Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Hero Jane Fonda

"It's never too late--never too late to start over--never too late to be happy."--Jane Fonda, My Life So Far

Since I started blogging about the women I admire, I might as well bring up Jane Fonda.  She started influencing me way back when I was a flight attendant in my early 20s. I used to work the "red eye" flights round-trip between New York City and Los Angeles.

Even though I worked all night, with the three-hour time difference in L.A., I got up just in time to attend Jane Fonda's morning work-out classes that were within walking distance from my hotel. Eveytime I went there I found myself in a class with one celebrity or another. Once I worked out right next to Marie Osmond who was doing back-to-back classes to help shed her post-baby weight.

Another time some starlet came up to me and quipped with a British accent: "You are very pretty. What do you do?"

"I'm a flight attendant. And you?" I replied.

"I'm an actress, model, singer, dancer." She emphasized each of her occupations by cocking her head from side-to-side. Actress: her head bends to the left. Model: It cocks to the right. And back and forth again.

It was all I could do to stifle a laugh because her comment was so characteristically Hollywood, so I merely mentioned that all those jobs must keep her very busy.

Anyway, back to the classes. I was so addicted to them that I bought every single one of Jane Fonda's video tapes to work out in front of my TV back in New York City. As luck would have it,  I finally got to meet Jane. I was working First Class on a  727 plane from New York City to Chicago. Passengers started boarding, when in walks Jane Fonda with her son Troy and then-husband Tom Hayden. I was the only flight attendant serving first class, so I knew this was my golden opportunity to talk to her.

Back then I prided myself for shielding celebrities in First Class from intruders in coach so they could relax. While Jane's husband and son ate regular meals, Jane special ordered a fruit plate and only drank tea. She was reading the script for the movie The Morning After. Once everyone ate, and Jane stopped reading, I sheepishly approached her and professed how much I liked working out at her exercise studios. I asked her if she had plans to open any in New York City. She said yes, that was in the works. I started gushing about all her great movies and realized I was over-doing it and excused myself.

A year or so later I watched Jane's masterful acting in The Morning After co-starring Jeff Bridges. A few years ago I read her autobiography, My Life So Far and was moved at how courageous she was to question society about the Vietnam war. I was impressed at how she foregoed a movie-star lifestyle in favor of living simply to fund projects that she believed in.

Today when I see Jane Fonda walk the red carpet, I am amazed at how fabulous she looks at 74 years old.  Her grace and elegance have gotten the attention of heart throbs like George Clooney who said she was a knock-out at the Academy Awards.

I think to myself, that's how I want to look and act when I'm in 70s. Just the other night, I watched the movie Coming Home, which earned Jane an Oscar.  I enjoyed the movie not only for Jane's acting ability but because I knew she chose to participate in the film because it reflected what she stood for. Jane Fonda may have been controversial in her lifetime, but she always acted with the utmost integrity. She was never a bystander. Jane participated in life full throttle. Her actions stood behind her words.

Even though Jane has always treated her body like a sacred temple, In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and now joins many of us as survivors.

I was so happy to see Jane return to acting again back in 2005. When I saw Monster-in-Law I shed a tear because I thought we'd never see her in a movie again. I believe she has yet to show us some of her best work. But even if Jane Fonda never makes another movie, she continues to be a role model for me.   Be it the way she takes care of herself, the way she acts with dignity and grace or the way she uses her talent, Jane Fonda is everything I aspire to.


  1. Very glamorous post! And she does looks great at 74 (I didn't realize her age). May we be so lucky!

  2. I've always been a Jane Fonda fan too. I also had her work-out videos. I admire anyone who speaks and lives their truth. That's exactly what Jane Fonda does as far as I can tell. Must have been fun to meet her. Thanks for sharing about it.