Jane Fonda’s 85th birthday: from Hollywood star to activism superstar |  People

Jane Fonda’s 85th birthday: from Hollywood star to activism superstar | People

Account Jane Fonda in the documentary Jane Fonda in five acts (HBO Max) than to shoot the opening scene of the film Barbarella (1968), in which he appears doing an acrobatic striptease in space, he had to get drunk on vodka. She also recounts that, since that first take didn’t work, in which she was finally given up and she suffered a terrible hangover. Barbarella It is run by her then-husband, Roger Vadim, with whom she had just had her first daughter and lived on the outskirts of Paris. Jane Fonda never wanted to make that movie, she wasn’t comfortable with the character’s sexuality, and she had no interest in science fiction, but she was carried away by her husband who, unlike her, had an exorbitant interest in sex and for science fiction. At that time, as she confesses in the documentary, Jane Fonda did not know who she was. It would take time for her to know. For this reason, the now fervent activist for women’s rights, recognizes that she allowed the men around her to mold her at her whim to become what they expected of her.

Born in 1937, the daughter of actor Henry Fonda, she grew up in a socially privileged environment, although her home was far from representing the American dream: her mother, Frances Ford Seymour, committed suicide in a mental hospital. Jane Fonda and her brother, Peter Fonda, were told that she had suffered a heart attack. She found out that she had committed suicide through the magazines and, from that moment, she knew that she had to become the opposite of what her mother figure represented.

Jane Fonda became the perfect daughter, suppressed her emotions, tried hard to play the good girl role, the one of the girls who get good grades and don’t cause trouble. And, over time, she became the perfect girl, too. She studied acting from the hand of Lee Strasberg, teacher of actors of the stature of Marilyn Monroe or Paul Newman, because she was what she had to do. She became an actress almost by accident. If the first step had been to be a good daughter and, later, the sweet-eyed actress who starred in romantic comedies, the final step was to be a good wife and mother. But she discovered activism and, at the same time, she began to discover herself.

From Jane Fonda to Jane of Arc

Police photograph of Jane Fonda after being arrested for confronting a police officer in Cleveland on November 3, 1970.
Police photograph of Jane Fonda after being arrested for confronting a police officer in Cleveland on November 3, 1970.Kypros (Kypros via Getty Images)

“Jane Fonda… What the hell is wrong with Jane Fonda? I feel terrible for Henry Fonda, he’s a good man. She is a great actress, she is very pretty, but… she is completely astray, ”the president of the United States at that time, Richard Nixon, comments with concern in some tapes recorded at the White House in the early seventies. The good girl had been arrested by the police for demonstrating against the Vietnam War.

Between 1971 and 1973, three things happened in the life of Jane Fonda: she won an Oscar for the film Klute, in which she played a prostitute. Her immersion in that character of hers made her interested in the feminist movements that were surfing her second wave. For the role of her, she traded in her trademark long blonde hair for a bob bob with bangs that she dyed brown. that change of looks it gave her a break with her previous life: Jane Fonda was another Jane Fonda. She also divorced her first husband, Roger Vadim, who, mocking her fascination with politics and activism — fueled by her French friends, including actress Simone Signoret, from the circle of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre—and her disinterest in the hedonistic and frivolous life, began to refer to her as Jane of Arc. And finally, he returned to the United States and turned to all the social movements that, at that time, were shaking the foundations of his country: opposition to the Vietnam War or the movement for the rights of Native Americans and that of African Americans. Jane Fonda joined all those causes and soaked up them like a sponge, feeling guilty for not having been interested in the world around her until after she was 30 years old.

“Countries, just like people, should be in constant revolution, in constant change,” Fonda admitted in a television interview at the time. She was discovering who she was and filling, through the causes she fought for, that emptiness that she had felt inside of her throughout her life. That new role, so far removed from that of a good girl, also earned her a long list of her enemies, becoming included in Hollywood’s blacklist and spending more than one night in a dungeon. By then, the new Jane Fonda had married her second husband, Tom Hayden, a social and political activist. They led a humble life, away from the Hollywood spotlight, where it was difficult for her to have more projects due to her uncomfortable activist facet, so unglamorous in the face of the gallery. But, at the same time, they needed to raise money for the causes they were involved in and so they decided to open a business.

Jane Fonda holding the Oscar award she had just won for the film 'Klute' at the 1972 ceremony. For the film, she got the signature haircut that she kept for much of the decade.
Jane Fonda holding the Oscar award she had just won for the film ‘Klute’ at the 1972 ceremony. For the film, she got the signature haircut that she kept for much of the decade. Bettmann (Bettmann Archive)

She opened her first gym in Beverly Hills in 1976. At first, she taught some classes herself to raise funds to support solar energy and care for the environment. In 1981 her methods were so famous that she published a book on fitness, Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, which remained on the best-seller list for two years according to The New York Times. That idea was a complete success. And, already in the eighties, it re-emerged as the undisputed queen of the fitness and healthy life.

At 85, Fonda continues to play the role of activist to perfection: in 2018, while promoting the film Youth, directed by director Paolo Sorrentino, just wanted to talk about the Black Lives Matters movement. That same year, she decided to take the Me Too movement a step further, to Congress, to defend the most vulnerable workers, such as domestic workers or farm workers. In 2019, the actress was arrested every Friday for protesting in Washington against climate change. In 2020, she began calling the protests herself. That same year, she put on her unmistakable aerobics tights again to ask for the Democratic vote and prevent a new victory for Donald Trump.

He also continues to practice sports, although at a lower intensity, despite being undergoing chemotherapy treatment to fight a “very treatable” cancer, as he acknowledged when he announced it last September. Just six days ago, the actress explained that her oncologist had confirmed that her disease was remitting. “The best birthday present from her!” Wrote the interpreter on her blog. At 85 years old, Fonda already knows exactly who she is and what her mantra is: movement. The change. The evolution. A movement that is born from the physical and culminates in the political. Or vice versa.

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