Jane Fonda Biography

Jane Fonda photo

Born: December 21, 1937


Date of Birth: December 21, 1937

The first-born child of screen legend Henry Fonda and socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw, Jane Fonda's life has been marked not only by incredible success, but controversy and even tragedy. When she was 12, her mother committed suicide in a mental institution. The truth was hidden from Jane, who found it out several months later while reading a movie magazine. At around that time, she began her struggle with bulimia. When she was 16, director Joshua Logan convinced her to make her stage debut opposite her father in Omaha Community Theatre's production of The Country Girl.

After attending prestigious Vassar College, Fonda returned to New York, her birthplace, and began studying with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. She made her film debut in Tall Story (1960), and the same year, received a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Broadway production There Was a Little Girl.

Fonda has been nominated for a total of seven Academy Awards, winning for her performances in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978). She has also won seven Golden Globes and four People's Choice Awards. Screen history was made when she appeared alongside her father in his last feature film, On Golden Pond (1981).

An outspoken woman, Fonda seemed determined to stir up controversy. Having won the public's affection with wholesome roles in films such as Cat Ballou (1965) and Barefoot in the Park (1967), she appeared in several risqué movies, most notably the critically-panned Barbarella (1968). She then began to speak out against the Vietnam War and even visited a North Vietnamese gun site, where she posed with an enemy aircraft gun. Her actions earned her the nickname Hanoi Jane and the disdain of many Americans, especially those who'd served in the war. In 2005, when Fonda was in Kansas City on a book signing tour for her autobiography entitled My Life So Far, a Vietnam vet stood in line for 90 minutes for the chance to spit tobacco juice in her face and call her a traitor. Fonda declined to press charges.

In the 1980s, Fonda began a second highly successful career when she released Jane Fonda's Workout Book, followed by a number of videotapes in which she led people through aerobic exercises. She became as well-known as an exercise guru as for her acting and activism.

Married and divorced three times, she is the mother of three children, including actor Troy Garity. Fonda retired from acting after appearing opposite Robert De Niro in the box office bomb Stanley & Iris (1990), but returned 15 years later to play Jennifer Lopez's potential mother-in-law in Monster-in-Law (2005). She starred alongside Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) and most recently played a role in Better Living Through Chemistry (2014) starring Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde.

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