vietnam (who could possibly be in favor of illiteracy or alcoholism?). Many have seen Fonda's mellowing and her apparent embracing of capitalism (with her fitness empire estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars and her marriage to media mogul Ted Turner, from whom she is now separated) as a sign of hypocrisy; nevertheless, her melding of a political consciousness with an acting career has been hugely influential.

—James M. Welsh, updated by Matthew Hays

Fonda, Jane

views updated Jun 08 2018

Fonda, Jane



Jane Fonda was a member of a famous American theatrical family and received many of the industry's highest awards. Her multi-faceted career has included acting in films and television, starring in and marketing exercise videocassettes, and writing various non-fiction books, including Jane Fonda's New Pregnancy Workout and Total Birth Program. In the late 1990s she retired from active business to focus on family and social causes.

Personal Life

Jane Fonda was born at Doctor's Hospital in New York City in 1937 to future film star Henry Fonda and Frances Seymour Brokaw Fonda. Her mother, as a confident, wealthy widow, had married Fonda the previous year and along with her six year old daughter Frances (known as Pan) established residence in New York. Two years later Jane's brother Peter was born, and soon after the family moved to the Brentwood section of Los Angeles.

Born into wealth, Fonda's maternal lineage can be traced back to American Revolutionary leader Samuel Adams and to Jane Seymour, the third queen consort of King Henry VIII. Jane Fonda herself was called "Lady Jane" by her family almost from the time of her birth. The Fonda household accommodated cooks, maids, gardeners, and governesses. During her early childhood Jane's brother was favored by her mother, leading to the development of a closer bond between Jane and her father. Her father's film career was successful, but Henry was vocal about the types of roles he had to take in order to make it in Hollywood. It was this reality that Jane brought with her when she entered the film industry herself years later.

In 1949 the Fonda family relocated to Greenwich so Henry could act on Broadway. The following year, when Fonda was 13, her mother committed suicide after learning of her husband's interest in a much younger woman, Susan Blanchard. Told that her mother died from a sudden heart attack, Fonda only learned the truth a year later from a magazine article. Both she and her brother had difficulty coping with their mother's death and their father's quick remarriage. Peter attempted suicide while his father was on his honeymoon with Susan, and later turned to drugs. Fonda developed bulimia and suffered from this condition until she was 35.

Fonda attended Brentwood Town and Country School in Los Angeles and then Greenwich Academy in New York for elementary school. She graduated from the female preparatory Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and then entered Vassar. But Fonda never excelled academically, and she left college after only two years, much to the disappointment of her father.

Fonda turned a largely unhappy childhood into a successful life. In 1965 she moved to France to make films. There she met and married Roger Vadim. Vadim directed her in several movies, including Barbarella. Barbarella became both a cult classic and the film which many critics call a blemish on her acting career. In Barbarella, a science-fiction spoof, Fonda plays a beautiful astronaut who sleeps with every man who rescues her. Because of her status as a spokesperson for feminist causes, critics claimed that sexually exploitive film marred Fonda's career and undercut her credibility.

During the Vietnam War, Fonda met anti-war activist Tom Hayden. Soon after Fonda obtained a divorce from Vadim and married Hayden. Together they protested the war, formed the Indochina Peace Campaign (later forming a film production company with the same name), and attempted to clean up American politics. In 1989 Fonda divorced Hayden, and two years later she married billionaire media mogul Ted Turner, settling into a much more domestic phase of her life.

Career Details

Fonda first appeared on stage in 1955 at the Omaha Community Playhouse in a fundraiser for her Aunt Harriet. Fonda's father was also coaxed into taking a role in the production. He was quite surprised at his daughter's natural acting ability, although he did not encourage her to enter the acting profession. Fonda, in fact, did not seriously decide on an acting career until four years later, when she began to study acting with Lee Strasburg, director of the Actor's Studio. While taking her acting lessons, Fonda supported herself by modeling. She did quite well at that, appearing on the covers of Esquire,, Vogue, Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, and McCall's magazines in 1959.

Strasburg taught a technique of method acting that used inner motivation from past experiences to drive each performance. Actors such as Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, and Al Pacino were all schooled by Strasburg in method acting. Henry Fonda had expressed his dislike for the technique, but Jane found success in it. A number of people influenced her acting career, including her godfather, producer Joshua Logan, who signed her to a long-term contract. Immediately he cast her in a major motion picture, Tall Story, and in a Broadway play, There Was a Little Girl. Neither were critical successes. One play and three movies later, Fonda began to be recognized for her talents as an actress. In 1962 she bought her contract from Joshua Logan and began choosing her own roles.

Unfortunately, after a string of less noteworthy movies, her career languished. It was not until she met French director Roger Vadim, soon to be her first husband, that her film career improved. In France, Vadim made many movies with Fonda, including Cat Ballou and the screen adaptation of Neil Simon's Broadway smash Barefoot in the Park.

Fonda returned to the United States in 1969 to take a lead role in They Shoot Horses Don't They?; she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Two years later she played a prostitute stalked by a killer in Klute and won an Oscar for best actress.

It was with her Klute co-star Donald Sutherland that Fonda toured coffeehouses in the United States and later the Far East, in FTA, a satirical antiwar revue. During this time Fonda became known as "Hanoi Jane." Fonda's involvement in politics supplanted her work as an actress for a time, but by the mid-1970s she began to divide her time between political work and her career as a performer and producer of films.

The first feature film produced by Fonda's IPC production company was Coming Home. Her performance as the initially dutiful wife of a flag-waving Marine captain who falls in love with a paraplegic war veteran earned Fonda a second Academy Award. Ironically, Jane Fonda earned two Academy Awards before her famous father won one.

IPC also produced The China Syndrome, Nine to Five, the television movie The Dollhouse, for which Fonda won an Emmy for outstanding actress in a dramatic special, and On Golden Pond, the movie she filmed with her father and Katharine Hepburn. The plot of On Golden Pond paralleled Fonda and her father's own relationship in many ways. It was Henry Fonda's last role before his death and the highest grossing film of 1981. Although Jane Fonda did not win the supporting actress Oscar for which she was nominated, she did accept the Oscar for best actor on behalf of her father, who was too sick to attend the ceremonies.

In a very different kind of business move, Fonda established her first exercise studio in 1979. Following the studio came records, books, and videocassettes. Fonda's own fit and trim body, exposed in a bikini in On Golden Pond proved to be a powerful advertisement as a health craze swept the United States in the early 1980s. In 1981 Jane Fonda's Workout Book topped charts for best-selling books; Jane Fonda's Workout Record went double platinum (2 million copies sold); and Jane Fonda's Workout remains one of the best-selling videocassettes in history. In a shrewd move, Fonda used previously recorded music for which the artists had forgone their royalties. As Fonda's workout tapes sold millions, no royalties had to be paid.

Fonda continued to make controversial movies, including Agnes of God. Based on the equally-controversial Broadway play, Fonda first checked to see if the Roman Catholic Church had taken a position on the content of the play. As she told biographer Christopher Andersen, "I did not want to become embroiled in any Catholic controversy." The following year she played an alcoholic actress who blacks out and wakes up next to a dead body in The Morning After, which earned her a seventh Academy Award nomination.

Fonda starred in a few more films, but in 1996 she confirmed in a Good Housekeeping article that she had left her film career, stating: "After a 35-year career as an actress, I am out of the business. That's a big change. Work in many ways has defined me." Although she left behind her acting and producing career, Fonda was far from idle. In 1996 she published a cookbook, Jane Fonda: Cooking for healthy Living. She also created, with the help of a physiologist, a new series of workout tapes called The Personal Trainer Series. Her goal with the new series was to design a program that anyone could stick with, stating in Good Housekeeping, "Anyone can do 25 minutes."

Social/Economic Impact

Jane Fonda has had an enormous effect on the motion picture industry, has raised a nation's level of consciousness about a variety of societal and political issues, and has helped create the home video industry. One of the first things she did was overcome the loss of her mother and establish a name for herself in the same field as her father. Her training and talent enabled her to reap awards in the movie industry, and she used the prestige of being an award-winning actress to make the movies she wanted to make.

Chronology: Jane Fonda

1937: Born.

1954: First appeared on stage.

1959: Modeled for five magazine covers.

1960: Debuted in film Tall Story.

1971: Won Academy Award for Best Actress in Klute.

1979: Opened Jane Fonda Workout Studio in Beverly Hills.

1982: Released first of 16 exercise videocassettes

1987: Forced to apologize for past political activism by townspeople in Waterbury, CT.

1991: Married Ted Turner on her 54th birthday.

1996: Published cookbook.

While starring in controversial roles, she further stirred up controversy by speaking her mind. Her leftist political views alienated Fonda from many Americans. In fact, while filming the socially conscious film about adult illiteracy Stanley and Iris in 1988, Fonda was met with hostility and resentment and references to "Hanoi Jane" from 16 years earlier. These protests led to her first public apology for her Vietnam-era activities.

Fonda introduced the word "workout" to a nation and fueled the fitness craze that would continue throughout the 1990s, simultaneously proving to be a keen businesswoman. Fonda moved from radical to respectable in the eyes of the American public, enduring the collapse of two marriages, and acknowledging new-found faith in a greater power than herself. In the early 1980s Jane Fonda was one of the most respected and admired women in United States.

Her drive for personal achievement has diminished since her marriage to Ted Turner. Her fitness enterprise was driven by her commitment to exercise, but she eventually scaled back on her original beliefs on exercise duration. She came to believe that attitude was more important to optimal health than thinness. As reported in Good Housekeeping,this shift is reflected in the exercise video released in 1996 "that substitutes shorter, more moderate workouts for the more strenuous exercise she used to promote" for women to stay fit.

By 1993 over 10 million exercise tapes had been sold from the Fonda Video Fitness library, and Fonda herself remained healthy and fit, even as she turned 60. She remained politically active, particularly as a board member for the Turner Foundation, which focused on the environment and population growth. Fonda was personally interested in reducing teenage pregnancy through self-esteem role modeling programs.

Fonda held many conflicting roles during her varied career. She was a sex symbol feminist, a bulimic health instructor, a vocal anti-capitalist, and captain of an exercise empire. Fonda will be remembered for her movies, her activism, and for the inspiration she gave to the fitness movement. But perhaps most inspiring is Fonda's ability to continue to grow and evolve. This strength led to the many fruitful phases of her life.

Sources of Information

Contact at: Jane Fonda
P.O. Box 1198
Santa Monica, CA 90212


Andersen, Christopher. Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990.

Byers, Paula K. and Suzanne M. Bourgoin, eds. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.

Davidson, Bill. Jane Fonda: An Intimate Biography. New York: Dutton, 1990.

"Fonda, Jane (Seymour)." Contemporary Authors. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.

Guiles, Fred Lawrence. Jane Fonda: The Actress in Her Time. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1982.

Powell, Joanna. "Jane Fonda: A Surprising Talk About Putting Her Husband First, Traditional Family Life, and Shorter Workouts." Good Housekeeping, 24 February 1996.

Fonda, Jane

views updated May 18 2018

Jane Fonda

Born December 21, 1937
New York, New York

American actress and political activist

Actress Jane Fonda was one of the most prominent celebrity antiwar activists during the Vietnam War. But she took her antiwar stance a step further than all but the most radical activists. Rather than simply opposing U.S. policies, she actively supported America's enemy—the Communist government of North Vietnam. During a highly controversial visit to North Vietnam in 1972, Fonda angered many Americans by posing for pictures with an antiaircraft gun, criticizing U.S. soldiers on Radio Hanoi, and insisting that American prisoners of war were being treated well by the Communists. She continued to defend the North Vietnamese government even after the United States ended its involvement in the conflict.

Builds a career as an actress

Jane Seymour Fonda was born on December 21, 1937, in New York City. She was the daughter of Henry Fonda, a popular stage and movie actor of the time, and his second wife, Frances Seymour Brokaw Fonda. Jane's mother suffered from mental illness and committed suicide when Jane was a teenager. Since she never got along well with her father, she depended on her younger brother, Peter Fonda, for emotional support.

Her father's career as an actor meant that the Fonda family often moved back and forth between New York and Los Angeles. Jane attended private schools on both U.S. coasts during her childhood. In 1955 she completed her high school education at Emma Willard Academy in Troy, New York. She then attended Vassar College for two years. Insecure and lonely, Fonda made few close friends and struggled with the eating disorder bulimia during her student days. In 1957 she convinced her father to send her to Paris to study art, but she spent most of her time there partying instead.

After returning from Paris, Fonda studied acting at Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio in New York City. In 1959 she made her Broadway debut in the play There Was a Little Girl. She made her film debut the following year in Tall Story, which costarred Anthony Perkins. Throughout the 1960s Fonda built a promising career as an actress. Some of her early movies included Barefoot in the Park, Cat Ballou, The Chase, Barbarella, and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? She also married director Roger Vadim and lived in France for several years. In 1971 she won an Academy Award as best actress for her portrayal of a prostitute in Klute.

Becomes an antiwar activist

As her acting career took off, Fonda also was experiencing a political awakening. She became interested in feminism and other social causes. She also got involved in the growing protests against the Vietnam War, which pitted the Communist nation of North Vietnam and its secret allies, the South Vietnamese Communists known as the Viet Cong, against the U.S.supported nation of South Vietnam. North Vietnam wanted to overthrow the South Vietnamese government and reunite the two countries under one Communist government. But U.S. government officials felt that a Communist government in Vietnam would increase the power of the Soviet Union and threaten the security of the United States.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the U.S. government sent money, weapons, and military advisors to help South Vietnam defend itself. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson (see entry) sent American combat troops to join the fight on the side of South Vietnam. But increased U.S. involvement in the war failed to defeat the Communists. Instead, the war turned into a bloody stalemate. The American public was bitterly divided about how to proceed in Vietnam, and antiwar demonstrations took place across the country.

Fonda first became concerned about the Vietnam War when she was living in France. She recalled seeing French television coverage of the destruction that American bombing caused in Vietnam. She was also affected by news coverage of antiwar demonstrations in the United States, including the 1967 March on the Pentagon. "I watched women walking up to the bayonets that were surrounding the Pentagon and they were not afraid," she is quoted as saying in Jane Fonda: An Intimate Biography. "I'll never forget that experience. It completely changed me. It began all my searching for what was behind it all."

By the early 1970s Fonda had become one of the most visible celebrities involved in the antiwar movement. She often appeared at antiwar rallies, and she became romantically involved with the radical antiwar activist Tom Hayden (see entry). In 1971 Fonda organized a show that toured coffee-houses and theaters near American military bases. The show included skits and songs that made fun of the government and questioned American military involvement in Vietnam. Fonda intended it to provide a counterpoint to the patriotic shows put on by Bob Hope and other celebrities to entertain the American troops.

Since she was a well-known actress, Fonda attracted a great deal of publicity with her antiwar activities. Before long, she ended up on President Richard Nixon's (see entry) list of enemies of the U.S. government. Agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tapped her telephone, broke into her bank safe-deposit box, and harassed her friends and family. But Fonda continued to speak out against the war and the U.S. government's policies.

Makes a controversial visit to North Vietnam

In July 1972 Fonda made a highly controversial two-week visit to North Vietnam, whose military had been fighting U.S. forces for nearly a decade. Her Communist hosts gave her a tour of the damage that American bombing campaigns had caused in the capital city of Hanoi and the surrounding countryside. During this tour, Fonda posed with a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun that was used to shoot down U.S. planes. She also met with several American soldiers who were being held by the Communists as prisoners of war (POWs). The North Vietnamese arranged these meetings carefully and controlled the POWs with threats of torture. But Fonda ignored this possibility and announced to the world that the American prisoners were being treated well.

During her visit to North Vietnam, Fonda also broadcast a series of statements on Radio Hanoi in which she criticized American soldiers and the U.S. government and demanded an end to the bombing. Her words angered the U.S. soldiers and POWs who heard them. "It's difficult to put into words how terrible it is to hear that siren song that is so absolutely rotten and wrong," said American POW George Day in Citizen Jane. He went on to charge that Fonda "caused the deaths of unknown numbers of Americans by buoying up the enemy's spirits and keeping them in the fight."

Upon returning to the United States, Fonda came under harsh criticism for her public support of North Vietnam. People who approved of American involvement in Vietnam were furious. Some people claimed that she should be put on trial for treason (betraying the country). One conservative newspaper even printed an editorial suggesting that she should be shot. Many people who opposed the Vietnam War resented Fonda's actions as well. They said that her radical position in support of the enemy made the antiwar movement look bad. "Fonda did irreparable damage to the antiwar movement," antiwar veteran Dean Phillips told Myra MacPherson in Long Time Passing. "She [ticked] off 80 percent of Americans not on the fringes [of radical pro-war or antiwar feelings]."

Continues her defense of the Communists

Following her visit to North Vietnam, Fonda was so unpopular in the United States that her movie career ended for several years. In fact, she became known by the derogatory nickname "Hanoi Jane" (after the North Vietnam capital city of Hanoi). Fonda devoted her time to antiwar activities during these years. She married Tom Hayden in 1972, and together they formed the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC). Fonda also sued the U.S. government for harassing her, claiming that the FBI had engaged in illegal activities and violated her rights. She eventually settled the lawsuit when the FBI admitted its wrongdoing.

In early 1973 the United States and North Vietnam reached an agreement to end American involvement in the war. As part of the agreement, the Communists agreed to return all American POWs. When the POWs returned home, people across the country put aside their differences over the war and gave them a heroes' welcome. Over the next few months, the public learned about the terrible abuse and torture the POWs had endured at the hands of the North Vietnamese. But Fonda refused to believe the American soldiers and continued to defend the Communists. In fact, she called the American POWs liars and killers. These comments led to further criticism in the media and made her even more unpopular in American society.

In 1975 North Vietnam took control of South Vietnam to win the Vietnam War. At this time, thousands of South Vietnamese citizens who were considered threats to the new government were executed or sent to labor camps. But Fonda refused to join singer Joan Baez (see entry) and other well-known antiwar activists in urging Vietnam's government to end the violence. Instead, she criticized the activists and continued to defend the Communists.

Apologizes for her wartime actions

In the late 1970s Fonda revived her film career. She organized her own movie production company, called IPC Films, in order to make socially responsible movies that would be both "thought-provoking and commercial." In 1978 IPC released Coming Home, a film about a disabled Vietnam veteran who struggles to readjust to American society. Fonda earned a second Academy Award for her portrayal of the veteran's love interest. In 1979 she appeared in The China Syndrome, a critically acclaimed film about an accident at a nuclear power plant. Two years later she shared the screen with her famous father for the first time in On Golden Pond.

During the 1980s Fonda became one of the first celebrities to offer advice on fitness. She opened a chain of health clubs, published several best-selling diet books, and launched a series of popular home-exercise videotapes. The proceeds from these fitness enterprises helped finance her husband's political campaign for the California legislature. In the early 1990s Fonda divorced Tom Hayden and married Ted Turner, the owner of a huge cable-television and entertainment empire. At this time, she retreated from her earlier careers as an actress and activist and instead seemed content to be a supportive wife. In 2000, however, Fonda announced that she and her third husband were separating.

Fonda remains a controversial figure for her activities during and after the Vietnam War. Many American veterans still hold deep resentment toward her for her public support of North Vietnam. Looking back on her wartime activities years later, Fonda admitted that she had made some mistakes and caused some pain. "I am proud of most of what I did and I am very sorry for some of what I did," she said in an interview with Barbara Walters for the ABC network. "My intentions were never to hurt [the American soldiers and POWs] or make their situation worse. It was the contrary. I was trying to help end the killing, end the war, but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it."


Anderson, Christopher. Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda. New York: Henry Holt, 1990.

Davidson, Bill. Jane Fonda: An Intimate Biography. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1990.

Freedland, Michael. Jane Fonda: A Biography. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.

MacPherson, Myra. Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation. New York: Doubleday, 1984.

Jane Fonda

views updated May 29 2018

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda (born 1937) was a member of a famous American theatrical family and recipient of the industry's highest awards. Her numerous radical activities during the period of the Vietnam War brought animosity from some and adoration from others. In the post-Vietnam era, her multi-faceted career included films, television, exercise videocassettes, and writing.

Jane Fonda, her father Henry, and her brother Peter comprise the "Fantastic Fondas" of the theater. Jane was born in New York City on December 21, 1937, to Henry and Frances Seymour Brokaw Fonda. Born into wealth, her maternal lineage can be traced to the American Revolution leader Samuel Adams. She herself became something of a revolutionary.

When Fonda was 13 her mother committed suicide after learning of her husband's interest in a much younger woman, Susan Blanchard. Told that her mother died from a sudden heart attack, Fonda learned the truth a year later from a magazine story. Both she and Peter had difficulty coping, although Fonda believes Blanchard, whom her father married, did much to provide a stable home life for them. Fonda attended schools in New York and Vassar College, where she admittedly "went wild." Thereafter, she engaged in a whirlwind of studies in Paris and New York. Her first stage appearance was in 1954, but she did not seriously decide on an acting career until four years later while visiting her father, who lived next door to Lee Strasberg, director of the Actors Studio in Malibu, California. Friends urged her to go into the profession; Strasberg accepted her as his student, and she paid for her acting lessons with a brief but successful modeling career.

Fonda probably inherited some theatrical genius; certainly hers was a meteoric rise to stardom. A number of persons influenced her career, including her godfather, Joshua Logan, first husband, Roger Vadim, and director Sidney Pollock. She received many of the industry's highest awards, including two Academy Awards for Best Actress (Klute, 1971, and Coming Home, 1979). Both came before her famous father received one and after she was a controversial figure for her lifestyle, her rejection of many American traditional beliefs, and her outspoken anti-Vietnam War views.

Fonda became a heroine of the New Left for her activities in such causes as constitutional rights for American servicemen, Black Panthers, Native American rights, the Vietnam War, the anti-nuclear movement, and women's rights. Her life reflected the uncertainties, confusion, and rapidly changing values which began to rock America in the mid-1960s. To many she seemed mercurial, contradictory, and driven as the fighter for justice and peace. To others, she was naive, irritating, and an anti-American fool. Her causes were so numerous and undiscriminating that Saul Alinsky, fellow American radical, claimed that Fonda was "a hitchhiker on the highway of causes."

Fonda's first act of civil disobedience came in 1970 when she was arrested for illegally talking to soldiers against the military. Her radicalization was completed by what she saw and the people she met on a cross-country journey. Having left California as a left-wing liberal, she arrived in New York where she announced that she was a revolutionary woman, ready to support all struggles that were radical.

Fonda's support and fund-raising for the sometimes violent Black Panthers, including her relationship with Panther leader Huey Newton, led the FBI to place her under surveillance. Meanwhile, many differences with her father became public. As a life-long liberal, he sympathized with many of her views, but emphatically rejected her methods. Jane, in turn, rejected his idea that changes could be effected by electing the right officials into public office.

As her activities increased, government surveillance grew to at least six agencies at one time. Returning from Canada, she was infuriated when U.S. customs officials in Cleveland confiscated vials thought to be drugs. They proved to be vitamins and non-prescription food concentrates which she used to stabilize her weight.

Critics decried Fonda's exaggerations of American atrocities in Vietnam, which even supporters admitted were inflated. Many were astonished when she spoke as if she had visited Vietnam and witnessed the horrors she described. Ultimately, supporters arranged for her to go to Hanoi. When she publicly denounced American involvement there, she was labeled a "Communist" and "Hanoi Jane" by many back home. The State Department rebuked her, letters of protest filled newspapers, and at least one congressman demanded her arrest for treason. Yet Fonda seemed unperturbed by it all.

As the Vietnam War was ending, Fonda's radicalism diminished. Reconciliation with her father came in the early 1980s as they filmed On Golden Pond, a story which paralleled their own relationship in many ways. By the mid-1980s Fonda's popularity in films and television was such that to speak ill of her in Hollywood was to invite professional suicide. Her exercise salon, books, and videotapes became so popular that she may be remembered as much for them as for her films.

By 1985 she rarely spoke for radical causes. Rather, she seemed to have mellowed considerably. On a CBS Morning News television program she spoke of a new spiritual awareness during the filming of Agnes of God, and on CBS's America her comments and dress were quite subdued as she "plugged" her latest exercise videotape. She had moved from the radical to the respectable Jane Fonda.

Her personal life seemed stable as she and husband, former activist Tom Hayden, lived with her daughter Vanessa and their son Troy. Hayden sought a Senate seat from California in 1986, apparently both thinking that changes could be made by electing the "right" officials. Although her interests seemed to lie with her multi-faceted career and family, it seemed likely that Fonda could return to her former radical activism if she perceived that conditions demanded it.

In 1988 the "Hanoi Jane" issue raised its head again during filming of Stanley and Iris, which was being shot in a small Connecticut town. Old resentments among the towns-people about Fonda's role in Vietnam flared, leading her to issue her first public apology for her activities during the Vietnam War. She admitted that she'd been misinformed about aspects of the war, as well as some of her other causes at the time.

Fonda and Hayden were divorced in 1989. In 1991 she married media mogul Ted Turner, and settled into a much more domestic phase of her life. She announced that she was leaving her film career behind, and in 1996 confirmed that statement in a Good Housekeeping interview: "After a 35-year career as an actress, I am out of the business. That's a big change. Work, in many ways, defined me." Although she left behind her acting and producing career, Fonda was far from idle. In 1996 she published a cookbook, Jane Fonda: Cooking for Healthy Living. She also created a new series of workout tapes with the help of a physiologist called The Personal Trainer Series. Her goal with the new series was to design a program that anyone could stick with, stating in Good Housekeeping, "Anybody can do 25 minutes."

Further Reading

Although both are unauthorized biographies, Jane Fonda: The Actress in Her Time by Fred L. Guiles (1982) and Jane: An Intimate Biography of Jane Fonda (1973) by Thomas Kiernan provide interesting additional insights into the life of Jane Fonda and the sub-title of each accurately describes the contents. James Brough's The Fabulous Fondas (1973) gives considerable attention to Jane's life, but she shares space there with her father Henry and brother Peter. Also see Christopher Anderson's Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda (1990) and Good Housekeeping (February 1996, page 24) □

Fonda, Jane

views updated May 14 2018

Fonda, Jane (1937– ) US film actress, daughter of Henry Fonda. Following a lauded performance in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), Fonda won a Best Actress Academy Award for Klute (1971). A second award followed for Coming Home (1978). She starred opposite her father in On Golden Pond (1981). Her personal fitness programme, Jane Fonda's Workout Book (1981), was a worldwide bestseller.

Hanoi Jane

views updated Jun 11 2018

Hanoi Jane nickname given to the American actress Jane Fonda (1937– ), who campaigned against American involvement in the Vietnam War, and who in 1972 visited Hanoi to denounce the US bombing campaigns against North Vietnam.