While she has earned rave reviews and two Academy Awards in her acting career, Jane Fonda, who turned 75 on Dec. 21, is the first to admit she has made some big mistakes in her life. Miss Fonda has written that her three failed marriages were efforts to resolve her relationship with her father. She says all three men dominated her, much as her cold father, Henry Fonda, did. “Until age sixty I never had enough self-confidence to feel validated unless I was with a man,” she wrote in her memoirs. This week The List looks at Miss Fonda’s 10 biggest mistakes.
- 10. Roger Vadim — Miss Fonda wrote in her 2005 book, “My Life So Far,” that in the hedonistic 1960s she pimped for her first husband, French film director Roger Vadim, finding partners for group sex. “Sometimes there were three of us, sometimes more,” she wrote. “Sometimes it was even I who did the soliciting.” She was married to Vadim, 10 years her senior, from 1965 to 1973. “He trailed a redheaded call girl into … bed one night,” Miss Fonda said, and “it never occurred to me to object.”
- 9. Black Panthers — According to the book “Jane Fonda” by Patricia Bosworth, Miss Fonda opened her checkbook to the Black Panthers in the early 1970s. She paid a $2,000 phone bill, lent out her credit card and posted bail for Panthers who had been arrested. The Panthers promptly charged a car to her Visa card — then lost both the car and the card. One of them skipped town after she had paid $50,000 bail money.
- 8. Tom Hayden— After Roger Vadim, her next marriage was to left-wing social activist Tom Hayden from 1973 to 1989. It has been reported that the relationship was more like a political alliance than a marriage. Miss Fonda raised millions for her husband’s causes. On her 51st birthday, Mr. Hayden told her he had fallen in love with someone else, causing Miss Fonda to have a nervous breakdown.
- 7. Breast implants — Miss Fonda had breast implants at the age of 51 and then had them removed. Later, after clinching a six-figure deal to become the face of L'Oreal Paris anti-aging treatment cream, she urged fellow actresses not to have plastic surgery.
- 6. Starvation in Georgia — Miss Fonda was forced to apologize to Georgians in April 1998 after telling the United Nations that “children are starving to death” in her adopted home state, which she compared to “some developing countries.” “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said what I said,” Miss Fonda said in a statement. She moved to Georgia after her 1991 wedding to Atlanta cable-television magnate Ted Turner.
- 5. “Jane Fonda Workout” — You probably thought Miss Fonda’s sole motivation for making those exercise videos was to get women in shape. Not so. In her famous 2000 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Miss Fonda admitted that the real purpose for the videos was to raise funds for then-husband Tom Hayden’s Campaign for Economic Democracy, which owned the rights to the tapes, which netted $17 million. Miss Fonda said she had mixed feelings about the tapes because they implied that thin is the only way to be. “But you helped so many women define their boundaries,” Miss Winfrey gushed, “and what you intended was for every woman to find herself.” “What I intended,” Miss Fonda said, “was to raise money for a political organization.”
- 4. Ted Turner— Third husband Ted Turner cheated on her just a month after they were married. In his 2008 memoir, Mr. Turner said he was “upset” when he discovered his wife’s conversion to Christianity, mostly because Miss Fonda hadn’t notified him about it. Their marriage lasted from 1991 to 2001.
- 3. “Barbarella” — Talk about exploitation. Director Roger Vadim portrayed Miss Fonda, his wife at the time, as an intergalactic sex kitten in the film “Barbarella” a campy 1968 sci-fi/fantasy film that was a box-office and critical failure on its release. It was a role Miss Fonda wanted to forget. The film is best remembered for her zero-gravity striptease. “A mix of poor special effects and the Marquis de Sade,” one reviewer said. In her autobiography, Miss Fonda says she was in agony during the making of the film.
- 2. “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” — This 1969 film starring Miss Fonda is about a dance marathon set in the Great Depression and must be one of the most depressing films you will ever see. If you have suicidal tendencies, stay away from this film. Gig Young, who won an Academy Award for his role in the film, committed suicide in 1978 after shooting and killing his wife of three weeks.
- 1. “Hanoi Jane” photo — A photo taken of Miss Fonda sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun targeting U.S. planes, laughing and clapping with enemy soldiers in 1972, haunted her throughout her career. It earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane,” and she has been vilified by her critics ever since. “The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda’s daughter, sitting on an enemy [anti-]aircraft gun was a betrayal, ” she acknowledged in her autobiography. She told Oprah Winfrey: “I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me. … It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.”
- Some of her better decisions: “At the end of my marriage to Ted Turner I became a Christian.” She also brought the play “On Golden Pond” to the screen in 1981. Miss Fonda purchased the rights to the play so her father, Henry Fonda, could portray the cantankerous Norman Thayer. The father-daughter rift depicted onscreen closely paralleled the real-life relationship between the two Fondas. Her father won an Oscar for his role.
Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: Associated Press, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), The Express, The Daily Mail, Wikipedia and “Jane Fonda” by Patricia Bosworth.
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