Jane Fonda has lived a life full of controversy.
Turning her Oscar-winning acting career and platform into one of activism and fitness, she became known just as much for her off-screen career as she did on screen.
While her career was often mired down by her beliefs – leading her to take a 15-year break from 1990 to 2005, she’s become a vocal advocate for an active, fulfilling life in our Third Age with turns in Grace and Frankie, Book Club, and 80 for Brady.
Acting Ran in the Family
Born in 1937 to Hollywood legend Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda was exposed to the world of entertainment at a young age. She made her acting debut in the 1960 comedy Tall Story and quickly established herself as a leading lady, appearing in films like Cat Ballou, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, and Klute, for which she won her first Academy Award in 1972.
She starred opposite her father and Katherine Hepburn in the classic On Golden Pond and continued to have a steady career in acting.
But her acting was often marred by her activism, for better or worse.
Jane Fonda – the Activist
Fonda lent her efforts to a variety of causes, especially in the ‘60s and ’70s, but none were so infamous as her protests against the Vietnam War.
In 1972, she toured North Vietnam and tried to speak against the U.S. military policy in the country, encouraging soldiers to put down their weapons and think about their roles in the war.
But the worst came when a photograph was taken of her sitting on an anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi, making it look as though she were aimed at American planes.
Earning her the nickname “Hanoi Jane,” Fonda admits that she didn’t think much about how that photo would look when it was taken, calling it a mistake.
While she’s still very active, Fonda worked to change perceptions through the films she made rather than getting on the front lines.
Her fitness empire even began as a way to help fund her then-husband’s election campaign.
Fitness Pioneer and Aerobics Guru
Fonda opened her fitness studio in Beverly Hills in 1979, becoming a pioneer in how we viewed a healthy woman’s body.
Fonda’s workouts not only challenged what we thought fitness should look like for women but empowered them to unravel the misogynistic beliefs that were holding them back from walking into a gym and realizing their full physical potential.
Her videos have been remastered for DVD and digital release, allowing us all to enjoy her variety of programs including her Low Impact Workout that’s meant for those with injuries or just getting started with improving your fitness routines.
A True Triple Threat
Jane Fonda has lived 86 years that many of us would envy. Her focus on health and fitness means that she continues to be active in multiple aspects of her life.
She has transformed lives through her fitness programs, inspired social change through her activism, and captivated audiences with her performances.
Jane Fonda is an icon in every sense of the word, and her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.