Jane Fonda Biography

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Jane Fonda Biography

Actress. Born Jane Seymour Fonda, on December 21, 1937, in New York City. She is the daughter of legendary actor Henry Fonda and the sister of actor Peter Fonda. The Oscar-winning actress is as noteworthy for her remarkably diverse film career as for her exercise franchise and political activism. Jane’s socialite mother, Frances Seymour Brokaw (Henry Fonda’s second of five wives), committed suicide in October 1950, when Jane was 12 years old. Henry married actress Susan Blanchard eight months later, and throughout their six-year marriage, Blanchard helped to raise Jane and her brother. With her father, Jane made her acting debut in a 1954 stage production of The Country Girl. She attended Vassar College for two years until 1958, when her father introduced her to his neighbor, renowned acting coach Lee Strasberg. Jane became Strasberg’s student at the Actors Studio in Malibu, California, and she paid for her acting lessons through modeling. Fonda made her screen debut in Tall Story (1960), opposite Anthony Perkins. In 1962, she appeared in several films, including Walk on the Wild Side (1962), also featuring Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Baxter. Soon after, Fonda met and fell in love with French director Roger Vadim, who cast her in Circle of Love (1964). Vadim and Fonda were married in 1965, the same year she appeared in the title role of the Western comedy Cat Ballou, opposite Lee Marvin (who won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his work). In 1966, she appeared in Arthur Penn’s The Chase, with Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, and Angie Dickinson; and The Game is Over, also directed by Vadim. In 1967, she teamed up again with Redford in the romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park, featuring Mildred Natwick in an Oscar-winning supporting role. In 1968, Fonda starred in the cult-favorite Barbarella, a science fiction film directed by Vadim, in which she played a superheroine determined to save the world from evil destruction. Dismayed by her image as a cartoonish sex symbol, Fonda began selecting more serious film roles, while at the same time, supporting heartfelt political issues.

In 1969, she starred in Sydney Pollack’s Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, a film for which she received her first Oscar nomination. (Pollack was also nominated for Best Director, and costar Gig Young earned an Academy Award for Best Actor). In her next film, Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971), also starring Donald Sutherland, Fonda received her first Academy Award.

Her next major success came in 1977 when she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of writer Lillian Hellman in Julia. The film also starred Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards in Oscar winning supporting roles. The next year, she won her second Oscar for Best Actress in Hal Ashby’s war drama Coming Home (1978), costarring Jon Voight (who also won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance). In 1979, she starred opposite Jack Lemmon in The China Syndrome, a film for which both Fonda and Lemmon received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. In 1980, Fonda teamed up with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin in the box office hit Nine to Five, a revenge comedy about sexism in the workplace, costarring Dabney Coleman. Coleman also appeared in Fonda’s next, and perhaps most personal work, On Golden Pond (1981). Jane starred opposite her father in the last film before his death in August 1982. Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn both won Oscars for their highly acclaimed lead performances as an aging married couple, and Jane was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her supporting role as their troubled daughter. Fonda won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Gertie Nevels, a poor Southern woman, in the television movie The Dollmaker (1984). Her next notable performance came as the psychiatrist Dr. Martha Livingston in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-nominated film Agnes of God (1985), also starring Meg Tilly and Anne Bancroft. The next year Fonda gave an Oscar-nominated performance as an alcoholic woman involved in a murder in Sidney Lumet’s suspense thriller The Morning After (1986), costarring Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia. A long-time fitness enthusiast, Fonda released an enormously popular workout book and video, Jane Fonda’s Workout, in 1982. The video launched an aerobics craze, and Fonda kept pace with numerous exercise videos throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Fonda has championed political causes throughout her life, from supporting the Black Panthers and protesting the United States involvement in the Vietnam War, to speaking out on equal rights. Her actions have at times been perceived as disloyalty to her country, such as when, in 1972, she broadcast antiwar sentiments from Hanoi, Vietnam. During this trip, she also posed in an anti-aircraft carrier so that it appeared as though she was shooting at American planes—a political stunt for which she earned the nickname “Hanoi Jane” and received enormous criticism from conservative nationalists.

She apologized many years later, remorsefully telling O magazine in June 2000 that, “It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done.”

Fonda’s marriage to Roger Vadim in 1965 produced one daughter. The couple divorced in 1970. Her marriage to Tom Hayden in 1973 lasted until 1989, and together they had one son. In 1991, Fonda married medial mogul Ted Turner; but the couple announced their separation in early 2000. .

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