Jane Fonda's Troubled Relationship with Her Parents Frances Ford and Henry Fonda
Jane Fonda, best known for “Klute” and “Coming Home,” has had a very successful life. However, she underwent some tragedies, including her mother’s death by suicide.
During a 2016 interview with The Guardian, the actress and activist talked about the most challenging times she has gone through so far. Apart from her mother’s death, she mentioned her troubled relationship with her father.
Jane Fonda on her mother’s death
Jane pointed out that her mother, Canadian-born socialite Frances Ford Brokaw, passed away aged 42 when Jane was only 12 years old. The actress explained that her mother had a mental illness, “what would today be called bipolar [disorder].”
Although dealing with her death was tough, Jane admitted that the difficulties were present even before that. Frances was “frequently institutionalized” due to her illness and was rarely present.
The actress added that, when a parent is not around, the child assumes it’s their fault and that they are “not lovable,” which was exactly how she felt.
It was especially difficult for her because, months before France’s death, she went to the house with a nurse. Jane, who was upstairs playing with her brother Peter, was asked to go downstairs and see her mother, but she refused.
She blamed herself
Unfortunately, it was the last opportunity she had to see Frances, who died by suicide on her 42nd birthday.
Jane made clear that there are always two ways of dealing with challenging situations: people can either believe they are “unlovable” and feel guilty for the rest of their lives or understand that their parent was suffering from something that made them choose that path.
“Dealing with what happened to my mother isn’t over – it’s still going on because life is a journey towards wholeness. Living a whole, good life doesn’t just happen – it requires intention,” the “Fun with Dick and Jane” star said.
Jane remarked that people have to decide whether they want to be a victim for the rest of their lives or do something about it. She finally said that once they can look back with an open heart, they can forgive and understand.
She forgave herself years later
Looking back with different eyes was exactly what Jane did after she learned from the institution Frances was in that she had been sexually abused. Once she found that out, the actress wanted to “take her in my arms and tell her how sorry I was.”
At that point, Jane understood that Frances’ death had nothing to do with her and stopped blaming herself.
Jane’s relationship with Henry Fonda
About her relationship with her father, Henry Fonda, Jane said that people should think of the character he played on the movie “On Golden Pond.”
In it, Henry played Norman Thayer Jr., a man who didn’t know how to express his feelings or emotions. According to Jane, her father was just like that. She added that Henry used acting as a mask to hide his genuine emotions.
The actress said that Henry was the reason she became an activist. Some of the characters that he loved the most used to speak up for justice. Since she wanted him to love her, Jane tried to copy their righteousness by doing good deeds.
When Jane began with her activism, he thought she was a “foolish” and “frivolous” person. Thankfully, Henry eventually felt proud of her but never said anything directly to her.
“Some time ago someone sent me an interview he did on British TV, and he said the most wonderful things about me. I cried so hard watching it because he never said those things when we were together,” the actress added.
The things Jane would have like to get from her father
In a different interview with Hollywood Reporter, Jane admitted that Henry didn’t give her advice on the entertainment industry even though she would have loved it.
She pointed out that Henry was a loner who was not a “Hollywood insider” and never talked about the business with her. It was one of the reasons she didn’t know that Hollywood is built on relationships.
Jane finally added that her father never encouraged her or her brother, Peter, who sadly passed away in August 2019, to become actors. However, she didn’t do the same with her son, Troy.
When he was 13 years old, he worked in a play in which he portrayed a gay tango dancer. At that point, Jane saw potential in him and told him that she would always support him if he wanted to follow in her footsteps.
At the moment, Troy is 46 years old and, in 2003, he was nominated to a Golden Globe for his performance on “Soldier’s Girl.”
Jane, on the other hand, is 81 years old and keeps focused on her career. From 2015, she has been portraying Grace Hanson on “Grace and Frankie.”
Apart from that, she has voiced over a character on “Elena of Avalor,” the Disney animated show, from 2017.
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