Say what you will about Jane Fonda, activist, feminist, actress, fitness guru, her career has been pretty impressive.

Early Life

Born Jane Seymour Fonda, on December 21, 1937, in New York City. She is the daughter of famed actor Henry Fonda and the sister of actor Peter Fonda. Jane’s mother, Frances Seymour Brokaw (Henry Fonda’s second of five wives), committed suicide in October 1950, when Jane was 12 years old. Her father then married actress Susan Blanchard eight months later, and throughout their six-year marriage, she helped to raise Jane and her brother. She attended Vassar College for two years until 1958, when her father introduced her to acting coach Lee Strasberg. She became Strasberg’s student at the Actors Studio in Malibu, California.

Film Career

She made her screen debut in 1960 along side Anthony Perkins in a movie called Tall Story. In 1962, she appeared in several films, the most notable being Walk on the Wild Side , featuring Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Baxter.

Soon after, Fonda fell in love with a French director named Roger Vadim, who cast her in Circle of Love in 1964. Vadim and Fonda were married in 1965, the same year she appeared in the title role of the Western comedy Cat Ballou, opposite Lee Marvin In 1966, she appeared in The Chase, with Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, and Angie Dickinson. In 1967, she teamed up again with Redford in the comedy Barefoot in the Park. In 1968, she starred in the cult-favorite Barbarella. ( If you haven’t seen it –by all means try to. Failing that, read teleny’s excellent w/u.) . Bothered by her image as a sex symbol, she began selecting more serious film roles, while at the same time, supporting political issues.( info on that comes later)

In 1969, she starred in the Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? directed by Sydney Pollack and received her first Oscar nomination. In her next film, Klute in 1971, also starring Donald Sutherland, she received her first Academy Award.

Her next major success came in 1977 when she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of writer Lillian Hellman in Julia. Her co-stars, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards both won Oscars for their supporting roles. The next year, she won her second Oscar for Best Actress, starring in the Vietnam war drama Coming Home , costarring Jon Voight who also won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance. In 1979, she starred opposite Jack Lemmon in The China Syndrome, a movie for which they both received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

In 1980, she teamed up with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin in Nine to Five (9 to 5), a comedy about sexism in the workplace. After that came her most personal work, On Golden Pond in 1981. She starred opposite her father in the last film before his death in August 1982. Both Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn won Oscars for their performances as an aging married couple, and Jane was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her supporting role as their daughter. I think this was the only time where daughter Jane, and father Henry, teamed up to make a film

She won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of a poor Southern woman, in a television movie The Dollmaker in 1984. Her next notable performance came as the psychiatrist in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-nominated film Agnes of God in 1985 which also starred Meg Tilly and Anne Bancroft. The next year she gave an Oscar-nominated performance as an alcoholic woman involved in a murder in Sidney Lumet’s The Morning After, costarring Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia.

The Fitness Stage

Spandex anybody? A long-time fitness nut, she released an enormously popular workout book and video called Jane Fonda’s Workout in 1982. The video launched an aerobics craze, and she continued making numerous exercise videos throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.

A Question About Politics

What’s life without a little controversy? Well, during her time, Fonda has championed many a political cause. The most controversial would be her support of the Black Panthers and the infamous protesting of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1972, she broadcast antiwar sentiments from Hanoi, Vietnam. During her trip, she also posed in an anti-aircraft gunners seat so that it appeared as though she was shooting at American planes— a stunt for which she earned the nickname “Hanoi Jane” and received tons of criticism..Although she apologized many years later saying that, “It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done.” Many veterans groups and other Americans continue to resent her actions. Later in her life she championed the cause for equal rights for women.

Jane – the Philanthropist

In March 2001, she donated $12.5 million to Harvard University's School of Education, the largest donation in the school's history. She designated the money to create a center on gender and education studies. To quote her upon the donations she said, "We still have a culture that teaches girls and boys a distorted view of what it takes to be women and men."

The Marriages

Her first marriage was to French director Roger Vadim in 1965 and produced one daughter. They divorced in 1970. Her second marriage was to Tom Hayden in 1973 and lasted until 1989 and produced one son. In 1991, she married Ted Turner. After nine years of marriage and her recent conversion to Christianity, they announced their separation in early 2000. She filed for divorce in April 2001 and it was finalized May of the same year.

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