About My New Book: Jane Fonda


JANE FONDA: The Private Life of a Public Figure

Distinguished celebrity biographer and Vanity Fair contributing editor
Bosworth (Marlon Brando, 2001, etc.) recounts the life story of an American icon in all its heady—and at times, unabashedly scandalous—glory. Ten years in the making, the book is based in exhaustive and meticulous research as well as a friendship the author began with Fonda in the late 1960s when they were both students studying at the Actors Studio in New York. Bosworth divides Fonda’s life into five distinctive stages, naming each after the “archetype” Fonda embodied during those phases: daughter, actress, movie
star/sex symbol, political activist and workout guru/tycoon wife. With
consummate skill and insight, the author follows Fonda through a childhood that
included tortured relationships with an emotionally unavailable father, Henry
Fonda, and a troubled mother who committed suicide at age 42. As young
adult, Fonda’s dynamism drove her toward defining herself as an actress-artist
(rather than her father’s actress daughter). At the same time, a need for
quasi-paternal control caused her to fall into Svengali-like relationships with
men—most notably, director Roger Vadim and activist Tom Hayden. In the
early ’70s, Fonda’s rebelliousness caused her to move toward the political left
and speak out against the Vietnam War. As a way to help fund Hayden’s
political ambitions, Fonda began a workout studio in the ’80s that evolved into a
multimillion-dollar industry. No longer the sexpot, she was now an Academy
Award–winning feminist-actress who took pride in “empowering women to be in
charge of their bodies.” Bosworth’s coverage of Fonda’s apparent backslide
into the Stepford-esque wife of media tycoon Ted Turner is not nearly as
in-depth as that she gives to the other phases of her colorfully tumultuous
history. But this does not take away from her total effort, which is as epic
as the life she chronicles. Reading to savor.  – Kirkus Reviews