Saturday, January 7, 2012

My take on: Jane Fonda

It took me awhile but at 2:18 A.M. I finally finished Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman by Patricia Bosworth. It's a very thick book. I thought I would be able to finish it sooner, but life hit me. Having said that, this book is awesome. When it was all over I learned TOO much about Jane Fonda's sex life. While I'm reading it, I'm wondering when did this woman have time to act?

I've seen one of her movies, Nine to Five, and that was the extent of my Jane Fonda knowledge. I had heard of her anti-war stance during the Vietnam War, but wasn't really knowledgeable about it. I've seen Yours, Mine, and Ours, starring her father Henry Fonda, and that was the extent of my knowledge about him. After reading this book, he comes off as a cold, controlling, jerk. A jerk who loved his family, but had problems showing it.

Looking at celebrities, one could think they have it all. Money, power, and fame. How can those things be problematic. Jane Fonda was born into privilege, but affection was lacking in her family. Her father didn't care to truly understand his wife, Frances Fonda, who suffered from mental problems. He seemed to only acknowledge problems when they interfered with his career. Above all, his career was paramount. Jane Fonda seemed to have no emotional connection to her mother, but desperately wanted one with her father. She was always seeking not just his love but his approval (even as an adult). Her mother started Jane on her obsession with weight and body image.

Frances Fonda wound up committing suicide in a pretty graphic manner. Just before Frances had been pleading with her children to come to her. Peter Fonda gave into his mother, but Jane refused. She stayed upstairs, ignoring her mother's pleas. I found that odd and extremely uncaring. With parents like these wouldn't you strive to break the cycle? She was only 12, but made a very adult decision to ignore her mother.

As an adult, Jane Fonda had numerous relationships with men who wanted to control and exploit her. In all of her long-term relationships, the men seemed to have ulterior motives. Maybe they were subtle. Or maybe she was so in love, she ignored all the bad stuff. Her first husband, Roger Vadim, was always in debt. She poured a lot of money into the relationship. He shaped her into the actress she is today, but it was years before Jane broke free. It was around this time she became an anti-war activist. It was at this point where I lost some of the sympathy I had for Jane Fonda. She got out of a bad marriage, but left her daughter, Vanessa, behind to "find" herself. She went on a long tour protesting the Vietnam War. She's doing exactly what her parents did to her. Putting a career or in this case activism ahead of your child, something her daughter was angry about for years (Fonda confessed she thinks Vanessa is still angry to this day). You constantly seek your father's love and approval, but do nothing to avoid repeating his mistakes. Her son Troy, born during her second marriage, got more of her love and attention. She took him just about everywhere on her activist journey. Why put one child above the other?

Her second husband, Tom Hayden, turned her into a full-time activist and part-time actress. The acting roles she took during their marriage, which turned out to be some of her best, had to express a political message of some kind. Most of the money she earned at this time went towards funding his aspirations. Jane Fonda's career and reputation took a hit during the activist years. Henry Fonda, ever the lovable guy, didn't always agree with her politics because it also reflected negatively on his career.

The book is broken up into four sections, daughter, actress, movie star/sex symbol, and workout guru/tycoon wife. The "daughter" part was fascinating because it broke down the psyche of the Fonda family. The actress part of Jane Fonda was always wondering if her father thought she was good enough. The movie star/sex symbol part was a bit much for me. Who knew she had threesomes during her marriage to Vadim? Who knew she had relationships with gay men? It's a little more than I ever wanted to know, but kudos to Patricia Bosworth for being so detailed. I do wish the workout guru/tycoon wife part had been a little longer. Yes I wish a 500+ page book had been longer. Her marriage to Ted Turner seems like a footnote compared to the detail to about the other two. But that could also be because of confidentiality issues. Maybe Ted Turner didn't want to much detail out there, but again snippets of their sex life was included!!

There are so many layers to Jane Fonda. A flawed woman with a lot of issues, but Bosworth does her justice.

Rating: O.M.G.!!!

Note: I received a copy of the book from Authors On The Web in exchange for an honest review.

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