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Jane Fonda
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Jane Fonda

Jane Seymour Fonda (born December 21, 1937, New York City) is an Academy Award winning, American actress. Her activism and philanthropy in opposition to the Vietnam War, made her infamous among pro-war and pro-military Americans.

She is the daughter of the acclaimed actor Henry Fonda and his second wife, New York socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw (formerly Mrs. George Tuttle Brokaw). Though her father's middle name was Jaynes and her mother's maiden name was Seymour, she was named after Lady Jane Seymour (the third wife of King Henry VIII).

Table of contents
1 Acting career
2 Opposition to the Vietnam War
3 Later activism
4 Fonda, Kerry and the VVAW
5 Later career
6 Personal life
7 Academy Awards and Nominations
8 Filmography
9 External links

Acting career

In 1954, Jane joined her father on stage with the Omaha Community Theatre in a production of The Country Girl. She attended Vassar College, met Lee Strasberg in 1958, and joined his Actors Studio. Fonda's screen debut in the frivolous Tall Story in 1960 did not presage the more serious work that would become her trademark. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home, and was nominated five more times.

Opposition to the Vietnam War

Fonda became involved in political activism during the time of the Vietnam War, and became the target of hatred from many Americans for her visit to Hanoi where she advocated opposition to the war. During this visit she acquired the nickname Hanoi Jane, comparing her to Tokyo Rose and Hanoi Hannah. Because of her actions, John Wayne cut off all contact with her, in spite of the fact that he was a close friend of her father Henry Fonda.

Although the war was largely protested at home by this time, and many Americans were against the war, her actions were widely perceived as over the top. She has often been associated with a perceived anti-soldier sentiment among Vietnam War protesters, such as spitting on soldiers.

The anti-war movement of the time was not characterized by a single motivation: some, such as Quakers and other traditionally pacifist groups were opposed to war in any circumstances; some felt that the war was not an American responsibility or concern, arguing especially that it was a civil war in which the US was choosing sides; some, such as young men of draft age, their parents and friends, didn't want their lives risked in an unpopular war; but some expressed a partisanship for the opposing side in the war, and it was Fonda's identification with that group that made her such a polarizing figure.

When Jane Fonda was honored by Barbara Walters in 1999 as one of the 100 great women of the century, sentiments regarding Fonda's actions in Vietnam were rekindled. Rumors that Fonda handed over information about U.S. soldiers to National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgents (better known in the U.S. as the "Viet Cong") are provably untrue, as are reports that a pilot spat at Fonda and was beaten for it and that one POW was beaten to death for refusing to meet with her. The latter story, though, may be an exaggeration of the true account of Michael Benge, a civilian advisor captured by the NLF in 1968 and held as a POW for 5 years. He wrote "When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as 'humane and lenient.' Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel re-bar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped." [1] [1]

Jane Fonda in Hanoi, 1971
Fonda posed for a picture at an anti-aircraft battery and participated in several radio broadcasts. She also visited American prisoners of war who assured her that they had neither been tortured nor brainwashed. Fonda believed these claims and relayed them to the American public. When cases of torture began to emerge among POWs returning to the United States, Fonda called them liars. She also added, concerning the POWs she met, "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." Concerning torture in general, Fonda told the New York Times in 1973, "I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture...but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie.". Her stance has some backing, as former vice presidential candidate and POW James Stockdale wrote that no more than 10% of US pilots in captivity received more than 90% of the torture, usually for acts of resistance. Additionally, John Hubbel's research into the conflict indicates that the majority (but certainly not all) of the torture occurred before 1969 (Fonda's visit was in 1973).

To her benefit, Fonda did deliver home letters from many American POWs in Vietnam. She also is often credited with publicly exposing the strategy of bombing the dikes in Vietnam, for which she was at the time called a liar by then-UN ambassador George H. W. Bush.

Later activism

In 1988, Fonda apologized for her actions to the American POWs and their families. Fonda continues to participate in peace activism, in particular regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Fonda, Kerry and the VVAW

In 2004, her name has been used as a disparaging epithet against Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry by Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who called Kerry a "Jane Fonda Democrat".

In an effort to link Kerry's Vietnam War policies with Fonda, a doctored photograph made the rounds of the Internet, showing Kerry and Fonda speaking at a Vietnam Veterans Against the War program. In fact, Fonda did not attend the event.

There is an undoctored photo of Fonda and Kerry attending a similar event, although their sitting several rows apart belies the involvement in both with the VVAW event. That was September 7, 1970, when both were among eight speakers at a VVAW rally in Valley Forge.[1] Kerry was involved in organizing the rally. Four days later, the VVAW Executive Committee, including Kerry, state Fonda will go on a speaking tour.[1] Beginning November 3, she toured and raised funds for the organization as the VVAW Honorary National Coordinator. This was before Fonda's famous visit to Vietnam.

Commenting on the event, she later stated:

"My reaction is that the American people have had it with the big lie. Any attempt to link Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I spoke, Donald Sutherland spoke, John Kerry spoke at the end. I don't even think we shook hands. And they're also saying this organization, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, was a Communist organization. This was an organization of men who risked their lives in Vietnam, who considered themselves totally patriotic. So anyone who slams that organization and slams Kerry for being part of it is doing an injustice to veterans. How can you impugn, how can you even suggest, that anyone like Kerry or any of these veterans were not patriotic? He was a hero there. " [1]

In fact, as noted by the New York Times, Fonda was a "major patron" of the VVAW, but when Kerry was involved, contemporaries recount, he often took steps to moderate the group's actions. "When he organized the mass march on Washington that resulted in his Senate testimony, Ms. Fonda was nowhere to be seen.". There was much debate in VVAW as to whether to include her in the group at all.

"I think Kerry made a big effort not to have me invited to participate in that," Ms. Fonda said in a telephone interview [in February 2004]. "Because I think he wanted the organization to distance itself from me, that I was too radical or something." [1]

Fonda was indeed busy then. Three days before the VVAW meeting where Kerry proposed the march on Washington, D.C., Fonda and Donald Sutherland formed *FTA* ("Free The Army" or "Fuck The Army"), an antiwar road show designed as an answer to Bob Hope's USO tour. The tour, referred to as "political vaudeville" by Fonda, visited military towns along the West Coast, with the goal of establishing a dialog with soldiers to get their throughts on their upcoming deployments (which were later made into a movie).

In March 1971, Fonda travelled to Paris (some claim alone, some claim with an unnamed VVAW representative) to meet with NLF foreign minister Madam Nguyen Thi Binh. According to a transcript in which she was translated to Vietnamese and back to English, she told Binh at one point "Many of us have seen evidence proving the Nixon administration has escalated the war causing death and destruction perhaps as serious as the, bombing of Hiroshima.". Afterwards, she travelled to London. A speech that she gave in London was criticized for her discussion of the US use of torture in Vietnam. Her financial support to VVAW at this time was apparently not significant, as within a month VVAW was broke and Kerry raised the needed funds.

Fourteen months later, Fonda went on her well-known trip to Hanoi.

Later career

In the 1980s, Fonda reinvented herself in a series of workout videos.

Personal life

Her mother committed suicide by cutting her throat in 1950, when Jane was 12. That same year, her father married Susan Blanchard (step-daughter of Oscar Hammerstein II, and eventually wife of Richard Widmark), who became a second mother to her until 1956. Jane Fonda has been married three times. Her first husband (1965-73) was French film director Roger Vadim (b.1928-d.2000) with whom she had a daughter, Vanessa, named for Vanessa Redgrave, the well-known actor and activist member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Her second husband (1973-1990) was author and politician Tom Hayden, by whom she has a son, Troy Garity, and an adopted daughter. Her third husband (1991-2001) was American cable-television tycoon Ted Turner.

Academy Awards and Nominations

All for Best Actress unless noted


External links