Jane Fonda was born into a distinguished acting family. Her father, Henry Fonda, was the famous actor of the golden age of Hollywood, while her mother’s family tree stretches back to Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. Her mother, Frances Ford Seymour, was a tragic character who ended her life when Jane was 12. Jane Fonda is a mother to actor Troy Garity and a filmmaker Vanessa Vadim. Even though she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, her life was very tumultuous. Jane was always outspoken about politics which often got her in a heap of trouble. Even today, at 84 years old she still carries a stamp of being the bad girl of Hollywood.
Jane’s mother committed suicide after being asked for a divorce
Henry Fonda and Frances Seymour were married for 13 years when her father fell in love with a 21-year old Hollywood actress Susan Blanchard. In January 1950 Frances was admitted to the psychiatric ward where she took her own life three months later. Jane Fonda was 12, and her brother Peter Fonda 9 years old. The kids were told by their father that their mom passed away due to heart problems and were not allowed to attend the funeral. A couple of months later Henry married his mistress and the marriage lasted for the next three years. Around the same time, Jane’s dad was getting ready for the wedding, Jane found out from a newspaper that her mother killed herself.
“White gloves and pearls” story is an urban legend
The fictitious story about Jane Fonda wearing only white gloves and pearls to the tea party at Vassar women’s college in protest against its traditional rules has been swirling around the internet for decades. Both Jane and college officials denied this incident ever happening, although Jane expressed regret that she didn’t come up with that idea sooner. The true rebel.
Going from “Miss Army Recruiting 1962” to “Hanoi Jane”
In 1962 as the relationship between the US and Vietnamese governments started to tighten setting the stage for the future bloody conflict that will last for years, Jane Fonda was recording radio commercials calling young men to sign up for the army and help the American forces. Her relentless activism brought her a title of “Miss Army Recruiting 1962” of which Jane was very proud, at the time.
Fast forward ten years, in 1972, Jane met with North Vietnamese government officials. Photos of Jane Fonda sitting on the anti-aircraft gun went around the world triggering outrage in her home country. Her message was one of peace, but instead, it got her some bad publicity that still lingers over her head decades later. Bitter war veterans never accepted her numerous apologies, even though Jane admitted that it was the biggest mistake of her life. Later attempts to reconnect with army veterans went down the drain when in 2005 a man spat in Jane’s face during her book signing.
Jane Fonda turned down many iconic roles
It’s a true miracle the actress even has a career in Hollywood considering how many life-changing roles she refused.
In 1965 Jane turned down the role of Lara in “Doctor Zhivago”. Filming of the movie required all actors to spend nine months in Spain which Jane vigorously refused since she didn’t want to be separated from her fiance, Roger Vadim. Shortly thereafter, Fonda changed her mind but it was too late. Julie Christie already signed the contract.
In 1967, Jane passed on the role of Bonnie Parker from “Bonnie and Clyde” and the role went to Faye Dunaway which got her an Academy Award for the Best Actress. Six years later Jane made the same mistake when she turned down the role of Evelyn Mulwray in the cult Roman Polanski’s movie “Chinatown” alongside Jack Nicholson. Again, the role went to Faye Dunaway, and the film ended up getting 21 awards total, including BAFTA and Golden Globes.
Jane adopted a child of Black Panthers
The actress was always one of the loudest voices when it comes to human rights. Back in the 70s she vigorously supported Black Panthers and was close friends with many other activists. When one of them, Randy Williams, got involved in a shootout with the police and was arrested for wounding eight policemen, Jane decided to adopt his daughter Mary Williams. Unofficially, that is, but Jane considers Mary her daughter regardless of never officially filing the adoption papers. At the time, Jane was married to Tom Hayden who supported her decision. Decades later, Mary wrote a book about her life after her father went to jail, named “The Lost daughter”.
Tom Hayden ripped her off after the divorce
Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda married in 1973, days after her divorce from husband number one, Vadim. Right from the start there were signed that the marriage was not going to end well for Jane since Tom categorically refused to sign a prenuptial agreement. At the time, Fonda was already an established actress, while Tom was struggling to start his political career. Jane was his golden goose, financing all of his failed attempts to make a name for himself in Washington. The marriage finally ended in 1990 with Fonda having to pay Heyden $30 million. After Tom, Jane married one more time, but this time she signed a prenup when marrying CNN mogul Ted Turner.
Battling eating disorder
From an early age, her father Henry Fonda, who was considered to be selfish and narcissistic by many of his colleagues, taught Jane that the most important thing in life is the way someone looks. Her whole life she was possessed about the way she presented herself in the public. This psychological burden is behind all Jane’s success with “Jane Fonda’s Workout” program that sold 17 million copies, and later became a cause for developing bulimia. Jane was already in her forties, the signs of aging were starting to show leaving the actress desperate to stay young and skinny. She battled bulimia for almost a decade before she turned to her spiritual development and found some higher purpose.
Jane is a born-again Christian
After divorcing for the third time in 2001, Jane introduced Christian faith in her life again. She was never active in any church and was always considered an outcast. Fonda stayed true to herself to this day when she refused to be a part of any Christian group but rather incorporating Jesus’ teachings in her life the way she saw fit. Again, the actress caused an uproar from Christian fundamentalists slamming her for not being “a true believer”. Like with everything else in life, Jane did it her way.