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Vanessa Vadim and Jane Fonda. | Source: Getty Images
Vanessa Vadim and Jane Fonda. | Source: Getty Images

Vanessa Vadim Is an Activist Like Her Famous Mother – 5 Facts about Jane Fonda's Oldest Daughter

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud
Dec 05, 2022
12:03 P.M.

Vanessa Vadim comes from a long line of Hollywood royalty. Unlike many celebrity offsprings, Vanessa chose not to follow her famous mother into the entertainment industry, at least not in front of the cameras.

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Vanessa Vadim is the daughter of legendary actress and activist Jane Fonda and the late French director Roger Vadim. Growing up with celebrity parents appeared to be a less-than-ideal experience for Vanessa.

While her mother has received endless praise, accolades, and recognition as one of Hollywood's most iconic actresses, Jane struggled on the motherhood front, putting a strain on their mother-daughter bond. However, their relationship evolved for the better over time.

Vanessa Vadim and honoree Jane Fonda attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Vanessa Vadim and honoree Jane Fonda attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Vanessa is the eldest child of Jane and the late French filmmaker. She is one of her famous mother's two children from previous relationships.

Rather than following in her mother's footsteps and becoming an actress, Vanessa inherited her mother Jane's passion for activism, which she has also instilled in her own children.

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Jane Fonda and her daughter Vanessa Vadim attend the Henry Fonda Centennial Celebration and the US Postal Service's ceremony for the Henry Fonda commemorative stamp held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on May 20, 2005, in Los Angeles, California.  | Source: Getty Images

Jane Fonda and her daughter Vanessa Vadim attend the Henry Fonda Centennial Celebration and the US Postal Service's ceremony for the Henry Fonda commemorative stamp held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on May 20, 2005, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Vanessa Vadim – Bio, Age, Family

Vanessa was born in Paris, France, on September 28, 1968. She was the product of Jane's first marriage to Roger Vadim, with whom the actress was married from 1965 to 1973.

Vanessa has an extensive family tree. After her parents' divorce, she became the stepdaughter of Jane's husbands: Tom Hayden and Ted Turner, and Roger's wives: Catherine Schneider, Annette Stroyberg, Brigitte Bardot, and Marie-Christine Barrault.

Jane Fonda carries daughter Vanessa Vadim beside Roger Vadim by the steps of a private plane in 1968 in France. | Photo: Getty Images

Jane Fonda carries daughter Vanessa Vadim beside Roger Vadim by the steps of a private plane in 1968 in France. | Photo: Getty Images

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Vanessa has three half-siblings on her paternal side: Nathalie, Christian, and Vania Vadim; one half-brother on her maternal side: Troy Garity; and two step-siblings from her father Robert's last marriage: Ariane and David Toscan Du Plantier.

Vanessa is also the granddaughter of the 1930s Hollywood actor Henry Fonda, better known for classic films such as "12 Angry Men" and "On Golden Pond." Her uncle Peter Fonda and cousin Bridget Fonda were also renowned actors.

Jane Fonda sits with her daughter Vanessa Vadim at their home veranda in 1975 in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

Jane Fonda sits with her daughter Vanessa Vadim at their home veranda in 1975 in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

Vanessa's Complicated Relationship with Jane

Although Jane and Vanessa are very close in the present, their relationship didn't start on the right foot. After giving birth to her daughter, Jane suffered from post-partum depression.

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Jane later struggled to embrace her role as a mother. She chose to entrust her daughter's care to a nanny and her husband, Roger, rather than care for her daughter herself.

"I just felt that I had failed—that nothing was turning out the way it was supposed to, not the birth, not the nursing, not my feelings for my child or (it seemed to me) hers for me," Jane said.

Vanessa Vadim, honoree Jane Fonda, Simone Bent and actor Troy Garity attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda on June 5, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Vanessa Vadim, honoree Jane Fonda, Simone Bent and actor Troy Garity attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda on June 5, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Jane was often away from home, whether it was for work or because she wanted to be by herself, fleeing from her husband and their baby girl.

Later, after she divorced Robert in 1973, Jane's activism for the anti-Vietnam war movement eventually kept her away from a young Vanessa.

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Jane stated on several occasions that she regretted not spending enough time with her daughter and blamed her lousy parenting, partly because she was raised by a governess when her mother died.

Jane Fonda speaks to soldiers at a park in Vietnam in 1972. | Source: Flickr.

Jane Fonda speaks to soldiers at a park in Vietnam in 1972. | Source: Flickr.

Although Jane admitted that she did not know how to become a "better parent," she also believed it was not too late to relearn parenting, so she "studied" how to become one. She added:

"I am trying to make up for what I didn’t know before."

She went on to explain that she wanted to be surrounded by her family on the day she would die. Although it has been a work in progress, Jane and Vanessa are now in a better place.

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Vanessa Vadim's Husband and Children

In 2010, Jane took to her blog to share the big news of Vanessa's wedding. She revealed that Vanessa married Paul Van Winkle in a "lovely and spiritual ceremony" in St. Tropez at the home of Roger's fourth wife, Catherine.

Vanessa, like her mother, has broken the law before, albeit in a different context.

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However, by 2017, Vanessa and Paul were already divorced, as she described herself as a single mother living in Atlanta in an interview with the Daily Beast.

Vanessa has two children, a son named Malcolm and a daughter named Viva. Her children were from two previous relationships, not from her marriage to Paul.

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Vanessa's Career and Activism

Vadim graduated with honors from Brown University in Providence. She also attended New York University (NYU), where she took a master's program in English and creative writing and a master of fine arts in film and television.

However, Vanessa left NYU to co-found MayDay Media, a non-profit documentary production company, with which she started taking steps into the industry.

She worked as a writer, producer, director, and editor in several short films and documentaries, including "The Last Party," "Blue is Beautiful," "The Quilts of Gee's Bend," and a documentary about her mom titled "Jane Fonda in Five Acts."

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Aside from her work behind the cameras, Vadim is also an outspoken environmental activist and was a syndicated columnist for Mother Nature Network.

Her column, "Ask Vanessa," tackled different topics, from the environmental impact of food production and pharmaceuticals to the toxic fallout from fireworks and sustainable adult toys.

Vanessa's Instagram account shows that she's also a talented photographer and artist. She enjoys making collages and handmade goods and sharing her perception of the world with her followers.

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Family's Encounters with the Law

Fonda has never been one to shy away from the spotlight when it comes to breaking the law. As a result of her participation in public demonstrations, she has been arrested several times.

One of her notable arrests was in Washington in November 2019, when she took part in a protest against inaction on climate change called "Fire Drill Fridays," a movement organized by the group Green Peace.

Jane Fonda arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019, in Washington, D.C. | Source: Getty Images

Jane Fonda arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019, in Washington, D.C. | Source: Getty Images

She had been detained four times in the eight weeks since the protest began. The courageous actress had no second thoughts about participating in the demonstration.

In an interview with CNN, Jane stated that being arrested for civil disobedience "felt good." Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish activist, influenced the Hollywood star's position on climate change.

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It appears that being fearless runs in Jane's family. On Instagram, Vanessa posted pictures and videos of her children and their grandmother Jane getting arrested at a climate protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

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The photos showed Vanessa's children Malcolm and Viva being handcuffed and escorted off the stairs. Vanessa wrote in her post that she was a "proud momma" of her kids. In a separate post, Vanessa shared that she was arrested a few days earlier in the protest.

Vanessa, like her mother, has broken the law before, albeit in a different context. Vanessa, then a college student, was arrested in 1989 for alleged involvement in banned substances carried by a friend in Manhattan.

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Although police found no evidence she was involved, they charged Vanessa with obstructing an arrest, loitering, and disorderly conduct. But the charges were eventually dropped later.

Fonda reportedly expressed no anger toward Vanessa and even came to her defense, saying that she was a good daughter, a serious student and that she was proud of and stood by her.

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Like Jane Fonda, the latter's ex-husband defended Vanessa following the arrest. Robert expressed confidence that his daughter had done nothing wrong.

It appears Vanessa's family is not one to tolerate injustice. Now that Jane, Vanessa, and her children are all working together to fight the effects of climate change, there is no doubt that their relationship will grow even stronger.

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