Jane Fonda (born Jayne Seymour Fonda; December 21, 1937) is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model and fitness guru. She is a two-time Academy Award winner and two time BAFTA Award winner. In 2014, she was the recipient of the American Film Institute AFI Life Achievement Award.
Fonda made her Broadway debut in the 1960 play There Was a Little Girl, for which she received the first of two Tony Award nominations, and made her screen debut later the same year in Tall Story. She rose to fame in 1960s films such as Period of Adjustment (1962), Sunday in New York (1963), Cat Ballou (1965), Barefoot in the Park (1967) and Barbarella (1968). Her first husband was Barbarella director Roger Vadim. A seven-time Academy Award nominee, she received her first nomination for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (1969) and went on to win two Best Actress Oscars in the 1970s for Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978). Her other nominations were for Julia (1977), The China Syndrome (1979), On Golden Pond (1981) and The Morning After (1986). Her other major competitive awards include an Emmy Award for the 1984 TV film The Dollmaker, two BAFTA Awards for Julia and The China Syndrome and four Golden Globe Awards.
In 1982, she released her first exercise video, Jane Fonda’s Workout, which became the highest-selling video of the time. It would be the first of 22 workout videos released by her over the next 13 years which would collectively sell over 17 million copies. Divorced from second husband Tom Hayden, she married billionaire media mogul Ted Turner in 1991 and retired from acting. Fonda was divorced from Turner in 2001. She returned to acting with her first film in 15 years, the 2005 comedy Monster in Law. Subsequent films have included Georgia Rule (2007), The Butler (2013), This Is Where I Leave You (2014) and Youth (2015). In 2009, she returned to Broadway after a 45-year absence, in the play 33 Variations, which earned her a Tony Award nomination, while her recurring role in the HBO drama series The Newsroom (20122014), has earned her two Emmy Award nominations. She also released another five exercise videos between 2010 and 2012. She stars with Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen in the Netflix original series Grace and Frankie, which premiered in 2015.
Fonda was a visible political activist in the counterculture era during the Vietnam War and later became involved in advocacy for women. She was famously and controversially photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft gun on a 1972 visit to Hanoi. She has also protested the Iraq War and violence against women, and describes herself as a feminist. In 2005, she, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem co-founded the Women’s Media Center, an organization that works to amplify the voices of women in the media through advocacy, media and leadership training, and the creation of original content. Fonda serves on the board of the organization.
Jayne Seymour Fonda was born in New York City on December 21, 1937. Her parents were Canadian-born socialite Frances Ford Brokaw (ne Seymour; 19081950), and actor Henry Fonda (19051982). According to her father, their surname came from an Italian ancestor who immigrated to the Netherlands in the 1500s. There, he intermarried, and the family began to use Dutch given names, with Jane’s first Fonda ancestor reaching New York in 1650. She also has English, Scottish, and French ancestry. She was named after the third wife of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, to whom she is distantly related on her mother’s side. She has a brother, Peter, who is also an actor, and a maternal half-sister, Frances de Villers Brokaw (aka “Pan”), whose daughter is Pilar Corrias, the owner of the Pilar Corrias Gallery in London.
In 1950, when Fonda was twelve, her mother committed suicide while undergoing treatment at Craig House psychiatric hospital in Beacon, New York. Later that year, Fonda’s father married socialite Susan Blanchard (born 1928), just nine years his daughter’s senior; this marriage ended in divorce. At 15 Fonda taught dance at Fire Island Pines, New York. She attended Greenwich Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Fonda attended the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, where she was an undistinguished student. Before starting her acting career, Fonda was a model, appearing twice on the cover of Vogue.
Fonda became interested in acting in 1954, while appearing with her father in a charity performance of The Country Girl, at the Omaha Community Playhouse. After dropping out of Vassar, she went to Paris for two years to study art. Upon returning to the states, in 1958, she met Lee Strasberg and the meeting changed the course of her life, Fonda saying, “I went to the Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg told me I had talent. Real talent. It was the first time that anyone, except my father who had to say so told me I was good. At anything. It was a turning point in my life. I went to bed thinking about acting. I woke up thinking about acting. It was like the roof had come off my life!”
Rise To prominence (19601969)
Her stage work in the late 1950s laid the foundation for her film career in the 1960s. She averaged almost two movies a year throughout the decade, starting in 1960 with Tall Story, in which she recreated one of her Broadway roles as a college cheerleader pursuing a basketball star, played by Anthony Perkins. Period of Adjustment and Walk on the Wild Side followed in 1962. In Walk on the Wild Side, Fonda played a prostitute and earned a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer.
In 1963, she appeared in Sunday in New York. Newsday called her “the loveliest and most gifted of all our new young actresses”. However, she also had detractors in the same year, the Harvard Lampoon named her the “Year’s Worst Actress” for The Chapman Report. Fonda’s career breakthrough came with Cat Ballou (1965), in which she played a schoolmarm turned outlaw. This comedy Western received five Oscar nominations, with Lee Marvin winning best actor, and was one of the year’s top ten films at the box office. It was considered by many to have been the film that brought Fonda to bankable stardom. After this came the comedies Any Wednesday (1966), opposite Jason Robards and Dean Jones, and Barefoot in the Park (1967), co-starring Robert Redford.
In 1968, she played the title role in the science fiction spoof Barbarella, which established her status as a sex symbol. In contrast, the tragedy They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) won her critical acclaim, and she earned her first Oscar nomination for the role. Fonda was very selective by the end of the 1960s, turning down lead roles in Rosemary’s Baby and Bonnie and Clyde, which went to Mia Farrow and Faye Dunaway, respectively.
Established Actress (19701979)
Fonda won her first Academy Award for Best Actress in 1971, again playing a prostitute, the gamine Bree Daniels, in the murder mystery Klute. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Klute and another in 1978 for Coming Home as well as another Academy Award for Best Actress in 1978, for the story of a disabled Vietnam War veteran’s difficulty in re-entering civilian life.
Between Klute in 1971 and Fun With Dick and Jane in 1977, Fonda did not have a major film success. She appeared in A Doll’s House (1973), Steelyard Blues and The Blue Bird (1976). From comments ascribed to her in interviews, some have inferred that she personally blamed the situation on anger at her outspoken political views: “I can’t say I was blacklisted, but I was greylisted.” However, in her 2005 autobiography, My Life So Far, she rejected such simplification. “The suggestion is that because of my actions against the war my career had been destroyed … But the truth is that my career, far from being destroyed after the war, flourished with a vigor it had not previously enjoyed.” She reduced acting because of her political activism providing a new focus in her life. Her return to acting in a series of ‘issue-driven’ films reflected this new focus.
In 1972, Fonda starred as a reporter alongside Yves Montand in Tout Va Bien, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. The two directors then made Letter to Jane, in which the two spent nearly an hour discussing a news photograph of Fonda.
Through her production company, IPC Films, she produced films that helped return her to star status. The 1977 comedy film Fun With Dick and Jane is generally considered her “comeback” picture. Also in 1977, she portrayed the playwright Lillian Hellman in Julia, receiving positive reviews, BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress, and an Oscar nomination. During this period, Fonda announced that she would make only films that focused on important issues, and she generally stuck to her word. She turned down An Unmarried Woman because she felt the part was not relevant. She won another BAFTA Award for Best Actress in 1979 with The China Syndrome, about a cover-up of a vulnerability in a nuclear power plant. The same year, she starred in The Electric Horseman with her previous co-star, Robert Redford.
Critically Acclaimed Performances (19801990)
In 1980, Fonda starred in 9 to 5 with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The film was a huge critical and box office success, becoming the second highest-grossing release of the year. Fonda had long wanted to work with her father, hoping it would help their strained relationship. She achieved this goal when she purchased the screen rights to the play On Golden Pond, specifically for her father and her.On Golden Pond, which also starred Katharine Hepburn, brought Henry Fonda his only Academy Award for Best Actor, which Jane accepted on his behalf, as he was ill and could not leave home. He died five months later.
Fonda continued to appear in feature films throughout the 1980s, winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress (1984) for The Dollmaker, and starring in the role of Dr. Martha Livingston in Agnes of God (1985). She was nominated for yet another Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of an alcoholic murder suspect in the thriller The Morning After, opposite Jeff Bridges. She ended the decade by appearing in Old Gringo. This was followed by the romantic drama Stanley & Iris (1990) with Robert De Niro, which was her final film for 15 years.
For many years Fonda took ballet class to keep fit, but after fracturing her foot while filming The China Syndrome, she was no longer able to participate. To compensate, she began participating in aerobics and strengthening exercises under the direction of Leni Cazden. The Leni Workout became the Jane Fonda Workout, which began a second career for her, continuing for many years. This was considered one of the influences that started the fitness craze among baby boomers, then approaching middle age. In 1982, Fonda released her first exercise video, titled Jane Fonda’s Workout, inspired by her best-selling book, Jane Fonda’s Workout Book. Jane Fonda’s Workout became the highest selling home video of the next few years, selling over a million copies. The video’s release led many people to buy the then-new VCR in order to watch and perform the workout at home. The exercise videos were produced and directed by Sidney Galanty, who helped to put the deal together with video distributor Stuart Karl, of Karl Home Video. Galanty produced the first video and 11 more after that. She would subsequently release 23 workout videos with the series selling a total of 17 million copies combined, more than any other exercise series. She released five workout books and thirteen audio programs, through 1995. After a fifteen-year hiatus, she released two new fitness videos on DVD in 2010, aiming at an older audience.
Retirement and return
In the early 1990s, after three decades in film, Fonda announced her retirement from the film industry. In May 2005, she returned to the screen with the box office success Monster-in-Law, starring opposite Jennifer Lopez. Two years later, Fonda starred in the Garry Marshall-directed drama Georgia Rule alongside Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan.
In 2009, Fonda returned to Broadway for the first time since 1963, playing Katherine Brandt in Moiss Kaufman‘s 33 Variations. The role earned her a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play.
Work after retirement (2010present)
Fonda filmed her second movie in French when she had a leading role in the 2011 drama All Together. The same year she starred alongside Catherine Keener in Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, playing a hippy grandmother. In 2012, Fonda began a recurring role as Leona Lansing, CEO of a major media company, in HBO’s original political drama The Newsroom. Her role continued throughout the show’s three seasons, and Fonda received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
In 2013, Fonda had a small role in The Butler, portraying First Lady Nancy Reagan. She had more film work the following year, appearing in the comedies Better Living Through Chemistry and This is Where I Leave You. She also voiced a character on The Simpsons. She played an acting diva in Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth in 2015, for which she earned a Golden Globe Award nomination. Her upcoming film roles include Fathers and Daughters with Russell Crowe.
Fonda appears as the co-lead in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie. She and Lily Tomlin play aging women whose husbands reveal they are in love. Filming on the first season was completed in November 2014, and the show premiered online on May 8, 2015. In 2016 Fonda voiced Shuriki in Elena and the Secret of Avalor.
In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Fonda and others told the stories of the people killed there.
During the 1960s, Fonda engaged in political activism in support of the Civil Rights Movement, and in opposition to the Vietnam War. Fonda’s visits to France brought her into contact with leftist French intellectuals who were opposed to war, an experience that she later characterized as “small-c communism”. Along with other celebrities, she supported the Alcatraz Island occupation by American Indians in 1969, which was intended to call attention to the failures of the government with regards to treaty rights and the movement for greater Indian sovereignty.
She supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s, stating: “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.” She has been involved in the feminist movement since the 1970s and dovetails her activism in support of civil rights.
Opposition to the Vietnam War
In April 1970, Fonda, with Fred Gardner and Donald Sutherland formed the FTA tour (“Free The Army”, a play on the troop expression “Fuck The Army”), an anti-war road show designed as an answer to Bob Hope‘s USO tour. The tour, described as “political vaudeville” by Fonda, visited military towns along the West Coast, with the goal of establishing a dialogue with soldiers about their upcoming deployments to Vietnam. The dialogue was made into a movie (F.T.A.) which contained strong, frank criticism of the war by servicemen and servicewomen; it was released in 1972.
On May 4, 1970, Fonda appeared before an assembly at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, to speak on GI rights and issues. The end of her presentation was met with a discomforting silence. The quiet was broken when Beat poet Gregory Corso staggered onto the stage. Drunk, Corso challenged Fonda, using a four-letter expletive: Why hadn’t she addressed the shooting of four students at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard, which had just taken place? Fonda in her autobiography revisited the incident: “I was shocked by the news and felt like a fool.” On the same day, she joined a protest march on the home of university president, Ferrel Heady. The protestors called themselves “They Shoot Students, Don’t They?” a reference to Fonda’s recently released film, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, which had just been screened in Albuquerque.
In the same year, Fonda spoke out against the war at a rally organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She offered to help raise funds for VVAW and, for her efforts, was rewarded with the title of Honorary National Coordinator. On November 3, 1970, Fonda started a tour of college campuses on which she raised funds for the organization. As noted by The New York Times, Fonda was a “major patron” of the VVAW.
Controversial visit to Hanoi
Between 1965 and 1972, almost 300 Americans mostly civil rights activists, teachers and pastors traveled to North Vietnam to see firsthand the war situation with the Vietnamese. News media in the United States would only provide the official view from Washington, and American travelers to Vietnam were routinely harassed upon their return to the States. Fonda also visited Vietnam, traveling to Hanoi in July 1972 to witness firsthand the bombing damage to the dikes. After touring and photographing dike systems in North Vietnam, she said the United States had been intentionally targeting the dike system along the Red River. Columnist Joseph Kraft, who was also touring North Vietnam, said he believed the damage to the dikes was incidental and was being used as propaganda by Hanoi, and that, if the U.S. Air Force were “truly going after the dikes, it would do so in a methodical, not a harum-scarum way”. Sweden’s ambassador to Vietnam, however, observed the bomb damage to the dikes and described it as “methodic”. Other journalists reported that the attacks were “aimed at the whole system of dikes”.
Fonda was photographed seated on an anti-aircraft gun; the controversial photo outraged a number of Americans, and earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane”. In her 2005 autobiography, she wrote that she was manipulated into sitting on the battery; she had been horrified at the implications of the pictures and regretted taking them. In a 2011 entry at her official website, Fonda explained:
It happened on my last day in Hanoi. I was exhausted and an emotional wreck after the 2-week visit … The translator told me that the soldiers wanted to sing me a song. He translated as they sung. It was a song about the day ‘Uncle Ho’ declared their country’s independence in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. I heard these words: ‘All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, Liberty and Happiness.’ These are the words Ho pronounced at the historic ceremony. I began to cry and clap. ‘These young men should not be our enemy. They celebrate the same words Americans do.’ The soldiers asked me to sing for them in return … I memorized a song called ‘Day Ma Di’, written by anti-war South Vietnamese students. I knew I was slaughtering it, but everyone seemed delighted that I was making the attempt. I finished. Everyone was laughing and clapping, including me … Here is my best, honest recollection of what happened: someone (I don’t remember who) led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding. It all had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed … It is possible that it was a set up, that the Vietnamese had it all planned. I will never know. But if they did I can’t blame them. The buck stops here. If I was used, I allowed it to happen … a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever … But the photo exists, delivering its message regardless of what I was doing or feeling. I carry this heavy in my heart. I have apologized numerous times for any pain I may have caused servicemen and their families because of this photograph. It was never my intention to cause harm.
Fonda made radio broadcasts on Hanoi Radio throughout her two-week tour, commenting on her visits to villages, hospitals, schools, and factories damaged in the war and denouncing U.S. military policy in Vietnam. Fonda has defended her decision to travel to North Vietnam, and her radio broadcasts. During the course of her visit, Fonda visited American prisoners of war (POWs), and brought back messages from them to their families. When stories of torture of returning POWs were later being publicized by the Nixon administration, Fonda called the returning POWs “hypocrites and liars and pawns”, adding about the prisoners she visited, “These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed.” In addition, 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 visits to the POW camp led to persistent and exaggerated rumors which were repeated widely in the press and continued to circulate on the Internet decades later. Fonda, as well as the named POWs, have personally denied the rumors, and subsequent interviews with the POWs showed these rumored allegations to be false as the persons named had never met Fonda.
In 1972, Fonda helped fund and organize the Indochina Peace Campaign, which continued to mobilize antiwar activists across the nation after the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement, through 1975, when the United States withdrew from Vietnam.
Because of her tour of North Vietnam during wartime and the subsequent rumors circulated about her visit, resentment against her among some veterans and currently serving U.S. military still exists. For example, when U.S. Naval Academy plebes, who had not yet been born when Fonda protested against the Vietnam war, shouted out “Goodnight, Jane Fonda!”, the company replied “Goodnight, bitch!” This practice has since been prohibited by the academy’s Plebe Summer Standard Operating Procedures. In 2005, Michael A. Smith, a U.S. Navy veteran, was arrested for disorderly conduct in Kansas City, Missouri, after he spat chewing tobacco in Fonda’s face during a book-signing event for her autobiography, My Life So Far. He told reporters that he “consider it a debt of honor”, adding “she spit in our faces for 37 years. It was absolutely worth it. There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did.” Fonda refused to press charges.
In a 1988 interview with Barbara Walters, Fonda expressed regret for some of her comments and actions, 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. 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.
Some critics responded that her apology came at a time when a group of New England Veterans had launched a campaign to disrupt a film project she was working on, leading to the charge that her apology was motivated at least partly by self-interest.
In a 60 Minutes interview on March 31, 2005, Fonda reiterated that she had no regrets about her trip to North Vietnam in 1972, with the exception of the anti-aircraft-gun photo. She stated that the incident was a “betrayal” of American forces and of the “country that gave me privilege”. Fonda said, “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.” She later distinguished between regret over the use of her image as propaganda and pride for her anti-war activism: “There are hundreds of American delegations that had met with the POWs. Both sides were using the POWs for propaganda … It’s not something that I will apologize for.” Fonda said she had no regrets about 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.”
Subject of government surveillance
In 2013, it was revealed that Fonda was one of approximately 1,600 Americans whose communications between 1967 and 1973 were monitored by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) as part of Project Minaret, a program that some NSA officials have described as “disreputable if not downright illegal”. Fonda’s communications, as well as those of her husband, Tom Hayden, were intercepted by Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Under the UKUSA Agreement, intercepted data on Americans were sent to the U.S. government.
In early March 2017, in an interview with Brie Larson, published by People magazine, Fonda stated, “One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realise that (rape and abuse is) not our fault. We were violated and it’s not right.” She said, “Ive been raped, Ive been sexually abused as a child and Ive been fired because I wouldnt sleep with my boss.” She said, “I always thought it was my fault; that I didnt do or say the right thing. I know young girls whove been raped and didnt even know it was rape. They think, It must have been because I said no the wrong way.”
Through her work, Fonda said she wants to help abuse victims “realize that is not our fault”. Fonda said that her difficult past led her to become such a passionate activist for womens rights. The actress is an active supporter of the V-Day movement, which works to stop violence against women and girls. In 2001, she established the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health, which aims to help prevent teen pregnancy. She was a victim of the “disease to please” in her early life, which plagued many American females of her generation. Fonda revealed in 2014 that her mother, Frances Ford Seymour, was recurrently sexually abused as young as eight, and this may have led to her suicide when Jane was 12.
Fonda has been a longtime supporter of feminist causes, including V-Day, a movement to stop violence against women, inspired by the off-Broadway hit The Vagina Monologues, of which she is an honorary chairperson. She was at the first summit in 2002, bringing together founder Eve Ensler, Afghan women oppressed by the Taliban, and a Kenyan activist campaigning to save girls from genital mutilation.
In 2001, she established the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia to help prevent adolescent pregnancy through training and program development.
On February 16, 2004, Fonda led a march through Ciudad Jurez, with Sally Field, Eve Ensler and other women, urging Mexico to provide sufficient resources to newly appointed officials helping investigate the murders of hundreds of women in the rough border city. That same year, she served as a mentor to the first all-transsexual cast of The Vagina Monologues.
In My Life So Far, Fonda stated that she considers patriarchy to be harmful to men as well as women. She also states that for many years, she feared to call herself a feminist, because she believed that all feminists were “anti-male”. But now, with her increased understanding of patriarchy, she feels that feminism is beneficial to both men and women, and states that she “still loves men”, adding that when she divorced Ted Turner, she felt like she had also divorced the world of patriarchy, and was very happy to have done so.
In April 2016, Fonda said that while she was ‘glad’ that Bernie Sanders was running, she predicted Hillary Clinton would become the first female president whose win she believed would result in “violent backlash”. She went on to say that we need to “help men understand why they are so threatened and change the way we view masculinity.”
Fonda went to Seattle, Washington, in 1970 to support a group of Native Americans who were led by Bernie Whitebear. The group had occupied part of the grounds of Fort Lawton, which was in the process of being surplussed by the United States Army and turned into a park. The group was attempting to secure a land base where they could establish services for the sizable local urban Indian population, protesting that “Indians had a right to part of the land that was originally all theirs.” The endeavor succeeded and the Daybreak Star Cultural Center was constructed in the city’s Discovery Park.
In addition to environmental reasons, Fonda has been an critic of oil pipelines because of their being built without consent on Native American Land. In 2017, Fonda responded to American President Donald Trump’s mandate to resume construction of the controversial North Dakota Pipelines by saying that Trump “does this illegally because he has not gotten consent from the tribes through whose countries this goes” and pointing out that “the U.S. has agreed to treaties that require them to get the consent of the people who are affected, the indigenous people who live there.”
In December 2002, Fonda visited Israel and the West Bank as part of a tour focusing on stopping violence against women. She demonstrated with Women in Black against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip outside the residence of Israel’s Prime Minister. She later visited Jewish and Arab doctors, and patients at a Jerusalem hospital, followed by visits to Ramallah to see a physical rehabilitation center and Palestinian refugee camp. She was heckled by three members of Women in Green as she arrived to meet with leading Israeli feminists.
In September 2009, she was one of more than 1,500 signatories to a letter protesting the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival‘s spotlight on Tel Aviv. The protest letter said that the spotlight on Tel Aviv was part of “the Israeli propaganda machine” because it was supported in part by funding from the Israeli government and had been described by the Israeli Consul General Amir Gissin as being part of a Brand Israel campaign intended to draw attention away from Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Other signers included actor Danny Glover, musician David Byrne, journalist John Pilger, and authors Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, and Howard Zinn.
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center stated that “People who support letters like this are people who do not support a two-state solution. By calling into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv, they are supporting a one-state solution, which means the destruction of the State of Israel.” Hier continued, saying that “it is clear that the script are reading from might as well have been written by Hamas.”
Fonda, in The Huffington Post, said she regretted some of the language used in the original protest letter and how it “was perhaps too easily misunderstood. It certainly has been wildly distorted. Contrary to the lies that have been circulated, the protest letter was not demonizing Israeli films and filmmakers.” She continued, writing “the greatest ‘re-branding’ of Israel would be to celebrate that country’s long standing, courageous and robust peace movement by helping to end the blockade of Gaza through negotiations with all parties to the conflict, and by stopping the expansion of West Bank settlements. That’s the way to show Israel’s commitment to peace, not a PR campaign. There will be no two-state solution unless this happens.” Fonda emphasized that she, “in no way, support the destruction of Israel. I am for the two-state solution. I have been to Israel many times and love the country and its people.” Several prominent Atlanta Jews subsequently signed a letter to The Huffington Post rejecting the vilification of Fonda, who they described as “a strong supporter and friend of Israel”.
Opposition to the Iraq War
Fonda argued that the military campaign in Iraq will turn people all over the world against America, and asserted that a global hatred of America would result in more terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the war. In July 2005, Fonda announced plans to make an anti-war bus tour in March 2006 with her daughter and several families of military veterans, saying that some war veterans she had met while on her book tour had urged her to speak out against the Iraq War. She later canceled the tour due to concerns that she would divert attention from Cindy Sheehan‘s activism.
In September 2005, Fonda was scheduled to join British politician and anti-war activist George Galloway at two stops on his U.S. book tour, Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago. She canceled her appearances at the last minute, citing instructions from her doctors to avoid travel following recent hip surgery.
On January 27, 2007, Fonda participated in an anti-war rally and march held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., declaring that “silence is no longer an option”. Fonda spoke at an anti-war rally earlier in the day at the Navy Memorial, where members of the organization Free Republic picketed in a counter protest.
Fonda and Kerry
In the 2004 presidential election, her name was used as a disparaging epithet against John Kerry, a former VVAW leader, who was then the Democratic Party presidential candidate. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie called Kerry a “Jane Fonda Democrat”. Kerry’s opponents also circulated a photograph showing Fonda and Kerry in the same large crowd at a 1970 anti-war rally, though they sat several rows apart. A faked composite photograph, which gave a false impression that the two had shared a speaker’s platform, was also circulated.
In 2015, Fonda expressed disapproval of President Barack Obama’s permitting of Arctic drilling (Petroleum exploration in the Arctic) at the Sundance Film Festival. In July, she marched in a Toronto protest called the “March for Jobs, Justice, and Climate,” which was organized by dozens of nonprofits, labor unions, and environmental activists, including Canadian author Naomi Klein. The march aimed to show businesses and politicians alike that climate change is inherently linked to issues that may seem unrelated.
In addition to issues of Civil Rights, Fonda has been an opponent of oil developments and their adverse effects on the environment. In 2017, while on a trip with Greenpeace to protest oil developments, Fonda criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying at the summit on climate change in Paris, known as the Paris agreement, Trudeau “talked so beautifully of needing to meet the requirements of the climate treaty and to respect and hold to the treaties with indigenous people…and yet he has betrayed every one of the things he committed to in Paris.”
On April 5, 2005, Random House released Fonda’s autobiography My Life So Far. The book describes her life as a series of three acts, each thirty years long, and declares that her third “act” will be her most significant, partly because of her commitment to the Christian religion, and that it will determine the things for which she will be remembered.
Fonda’s autobiography was well received by book critics, and was noted to be “as beguiling and as maddening as Jane Fonda herself” in its Washington Post review, pronouncing her a “beautiful bundle of contradictions”.The New York Times called the book “achingly poignant”.
In January 2009, Fonda started chronicling her Broadway return in a blog, with posts about topics ranging from her Pilates class to her fears and excitement about her new play. She uses Twitter and has a Facebook page. In 2011, Fonda published a new book: Prime Time: Love, health, sex, fitness, friendship, spirit making the most of all of your life. The book offers stories from her own life as well as from the lives of others, giving her perspective on how to better live what she calls “the critical years from 45 and 50, and especially from 60 and beyond”.
Fonda’s charitable works have focused on youth and education, adolescent reproductive health, environment, human services, and the arts.
Fonda has established the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential (GCAPP) in the mid 1990s and the Fonda Family Foundation in the late 1990s. In the mid 2000s, Fonda founded the Jane Fonda Foundation in 2004 with one million dollars of her own money as a charitable corporation with herself as president, chair, director and secretary; Fonda contributes 10 hours each week on its behalf.
Jane Fonda has been married three times.
Fonda married her first husband, French film director Roger Vadim, on August 14, 1965, at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. The couple had a daughter, Vanessa, born on September 28, 1968, in Paris, France, and named after the actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave.
On January 19, 1973, three days after obtaining a divorce from Vadim in Santo Domingo, Fonda married activist Tom Hayden in a free-form ceremony at her home in Laurel Canyon. Their son, Troy O’Donovan Garity, was born on July 7, 1973 in Los Angeles and was given his paternal grandmother’s maiden name, as the names “Fonda and Hayden carried too much baggage”. Fonda and Hayden wanted to give their son a name that “was both American and Vietnamese” and chose “Troy”, an Anglicization of the Vietnamese “Troi”, as the only name they could think of meeting that requirement. Hayden chose O’Donovan as the middle name after Irish revolutionary Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. In 1982, Fonda and Hayden unofficially adopted an African-American teenager, Mary Luana Williams (known as Lulu), who was the daughter of members of the Black Panthers. Fonda and Hayden divorced on June 10, 1990 in Santa Monica.
She married her third husband, cable-television tycoon and CNN founder Ted Turner, on December 21, 1991, at a ranch near Capps, Florida, about 20 miles east of Tallahassee. The pair divorced on May 22, 2001 in Atlanta, Georgia.
From 2009 until 2017, Fonda was in a relationship with record producer Richard Perry.
Fonda grew up atheist but turned to Christianity in early 2000s. She describes her beliefs as being “outside of established religion” with a more feminist slant, and views God as something that “lives within each of us as Spirit (or soul).” She practices Zazen meditation and Yoga.
As a child, Fonda suffered from a poor self-image and lack of confidence in her appearance, an issue exacerbated by her father Henry Fonda. On the subject, Fonda said “I was raised in the 50s. I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered, frankly. He was a good man, and I was mad for him, but he sent messages to me that fathers should not send: Unless you look perfect, you’re not going to be loved.” In adulthood, Fonda developed bulimia which took a toll on her quality of life for many years, an issue that also affected her mother Frances Ford Seymour who committed suicide when Fonda was 12. On the subject of her recovery from bulimia, Fonda said, “It was in my 40s, and if you suffer from bulimia, the older you get, the worse it gets. It takes longer to recover from a bout…I had a career, I was winning awards, I was supporting nonprofits, I had a family. I had to make a choice: I live or I die.”
In 1994, the United Nations Population Fund made Fonda a Goodwill Ambassador. In 2004, she was awarded the Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century award as one of Seven Who Change Their Worlds. In 2007, Fonda was awarded an Honorary Palme d’Or by Cannes Film Festival President Gilles Jacob for career achievement. Only three others had received such an award Jeanne Moreau, Alain Resnais, and Gerard Oury.
In December 2008, Fonda was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. In December 2009, Fonda received the New York Women’s Agenda Lifetime Achievement Award. In November 2009, she received the National German Sustainability Award. She was also selected as the 42nd recipient (2014) of the AFI Life Achievement Award. In 2017, she received a Goldene Kamera lifetime achievement award.
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