22 July 2015

Imported from the USA: Jane Fonda

American actress Jane Fonda (1937) is a two-time Academy Award winner for the crime thriller Klute (1971) and the Vietnam drama Coming Home (1978). Roger Vadim's psychedelic Science Fiction spoof Barbarella (1968) made her one of the icons of the European cinema of the 1960s.

Jane Fonda
German postcard by ISV, Sort. 19/6. Publicity still for La Ronde/Circle of Love (Roger Vadim, 1964).

Jane Fonda, Barbarella
Yugoslavian postcard by Cik Razgledinica. Photo: publicity still for Barbarella (Roger Vadim, 1968).

Jane Fonda, Barbarella
British postcard by Pyramid, Leicester, no. PC 8095. Photo: publicity still for Barbarella (Roger Vadim, 1968).

Lady Jayne

Jane Fonda was born Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda in New York in 1937. She was the daughter of actor Henry Fonda and the Canadian-born socialite Frances Ford Brokaw, née Seymour. She has a brother, actor Peter Fonda, and a maternal half-sister, Frances.

Her mother committed suicide when Jane was 12. The suicide was kept from her as a teenager, and she was told that her mother had died of heart failure. Fonda learned the truth months later while leafing through a movie magazine in art class at Vassar.

Although she initially showed little inclination to follow her father's trade, she was prompted by director Joshua Logan to appear with her father in the 1954 Omaha Community Theatre production of The Country Girl.

Before starting her acting career, Fonda was a fashion model, gracing the cover of Vogue twice. In 1958, she met Lee Strasberg and she went to study acting in earnest at the Actors Studio. In 1960, she made her Broadway debut in the play There Was a Little Girl, for which she received the first of two Tony Award nominations.

Later the same year, she made her screen debut in the romantic comedy Tall Story (Joshua Logan, 1960), in which she recreated one of her Broadway roles as a college cheerleader pursuing a basketball star, played by Anthony Perkins. In Walk on the Wild Side (Edward Dmytryk, 1962), she played a prostitute, and earned a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer.

She rose to fame in such films as Period of Adjustment (George Roy Hill, 1962), Sunday in New York (Peter Tewksbury, 1963), Cat Ballou (Elliot Silverstein, 1965) opposite Lee Marvin, and Barefoot in the Park (Gene Saks, 1967), co-starring Robert Redford.

Fonda also worked in France. She appeared opposite Alain Delon in the delightful sexy thriller Les félins/Joy house (René Clément, 1964) and that same year, she was among the all-star cast of the anthology film La Ronde/Circle of Love (Roger Vadim, 1964), based on the classic Austrian novel Der Reigen by Arthur Schnitzler. 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.

Director Roger Vadim became her first husband in 1965. He featured her as a sex goddess in his next films, La curée/Tears of Rapture (Roger Vadim, 1966) with Michel Piccoli, and a segment of the anthology film Histoires extraordinaires/Spirits of the Dead (Federico Fellini, Louis Malle, Roger Vadim, 1968), an adaptation of three horror stories by Edgar Allan Poe. In Vadim's segment, Metzgernstein, Fonda played a decadent contessa who falls in love with her pure cousin (played by her brother Peter Fonda).

In 1968, Jane played the title role in Vadim's psychedelic SF spoof Barbarella, which established her status as a sex symbol. Despite the striptease-in-vacuum beginning and the kinky costumes, Barbarella is now a rather innocent and campy film. Brian J. Dillard at AllMovie: "Although it often pops up on 'Worst Movies Ever' lists, it's actually something of a treat if one approaches it with the right attitude. From the eye-popping plasticity of the production design to the gentle grooviness of the Bob Crewe Generation's campy lounge soundtrack, Barbarella is a defiantly trivial film. But Fonda's studied vacuity, Anita Pallenberg's kinky glamour, and John Phillip Law's bronzed pecs and hippie truisms keep things sexy, sweet, and funny. Fonda has spent more than three decades trying to live down the zero-gee peep show that opens the film, but besides a few bare breasts and countless double entendres, nothing here crosses the line between erotic comedy and pornography."

A turning point in her career was the American social drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They (Sydney Pollack, 1969). She played one of the contenders in a desperate dance marathon in 1932, during the Great Depression. Fonda herself considers They Shoot Horses, Don't They? as one of her best films. She went on to win the Best Actress Oscar for the crime thriller Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971). In France, Fonda next starred as a reporter alongside Yves Montand in Tout Va Bien (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972). A year later, she divorced from Vadim.

Jane Fonda
Spanish postcard by Ediciones Tarje Fher, no. 305. Deposito legal BI 1100-63. Photo: MGM.

Jane Fonda and Efrem Zimbalist in The Chapman Report (1962)
Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 367. Photo: publicity still for The Chapman Report (George Cukor, 1962) with Efrem Zimbalist.

Jane Fonda
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 16/71. Photo: Steffen.

Jane Fonda
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 461. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Jane Fonda
French postcard by Editions P.I., offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. 1135. Photo: Sam Lévin.


Jane Fonda is a seven-time Academy Award nominee. She won her second Best Actress Oscar for the Vietnam drama Coming Home (1978). Her other nominations were for her portrayal of the playwright Lillian Hellman in Julia (Fred Zinnemann, 1977), The China Syndrome (James Bridges, 1979) opposite Michael Douglas, On Golden Pond (Mark Rydell, 1981) with Katherine Hepburn and her father Henry Fonda, and The Morning After (Sidney Lumet, 1986) with Jeff Bridges.

In 1982, Jane Fonda 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 her second husband, the politician Tom Hayden in 1990, she married media mogul Ted Turner in 1991 and retired from acting. Divorced from Turner in 2001, she returned to acting with her first film in 15 years with the comedy Monster in Law (Robert Luketic, 2005) opposite Jennifer Lopez.

Subsequent films have included Georgia Rule (Garry Marshall, 2007) with Lindsay Lohan, the French drama Et si on vivait tous ensemble?/All Together (Stéphane Robelin, 2011), The Butler (Lee Daniels, 2013) as First Lady Nancy Reagan, and This Is Where I Leave You (Shawn Levy, 2014).

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 (2012-2014), has earned her two Emmy Award nominations. She also released another five exercise videos between 2010 and 2012.

Jane Fonda has been an activist for many political causes. Her counterculture era opposition to the Vietnam War included her being photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft battery on a 1972 visit to Hanoi, which was very controversial. 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 currently serves on the board of the organization.

Jane Fonda published the autobiography My Life So Far in 2005. In 2011, she published a second memoir, Prime Time. She has two children, daughter Vanessa Vadim (1968) with Roger Vadim, and Troy O'Donovan Hayden (aka Troy Garity) (1973) with Tom Hayden.

At the moment of writing, Jane Fonda is expected to appear in several new films and series. I am curious about the film Youth (2015), directed by Paolo Sorrentino. The film stars Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as two old friends, a retired composer and conductor and a still working film director, who are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Someone wants at all costs to hear the retired conductor conduct again. Last May, the film premiered in Italy.

Jane Fonda
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/353. Photo: Sam Levin.

Jane Fonda
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/244.

Jane Fonda
Italian postcard in the Artisti di Sempre series by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 344.

Jane Fonda
French postcard by EDUG, no. 377. Photo: Sam Levin.

Jane Fonda
American postcard by Coral-Lee, Rancho Cordova, Ca., no. Personality #61, 1981. Photo: Annie Leibovitz.

Sources: Brian J. Dillard (AllMovie), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Laurence Dang (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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