Jane Fonda has always been a brave woman on a constant search for self-improvement. This attitude has resulted in a truly fascinating life. The daughter of Hollywood star Henry Fonda, Jane’s mother committed suicide when she was twelve, something that she would only find out a few months later by reading about it in a magazine.

After working briefly as a model, in the 1950s, Fonda followed in her father’s footsteps by joining the movie business. She worked for almost a decade in Hollywood and on Broadway before playing the lead in Barbarella (1968). This sexy sci-fi directed by her then-husband, the Frenchman Roger Vadim, was to be her big break. Among the many awards she has received during her long and successful career, Fonda has won two Oscars: one in 1971 for Klute and another in 1978 for Coming Home.


Although she has been a Hollywood star for many years, Fonda has always refused to submit to its rules, choosing instead to follow her heart and her strong political ideals. She was particularly involved in anti-war activism during the Vietnam War, even travelling to Hanoi to report on the US bombing of the city. Her opposition to the war saw her arrested several times, and for years the FBI kept her under surveillance under suspicion of being a communist.


In 1978, when looking for funding for her own non-profit organization for children, Fonda opened The Workout, a fitness studio that became an instant success. A couple of years on, she wrote Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, which was translated into more than fifty languages. Then came her video tape version of the book. With more than seventeen million copies sold, it became the biggest-selling VHS tape of all time and contributed to the birth of the home video business. Her series of workout videos were a worldwide phenomenon among women, who started “doing Jane” as a means to become more aware of their bodies and feel empowered.


Yet Jane Fonda has never been afraid of revealing her vulnerability, either. This is made apparent in her autobiography My Life So Far, published in 2005, and with the recent documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts. She candidly addresses, for example, her eating disorders – she suffered from bulimia and anorexia until her forties. She attributes these issues to the strict control she exercised over her body. 


After divorcing CNN founder Ted Turner, Fonda decided to lay roots in Atlanta, Georgia. Recently, she was treated for cancer, although she remains as gorgeous as ever. Like most women, Fonda grew up believing that in order to be loved she needed to be perfect. It was what she called the “disease to please.” But, she says, she finally discovered that she doesn’t need a man to define her.