Jane Fonda, co-star of the "Monster-In-Law" Movie!
Hollywood legend has it that Bette Davis was forced to talk to a blank wall rather than her co-star Henry Fonda during filming of her close-ups in Jezebel; the reason was that he had repaired to New York to attend the birth of his daughter Jane. A child of privilege, the young Jane Fonda exhibited the imperious, headstrong attitude and ruthlessness that would distinguish both her film work and her private life. The teenage Fonda wasn't keen on acting until she worked with her father in a 1954 Omaha Community Theatre production of The Country Girl. Slightly interested in pursuing a stage career at this point, Fonda nonetheless studied art both at Vassar and in Europe, returning to the states to work as a fashion model. Studying acting in earnest at Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio, Fonda ultimately starred on Broadway in Tall Story, then made her film debut by re-creating this stage appearance in 1960.
A talented but not really distinctive player at this time, Fonda astonished everyone (none as much as her father) by becoming one of the first major American actresses to appear nude in a foreign film. This was La Ronde (1964), directed by her lover (and later her first husband) Roger Vadim. The event was heralded by a giant promotional poster in New York's theater district, with Fonda's naked backside in full view for all Manhattan to see. Vadim decided to mold Fonda into a "sex goddess" in a series of lush but forgettable films; the best Fonda/Vadim collaboration was Barbarella (1968), which scored as much on the actress' sharp comic timing (already evidenced in such American pictures as Cat Ballou, 1968) as it did on her kinky costuming. In the late '60s, Fonda underwent another career metamorphosis when she became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement. Her notorious visit to North Vietnam at the height of the conflict earned her the sobriquet "Hanoi Jane," as well as the enmity of virtually every ex-GI who fought in Southeast Asia.
Even so, Fonda's film stardom ascended in the early '70s; in 1971, she won the first of two Oscars for her portrayal of a high-priced prostitute in Klute (her other was for Coming Home ), and Fonda's career flourished despite a sub-rosa Hollywood campaign to discredit the actress and spread idiotic rumors about her subversive behavior (one widely circulated fabrication had Fonda destroying the only existing negative of Stagecoach because she despised John Wayne).
In the 1980s, the actress realized several personal and career milestones: she worked with her father on film for the only time in On Golden Pond (1981); she assisted former peace activist Tom Hayden, whom she had married in the early '70s, in his successful bid for the California State Assembly; and she launched the first of several best-selling exercise videos. She also won an Emmy for her performance in the TV movie The Dollmaker (1984). After her marriage to Hayden ended in the early '80s, Fonda married media mogul Ted Turner in 1991 (the couple would divorce in 2000), and began curtailing her film appearances, all but retiring from the screen after her lead role opposite Robert De Niro in 1990s Stanley & Iris. Though occasionally glimpsed performing the "tomahawk chop" at Atlanta Braves games during her marriage to Turner, Fonda was no less the social activist in the 1990s than she was two decades earlier: among her projects was the production of several "revisionist" dramatic specials and documentaries about the history of Native Americans, duly telecast on Turner's various worldwide cable services.
Being Jane Fonda
THE LAST TIME JANE FONDA WAS IN THE news, a little over a year ago, a doctored photograph placed her next to John Kerry at a 1970s anti-war rally she hadn’t even attended - a trick meant to hurt Kerry’s presidential chances by linking him to the woman nicknamed Hanoi Jane. And yet, just a month later, a poll by the non-partisan US organisation the Annenberg Public Policy Center turned up some startling results. Asked to identify personalities mentioned during the presidential campaign, 40 per cent of the respondents thought of Fonda as an actress and only 20 per cent as an anti-war activist. So much for her status as political poison.
That softer image was no fluke. Less than two weeks ago, a poll measuring celebrities’ appeal and recognition found that 62 per cent actually liked Fonda, in varying degrees, while only 38 per cent disliked her in some way. The survey, by E-Poll Market Research, also found that many more people recognised her name than her face, a strange result for a movie star. What happened to the politically polarising, instantly recognisable Jane Fonda?
No-one will be asking, "Where’s Jane?" in a few weeks, when her autobiography, My Life So Far, arrives with the kind of fiercely controlled, all-fronts media campaign of which politicians can only dream. Her publisher, Random House, will not release the book to reporters or critics in advance, and Fonda will not give interviews before her appearance on US TV show 60 Minutes, scheduled for 3 April. That’s two days before the book, all 600-plus pages of it, goes on sale. That week Fonda will hit Good Morning America and The Early Show, talk to David Letterman and Larry King, and probably feature in Time magazine (negotiations for serial rights are under way). She’ll be pretty much inescapable. If that’s not enough of a comeback, in May she will be in the movies again, playing a woman who doesn’t want her son to marry Jennifer Lopez’s character, in the comedy Monster-in-Law.
This in itself is big news. Fonda hadn’t made a movie in 15 years (Stanley and Iris, in which she taught Robert De Niro to read, was bad enough to scare any actor away), but that’s the least of the reasons for her relative obscurity. Her fame has always owed more to her life than to her acting, despite richly deserved Oscars for Klute and Coming Home. But today a generation not even born during the Vietnam war scarcely knows who she is, much less loves or hates her. And she flew largely under the celebrity radar screen during the decade of her unlikely marriage to television mogul Ted Turner, which ended in 2001.
But her influence on popular culture has been so enormous that it would be foolish to dismiss her as just another actress trying for a comeback; after all, she set a path American society has followed more than once. Her political activism, unusual for a movie star in the 1970s, is now so common that she seems like the template for contemporary celebrity. Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and Arnold Schwarzenegger might have had very different careers without her. Today only the most bubble-headed pop stars are expected not to comment on world events.
In the 1980s the Jane Fonda Workout videos set off an exercise craze that has never slowed down. Although Fonda has recently said she doesn’t have time to exercise, we probably wouldn’t be seeing Oprah Winfrey do Pilates on her show if not for the Jane Fonda tapes of 20 years ago.
And long before Madonna, Fonda was the mother of reinvention. At 67 she has carried her old selves along as she evolves, spinning her image as she goes. She has chosen to view her character in Barbarella (1968) not as a sex kitten but as an empowered woman and space explorer - not the most convincing argument ever made. More credibly, she has apologised often for statements and actions that hurt American soldiers serving in Vietnam, especially during her wartime visit to Hanoi, although she has never relinquished her anti-war position.
But she didn’t do her career or image much good during the years when she seemed to vanish into Turner’s world. Only they can say whether the marriage was based on true love, but from the outside it looked a lot like her midlife crisis. The once-pioneering feminist married a man widely perceived as crass and macho, an odd match even if he was the amazingly rich creator of CNN. The reigning member of one of Hollywood’s royal families moved to Atlanta (where she still lives) and became a philanthropist, starting a programme to prevent adolescents’ pregnancy. She seemed one step away from being a lady who lunches.
If the E-Poll respondents had trouble recognising her, no wonder. The recent photograph they were shown is that of a well-groomed middle-aged woman with short, artificially blonde hair and a painstakingly made-up face - a long way from the natural look she once cultivated. Her new look is so unfamiliar that the publisher’s catalogue copy is more wishful than accurate when it says, "She is one of the most recognisable women of our time."
The publisher’s description also says that the book discusses her life "in a way that might inspire others who can learn from her experience". Apparently the woman who once helped America tone its muscles now wants to lead the public on a more inward journey. Whether Americans choose to follow her - or care enough to buy her book - is what the media campaign is all about.
That personal journey certainly seems more important to her than acting. Monster-in-Law is the kind of calculated career move that must have sounded like a better idea when she signed on than it does now. Back then, Jennifer Lopez appeared to be a co-star who could lead Fonda to a new young audience. Since then the over-exposed Lopez has become a box-office joke.
Even if Monster-in-Law is a hit, Fonda has never made a film as enduring as some that her father, Henry Fonda, made. Julia and Klute are terrific movies, but there’s no Grapes of Wrath in her career. And maybe that’s fine with her. She has obviously sought to have a social impact; her cultural influence has already been so deeply absorbed we scarcely notice it anymore.
• Monster-in-law is released in the United Kingdom on 6 May. Jane Fonda launches My Life So Far at the Hay Festival on 26 May.
Monster-in-Law stars Fonda and Lopez airbrushed for promotional pictures
Two stars of the new film 'Monster-in-Law', Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, have undergone a digital makeover after film bosses decided they were not happy with publicity shots showing sweaty armpits, a saggy chin and a bit too much nipple.
Experts decided to touch up the pictures after they noticed the 67-year-old's Fonda's sweat patch under her arm and her saggy chin, which, after some computer tinkering, resulted in a painless face-lift for the double Oscar-winner.
The profile of 32-year-old co-star Jennifer Lopez was also altered to reduce the appearance of her nipple under her halter-neck top.
'Monster-in-Law' is Fonda's first film in 15 years. She last appeared in 'Stanley and Iris' with Robert De Niro, back in 1990.
In her new role, she plays the merciless mother of Charlotte Honeywell, played by Lopez, who tries to ruin her daughter's love life after having gone on an endless string of blind dates, which all go disastrously wrong, until she meets the perfect man, played by Michael Vartan.
Fonda is due to have a hip replacement operation soon and may have to attend the film premiere in May on crutches.
The film, directed by Robert Luketic and written by Anya Kochoff and Richard LaGravanese, is released on May 6.
Fonda recalls being forced into sex encounters
In book she says former husband forced her into lurid situations. In her new autobiography, Jane Fonda says her former husband Roger Vadim forced her into sexual encounters, a British newspaper reported.
The book, “My Life So Far,” is to be published next month by Random House. Leaked excerpts describe Vadim bullying Fonda into inviting other women into bed, as well as other lurid situations created by Vadim, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
Random House would not comment on the report.
Fonda, 67, was married to the French director from 1965 to 1973. She was his third wife of five, which included actress Brigitte Bardot, his first spouse. He died in 2000.
Vadim directed Fonda in his 1968 sci-fi sexual spoof “Barbarella.”
Jane Fonda Tells of her Struggle with Bulimia
Actress Jane Fonda shared her struggle with bulimia and quest for physical perfection at a conference of teenage girls, urging them to realise what it took her some 60 years to understand.
“The reason I’ve been excited about coming here is because I believe if we’re going to solve the problems confronting the world on every level, it’s going to have to be the girls who do it,” Fonda said.
The keynote speaker for Montana State University’s Girls for a Change Conference, Fonda told her audience of about 250 that her years of trying to look perfect have taken a great toll on her.
“I was bulimic for 35 years,” said Fonda, 67. “I mistook the physical hunger for spiritual hunger.”
Fonda said that growing up, she never felt she was good enough, and learned at a young age that a woman’s role was to please her husband. “I knew intuitively that to be loved, I have to be perfect,” she said.
When she hit adolescence, Fonda said, her days of climbing trees and riding horses were shadowed by feelings that she and her body were imperfect – feelings common to many girls, she said.
“That leaves a dark hole in the centre of ourselves,” she said.
Jane Fonda: Kerry Suffered From 'Wimp' Image
In more bad news for Sen. John Kerry, "Hanoi" Jane Fonda is once again stepping into the media spotlight, promoting her new book, "My Life So Far," and explaining that Kerry lost the election because he came across as "a wimp" and a "girlie man."
Fonda bankrolled Kerry's anti-war protests during the 1970s, and last year she tried to help him by registering as many women as possible in her "Vaginas Vote" campaign.
In a preview of what's to come as her book tour hits the TV talk show circuit, Fonda discussed her life and times last month at the "Girls For A Change" conference held at Montana State University.
She began by explaining that she'd spent the last five years working on her memoir, and insisted that her own life story is universal. Even someone who's wealthy, privileged, famous and white can be hurt by the hierarchy's rules in profound ways, Fonda explained.
Before too long the former actress got around to the subject of Kerry's defeat.
In quotes picked up by Bozeman, Montana's Daily Chronicle, she complained: "Men who show compassion or try to make peace are ridiculed as 'girlie men' or, like John Kerry, as wimps."
It's all a part of the patriarchal society we live in, she said, where American boys learn as early as age 5 that they have to earn a place in the hierarchy by being "real men" – not sissies who express emotion.
"We have to feel true empathy for boys," she urged. "Males have the power, but at what cost."
The former Hollywood radical urged girls to be more assertive, saying: "Get mad. It's not the way it has to be. Don't succumb, don't take it sitting down."
The solution, she said, is for girls to realize it's society and not their own flaws that makes them feel anxious and inadequate.
Jane Fonda will have hip replaced
Jane Fonda will undergo hip replacement surgery after finishing publicity tours for an upcoming film and her autobiography, her publicist, Pat Kingsley, said Thursday.
No date has been set for the procedure, she said, adding that Fonda had outpatient treatment Thursday. "She's back at home, and she's doing fine," Kingsley said.
67-year-old actress, fitness guru and political activist stars with Jennifer Lopez in Monster-in-Law, to be released in May.