Jane Fonda began her Hollywood career as a sex siren and never thought she’d live very long. But the once fast-living actress turned her life around, became and early advocate of diet and exercise and is still going strong at age 80. She called it a “miracle,” she’s still working during an “Ellen show” interview.
Fonda starred in this year’s film “Our Souls at Night,” a romantic drama about combating loneliness in old age opposite Robert Redford. This year
she’s appearing in “Book Club,” a romantic comedy about four women who re-discover their sexuality.
“I didn’t think I’d live this long. If you told me when I was 20 or 30 that I would actually still be acting and still be active at 80, I would have said you’re out of your mind,” she told Ellen. “There’s no way. I didn’t think I’d live this long.”
Every day I wake up, I want to pinch myself. I feel very blessed. I’ve worked for it. I’ve tried hard to stay healthy. I thought I’d die lonely and probably from alcohol. The fact that I’m not an addict, I’m 80, I’m working. It’s just a miracle to me,” she added.
She debuted on the big screen in 1960 as a 23-year-old in the film “Tall Story,” a romantic comedy about relationships in college. She appeared steadily in films after that. She rocked the film world as a futuristic prostitute in the sci-fi comedy “Barbarella.” The following year she won accolades for “They Shoot Horse Don’t They?”
After a slew of nominations, she finally won a best actress Oscar for her role in the 1971 film “Klute,” a neo-noir crime-thriller directed and produced by Alan J. Pakula. She won her second best actress Academy Award for “Coming Home” in 1978.
She became politically active in the 1960s and became a major opponent of the Vietnam War. Her visit to North Vietnam in July 1972 earned her the eternal enmity of conservative war hawks, who claimed she was used as a propaganda tool.
“I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless,” she said in a 1988 interview with Barbara Walters.
Fonda, the daughter of celebrated actor Henry Fonda, was gripped by insecurities as a child and suffered from bulimia. Her mother, Frances Ford Seymour, committed suicide when Fonda was 12.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and underwent a lumpectomy. She’s been in remission ever since.
Fonda played a large part in launching the “fitness craze” in the 1980s with a series of videos with trainer Leni Cazden. She stressed aerobics and strengthening exercises. Her first video in 1982, “Jane Fonda’s Workout,” sold more than one million copies.
Now that she’s 89, Fonda says she’s learned not to “sweat the small stuff” now.
“It’s the getting wiser part, that’s pretty nice too. I don’t have as much ego stake and outcomes,” she told DeGeneres.
“If something doesn’t work out, then eh. Also, if you have a whole lot of time behind you and a little in front of you, as is the case with me, I can look back and say, ‘Woah I survived that.’ You know, friends have died, there’s been divorces, there’s been all kinds of difficult things but I survived. You don’t sweat the small stuff; you don’t make mountains out of mole hills.”
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