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Definition: Fonda from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

Henry (Jaynes) Fonda 1905–1982 & his dau. Jane 1937–     orig. Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda Am. actors

Summary Article: Fonda, Jane
From The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World

Jane Fonda, born December 21, 1937, is a renowned actress, activist, feminist, author, and fitness guru. While Fonda is known worldwide for her Oscar-winning performances in Klute (1972) and Coming Home (1979), she has worked tirelessly for decades on antiwar campaigns, reproductive health issues for teens, physical fitness promotion, and for civil and women's rights both locally and internationally.

Beginning in the 1960s, Fonda used her wealth and celebrity to stage protests and raise money to fight against the Vietnam War. In 1972, she traveled to Hanoi to investigate reports that the United States was intentionally bombing dikes that held back the Red River in North Vietnam. She recorded proof of these attacks, as well as interviews with Vietnamese soldiers, but her film allegedly disappeared once she returned to the United States. Fonda chose to speak publicly on Radio Hanoi about her strong antiwar sentiments. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency obtained transcripts of these radio shows, and monitored her closely, along with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the White House. Rather than highlight her antiwar efforts, these institutions, along with the international media, focused on a photograph of Fonda sitting on an antiaircraft battery. The photo earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” She apologizes for the lapse in judgment that led to the photograph, but remains unapologetic for her antiwar protests.

Despite the scrutiny, Fonda created the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC) with the goal of moving the antiwar campaign from demonstrations and rallies into local communities. Through the IPC, she produced a film about ordinary Vietnamese people titled Introduction to the Enemy to prove to Americans that the Vietnamese were not the enemy. After the United States left Vietnam for good in 1975, Fonda and then-husband Tom Hayden began the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED) to express opposition to nuclear power. Fonda used some of the money raised through the CED to produce the film, The China Syndrome in 1979, a story about corporate greed and a nuclear power plant accident cover-up.

A New Aspect to Her Career

Transcript: Jane Fonda on Celebrity Status

Ted Sawicki/Getty Images

Getty Images

Jane Fonda spoke about being the child of a celebrity at the 1980 premiere of Nine to Five, and discusses whether or not she wanted her daughter to go into acting.

Transcript: I think that some people don't like me very much and some people like me a lot. And there's almost nobody who's undecided.

Do you like that?

Not particularly.

I talked to Fonda about whether she would ever want to direct and about her daughter Vanessa.

I like to participate with other people in the creation of the movie, and I've become a producer. My partner, Bruce Gilbert, and I produced this movie and it was essentially my idea to do it with Dolly and Lily. But I'm not interested in directing.

Would you want Vanessa to grow up to be an actress?

If it would make her happy.

Yes. Do you recommend it to her as a profession?



Too few people can succeed as an actress or an actor. It's a very unhappy business if you've been bitten by the bug and you can't make it. And I think there are particular pressures on you when you're the son or daughter of someone who's already made it. But if that's what she wants to do with her life, I'm not going to stand in her way, but I won't encourage her.

And finally, does Jane think she's mysterious?

Not to my kinds I'm not. Maybe to some people I am.

In the 1980s, Fonda turned her sights toward physical fitness with the Jane Fonda Workout Book and Jane Fonda Workout video. She made home fitness fun, and encouraged women and men alike to “feel the burn.” The Jane Fonda Workout video sold more than 17 million copies and boosted sales of the video cassette recorder (VCR) as well.

Fonda became vocal about international human rights for women and girls in the 1990s and increased her activism worldwide. She visited Cairo in 1994 to speak at the International Conference on Population and Development as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. This trip exposed Fonda to extreme poverty and inspired her to found the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. The campaign helps young girls to make informed choices about pregnancy, family planning, reproductive health, and raising children, while also encouraging young men to be attentive fathers. In 1995, Fonda traveled to Beijing to participate in the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. A few years later, she went to the Nigeria to film a documentary titled Generation 2000: Changing Girls’ Realities about innovative schools in Nigeria that help foster girls’ self-esteem with a solid education.

In the new millennium Fonda has devoted her time and energies to the VDay movement, with the mission of ending violence against women everywhere. She serves on the V-Board and has been a regular participant in benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues since 2001. In 2001, she also founded the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent and Reproductive Health at Emory University. Fonda cofounded the Women's Media Center (WMC) in 2005, a nonprofit progressive women's media organization, with fellow activists Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan. The WMC seeks to make women more visible in the media.

See Also:

Celebrity Women, Ensler, Eve, Fitness, Pacifism, Female, Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights, Vagina Monologues, The.

Further Readings
  • Fonda, Jane My Life So Far. New York: Random House, 2006.
  • Hershberger, M Jane Fonda's War: A Political Biography of an Antiwar Icon. New York: New Press, 2005.
  • Hershberger, M., ed. Jane Fonda's Words of Politics and Compassion. New York: The New Press, 2006.
  • White, Katie M.
    © SAGE Publications, Inc

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