Jane Fonda (b. 1937)

Jane Fonda is an award-winning actor, a political activist, and a former fitness guru who moved to Atlanta in 1991 after marrying Ted Turner, the founder of CNN. Although the couple divorced in 2001, Fonda continues to live in Atlanta and to raise money for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP), an organization that she founded in 1995 with a grant from the Turner Foundation. Fonda also promotes southern regional folk art through Tinwood Books, a publishing venture that she co-owns with art collector Bill Arnett.

Personal History

Jane Seymour Fonda was born on December 21, 1937, in New York City to Henry Fonda, an actor, and Frances Seymour Brokaw. She was twelve years old when her mother committed suicide. Having lived much of her life in California, Fonda maintains that her connection to Atlanta is permanent—regardless of her split with Turner—because of her continuing support of G-CAPP and the proximity of her grandchildren and several other relatives and former family members.
Before her marriage to Turner, Fonda was married twice. In 1965 she married the French film director Roger Vadim, with whom she had a daughter, Vanessa; they divorced in 1970. Three years later she married the activist and politician Tom Hayden, with whom she had a son, Troy; they divorced in 1990. Fonda also has a close relationship with Nathalie Vadim, her stepdaughter, and Mary Williams, her informally adopted daughter. Other well-known family members include her father, actor Henry Fonda; her brother, actor Peter Fonda; and her niece, actor Bridget Fonda.
While there has been much curiosity in the media about her conversion to evangelical Christianity, Fonda has declined to speak publicly about her religious beliefs.

Philanthropy and Activism

In addition to G-CAPP, another of Fonda's legacies to the Atlanta region is the Jane Fonda Center at Emory University, created in 2001 with a $2 million donation from Fonda. The center conducts adolescent reproductive health research and provides training and program development for health care professionals. In 2000 Fonda donated $1.3 million to fund a program at Grady Hospital for teaching young people—men as well as women—about reproductive health. She also gave $12.5 million for a study of gender in education to Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Fonda, a longtime political activist, has made public appearances to promote the nonprofit organization V-Day. The group is led by playwright Eve Ensler and conducts campaigns around the world to combat violence against women. Some of Fonda's past political activism has generated controversy, particularly her protests of the Vietnam War (1964-73). One incident that has particularly haunted her career occurred in 1972, when she was photographed sitting atop a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Afterward, some people accused her of being a Communist and a traitor to the United States. Ire over her activism during this period still lingers for some, although she apologized publicly in 1988 and told journalist Barbara Walters in an interview on the television program 20/20 that she regretted criticizing the returning American soldiers who had been prisoners of war.

Film Career

During the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in Utah, Fonda announced that she would make her movie comeback, after many years in retirement, by starring opposite Jennifer Lopez in the comedy Monster-in-Law. Fonda plays the role of a ruthless mother-in-law in the film, which opened in May 2005 with an Atlanta premiere. Fonda's previous acting credits include two Oscar-winning performances. She received the first award for her portrayal in Klute (1971) of a tough-talking call girl who is stalked by a killer. She received a second Oscar for her performance in Coming Home (1978), in which she plays a loving wife whose husband is serving with the marines in Vietnam. Fonda also gave memorable performances in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), Julia (1977), The China Syndrome (1979), On Golden Pond (1981), The Morning After (1986), and Stanley and Iris (1990).
In 1979 Fonda opened an aerobics studio in Beverly Hills, California, and throughout the 1980s released popular exercise videos and books.

Publishing

Tinwood Books, which Fonda co-owns, released its first publication in 2000-2001. The two-volume set, entitled Souls Grown Deep, features color photographs of art by African American self-taught artists. Tinwood's next book, In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was published in 2002. Fonda's memoir, My Life So Far, became an immediate best seller upon its publication in 2005 by Random House.
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Further Reading
Carla Fine, foreword by Jane Fonda, Strong, Smart, and Bold: Empowering Girls for Life (New York: Cliff Street, 2001).

Jane Fonda, My Life So Far (New York: Random House, 2005).
Cite This Article
Potwora, Judith. "Jane Fonda (b. 1937)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 28 August 2013. Web. 25 October 2014.
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Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries