The Heart Grows Fonda

She is a libertine, a political and social activist and at the age of 84, Jane Fonda remains her gauntlet-hurling, shit-stirring, couldn’t give a damn self.

Jane Fonda, 1964 Photo by George Konig/REX/Shutterstock (5674f)

Scroll through your Netflix feed and you’ll find the sitcom Grace and Frankie. One of its stars is 84-year-old Jane Fonda, and the other is Lily Tomlin. They play a pair of one-upping lifelong friends whose husbands fall in love with each other, leaving the women suddenly single. Even in 2017 it is a fairly daring premise for mainstream media, yet for Fonda it is merely an extension of a career in which she has gleefully stirred hornets’ nests and displayed a billionaire’s nous for business.

Born in 1937, her father was the noted actor Henry Fonda, a man who could portray a staggering range of emotion on screen but who was, by most accounts, colder than an Inuk’s fridge. Despite an initial reluctance, Jane joined the Actors Studio and, in 1968, announced herself to the hearts and minds of men the world over in the film Barbarella. In a silver miniskirt whose hems had sterling views of her all-American pleasure garden, she played a carnally fuelled alien whose attitudes mirrored the burgeoning sexual liberation of women around the world at the time.


David Smiedt


February 2022


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