political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru . She rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. She has won two Academy Awards and received several other awards and nominations. After 15 years of retirement, she returned to film in 2005 with Monster in Law followed by Georgia Rule two years later. She also produced and starred in several exercise videos released between 1982 and 1995.
Fonda has been an activist for many political causes, one of the most notable and controversial of which was her opposition to the Vietnam War. She has also protested the Iraq War and violence against women. She describes herself as a liberal and a feminist. In 2005, Fonda worked alongside Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem to co-found the Women's Media Center, an organization that works to amplify the voices of women in the media through advocacy, media and leadership trainining, and the creation of original content. Fonda currently serves on the board of the organization. Since 2001, Fonda has been a Christian. She published an autobiography in 2005.
BackgroundFonda was born in New York City, the daughter of actor Henry Fonda and socialite Frances Ford Seymour, and named Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda. Henry Fonda had distant Dutch ancestry, and the surname Fonda originates from Eagum, also spelled Augum or Agum, a village in the heart of Friesland, a northern province of the Netherlands. The "Lady" part of Jane Fonda's name was apparently inspired by Lady Jane Seymour, to whom she is distantly related on her mother's side. Her brother, Peter Fonda (born 1940), and her niece Bridget Fonda (born 1964), are also actors. Fonda had a half sister, Frances, who died in 2008. She is the mother of Vanessa Vadim from her marriage to Roger Vadim and Troy Garity from her marriage to Tom Hayden.
On April 14, 1950, her mother committed suicide after which Jane voluntarily sought treatment at a psychiatric hospital. Her father subsequently married Susan Blanchard, but this marriage ended in divorce. At 15, Fonda taught dance at Fire Island Pines, New York. She attended Greenwich Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Acting careerBefore starting her acting career, Fonda was a fashion model, gracing the cover of Vogue twice. 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. She attended The Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, where she was an undistinguished student.
She recalled that at the age of five, she and her brother, actor Peter Fonda, acted out Western stories similar to those her father, Henry Fonda, played in the movies. After graduating from Vassar she went to Paris for two years to study art. Upon returning, she met Lee Strasberg and the meeting changed the course of her life, Fonda saying, "I went to the Actor's 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! 1960s
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 her detractors—in the same year, the Harvard Lampoon named her the "Year's Worst Actress". Fonda's career breakthrough came with Cat Ballou (1965), in which she played a schoolmarm turned outlaw. This comedy Western received five Oscar nominations 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 stardom at the age of twenty-eight. After this came the comedies Any Wednesday (1966) and Barefoot in the Park (1967), the latter co-starring Robert Redford.
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.
1970sFonda 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 her second Oscar in 1978 for Coming Home, 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, even though she appeared in films such as 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 categorically 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." From her own point of view, her absence from the silver screen was related more to the fact that her political activism provided a new focus in her life. By the same token her return to acting with a series of 'issue-driven' films was a reflection of this new focus. "When I hear admonitions ... warning outspoken actors to remember 'what happened to Jane Fonda back in the seventies', this has me scratching my head: And what would that be...?"
In 1972, Fonda starred as a reporter alongside Yves Montand in Jean-Luc Godard's and Jean-Pierre Gorin's film Tout va bien. The film's 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. She also received positive reviews, BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress, and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of playwright Lillian Hellman in the 1977 film Julia. During this period, Fonda announced that she would make films only 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 followed with popular and successful films such as The China Syndrome (1979), about a cover-up of an accident in a nuclear power plant; and The Electric Horseman (1979) with her previous co-star, Robert Redford.
1980sIn 1980, Fonda starred in Nine to Five with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The film was a critical and box office success. 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 herself. 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 home bound. He died five months later.Fonda continued appearing in feature films throughout the 1980s, most notably in the role of Dr. Martha Livingston in Agnes of God. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of an alcoholic murder suspect in the 1986 thriller The Morning After. She ended the decade by appearing in Old Gringo. This was followed by the romantic drama Stanley & Iris (1990), which would be her final film for 15 years.
Exercise videosFor many years, Fonda was a ballet enthusiast, but after fracturing her foot while filming The China Syndrome she was no longer able to participate. To compensate, she began actively participating in aerobics and strengthening exercises under the direction of Leni Cazden. The Leni Workout became the Jane Fonda Workout and thus began a second career for her, which continued for many years. This was considered one of the influences that started the fitness craze among baby boomers who were 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. The Jane Fonda's Workout video eventually sold 17 million copies: more than any other home video. The video's release led many people to buy the then-new VCR in order to watch and perform the workout in the privacy and convenience of their own homes. Fonda subsequently released 23 workout videos, five workout books and thirteen audio programs. Her most recent workout video was released in 1995.
Exercise videos in chronological order:
- 1982: Jane Fonda's Workout (aka Workout Starring Jane Fonda)
- 1983: Jane Fonda's Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery Workout
- 1983: Jane Fonda's Workout Challenge
- 1984: Jane Fonda's Prime Time Workout (re-released as Jane Fonda's Easy Going Workout)
- 1985: Jane Fonda's New Workout
- 1986: Jane Fonda's Low Impact Aerobic Workout
- 1987: Jane Fonda's Start Up (aka Start Up with Jane Fonda)
- 1987: Jane Fonda's Sports Aid
- 1987: Jane Fonda's Workout with Weights (re-released as Jane Fonda's Toning and Shaping)
- 1988: Jane Fonda's Complete Workout
- 1989: Jane Fonda's Light Aerobics and Stress Reduction Program (re-released as Jane Fonda's Stress Reduction Program)
- 1990: Jane Fonda's Lean Routine Workout
- 1990: Jane Fonda's Workout Presents Fun House Fitness: The Swamp Stomp
- 1990: Jane Fonda's Workout Presents Fun House Fitness: The Fun House Funk
- 1991: Jane Fonda's Lower Body Solution
- 1992: Jane Fonda's Step Aerobic and Abdominal Workout
- 1993: Jane Fonda's Favorite Fat Burners
- 1993: Jane Fonda's Yoga Exercise Workout
- 1994: Jane Fonda's Step and Stretch Workout
- 1995: Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Low Impact Aerobics & Stretch
- 1995: Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Total Body Sculpting
- 1995: Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Abs, Buns & Thighs
Retirement and returnIn 1991, 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. In July 2005, the British tabloid The Sun reported that when asked if she would appear in a sequel to her 1980 hit Nine to Five, Fonda replied "I'd love to". Fonda appeared in the 2007 Garry Marshall-directed Georgia Rule, starring along with Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan.
In 2009, Fonda returned to theater with her first Broadway performance since the 1963 play, Strange Interlude, playing Katherine Brandt in Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations The role earned her a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play.She will star alongside Catherine Keener in the upcoming indie film, Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding. The film is expected to be released in 2011. She will also make a return to French cinema, shooting Et Si On Vivait Tous Ensemble mid-2010. Political activism
During the 1960s, Fonda engaged in political activism in support of the Civil Rights Movement and in opposition to the Vietnam War.Along with other celebrities, she supported the Alcatraz Island occupation in 1969, which was intended to call attention to Native American issues.She likewise supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s, 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", and said "we must support them with love, money, propaganda and risk."Fonda has also been involved in the feminist movement since the 1970s, which dovetails with her activism in support of civil rights.
Opposition to Vietnam WarIn April 1970, Fred Gardner, Fonda 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, referred to 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.) that contained strong, frank criticism of the war by service men and women. It was released in 1972.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. In a 1970 address at Michigan State University Fonda gave a speech saying; "I would think that if you understood what Communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees, that we would someday become communists."
Hanoi in July 1972. Among other statements, she repeated the North Vietnamese claim that the United States had been deliberately targeting the dike system along the Red River stating that “I believe in my heart, profoundly, that the dikes are being bombed on purpose”. Columnist Joseph Kraft, who was also touring North Vietnam, believed that 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."In North Vietnam, Fonda was photographed seated on an anti-aircraft battery.In her 2005 autobiography, she writes that she was manipulated into sitting on the battery. Later she claimed to have been horrified at the implications of the pictures and stated that she regretted the pictures. During her trip, Fonda also made ten propagandistic radio broadcasts in which she denounced American political and military leaders as "war criminals". Fonda has defended her decision to travel to North Vietnam and has defended her radio broadcasts.During this visit, she also visited American prisoners of war (POWs), and brought back messages from them to their families. When cases of torture began to emerge among POWs returning to the United States, Fonda called the returning POWs "hypocrites and liars." She added, "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." On the subject of torture in general, Fonda told The New York Times in 1973, "I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture... but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie." Fonda further stated that the POWs were "military careerists and professional killers" who are "trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to the law."The POW camp visits also led to persistent stories—decades later circulated widely on the Internet and via email—that the POWs she met had spat on her, or attempted to sneak notes to her which she had then reported to the North Vietnamese, leading to further abuse. However, interviews with two of the alleged victims specifically named in the emails, found these allegations to be false as they had never met Fonda.In 1972, Fonda helped fund and organize the Indochina Peace Campaign. It continued to mobilize antiwar activists across the nation after the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement, through 1975, when the United States withdrew from Vietnam.Following the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975, Fonda continued to express support for the Communist government. For example, she sharply denounced Joan Baez, who had pointed out human rights violations in the new Vietnam, which Fonda continued to deny. She also named her son Troi - in honour of Nguyen Van Troi, who had attempted to assassinate Defence Secretary Robert McNamara.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..."However, critics pointed out 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 partially 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."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 present at their 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.Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; the goal of the center is to prevent adolescent pregnancy through training and program development.On February 16, 2004, Fonda led a march through Ciudad Juárez, 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.Fonda strongly feels that many gender stereotypes are damaging to individuals of both genders and thus, in 2004, she served as a mentor to the first ever all-transsexual cast of The Vagina Monologues.In the days before the Swedish election on September 17, 2006, Fonda went to Sweden to support the new political party Feministiskt initiativ in their election campaign.In My Life So Far, Fonda says 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". She states 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.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. Fonda went to help the endeavor because she felt "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 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 a Palestinian refugee camp.Fonda was criticized by right-wing Israelis, and was heckled by members of Women for Israel's Tomorrow as she arrived for a meeting with leading Israeli feminists.In September 2009, Fonda was one of over fifty signatories to a letter protesting the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival's presentation of ten films about the Israeli city 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 [the protesters] are reading from might as well have been written by Hamas."Fonda, in a posting on The Huffington Post, said that 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[s] 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".See also: Opposition to the Iraq War
Fonda has argued that the military campaign in Iraq will turn people all over the world against America, and has asserted that a global hatred of America will result in more terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the war. In July 2005, Fonda said that some of the war veterans she had met while on her book tour had urged her to speak out against the Iraq War.In September 2005, Fonda and George Galloway postponed their anti-war bus tour due to the relief operations in the Gulf Coast, which had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina Fonda then planned to take a bus tour in March 2006 with her daughter and several families of military veterans but later scrapped her plans, mostly because she felt like she would distract attention from Cindy Sheehan's activism.On January 27, 2007, Fonda participated in an anti-war rally held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., declaring that "silence is no longer an option." Members of the conservative organization Free Republic staged a counter-protest.In the 2004 presidential election, her name was used as a disparaging epithet against John Kerry, the former VVAW leader, who was then the Democratic Party presidential candidate. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie called Kerry a "Jane Fonda Democrat". In addition, Kerry's opponents circulated a photograph showing Fonda and Kerry in the same large crowd at a 1970 anti-war rally, although they were sitting several rows apart. A faked composite photograph, which gave the false impression that the two had shared a speaker's platform, was also circulatedIn 2001, Fonda publicly announced that she had become a Christian. She stated that she strongly opposed bigotry, discrimination and dogma, which she believes are promoted by a small minority of Christians. Her announcement came shortly after her divorce from Ted Turner. Fonda stated publicly on Charlie Rose in April 2006 that her Christianity may have played a part in the divorce, as Turner was known to be critical of religion.Fonda has in the past practiced Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and more recently has engaged in mediation at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center.
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, due in part to 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 "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, ranging with posts on her Pilates class, to her fears and excitement of her new play. Fonda said on The View to not have a ghost writer, just like her autobiography. She also uses Twitter and has a Facebook page.In 1994, the United Nations Population Fund made Fonda a Goodwill Ambassador.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 was given the New York Women's Agenda Lifetime Achievement Award.