Jane Fonda's career has spanned nearly six decades over which she's become known as one of Hollywood's most controversial and beloved stars. Jane was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2021 Golden Globes on Feb. 28, and to celebrate, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at her life and career in photos. Keep reading to learn more about this legendary actress and activist's family, loves, greatest roles and more…
Born Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda on Dec. 21, 1937, to Hollywood actor Henry Fonda and his wife, Frances Ford Seymour, the future Jane Fonda was the couples' first child and, to adoring fans, seemingly the apple of her famous father's eye. Three years later, Jane's little brother, Peter Fonda (who also grew up to become an actor), was born. Jane — seen here with her dad in 1944 shortly after he completed two years in the Navy during WWII — once revealed that he was actually "cold and distant" to his kids. In 1950, their mother committed suicide, which was a factor in Jane developing a childhood eating disorder.
Jane Fonda spent much of her young life away from home studying at a boarding schools before attending college at Vassar. In this July 1959 photo, a 21-year-old Jane is seen working as a model, something she did for a brief period of time before eventually deciding to launch a career in acting.
Jane Fonda's first big-screen appearance was in the 1960 farcical comedy "Tall Story." In the film, Jane played June Ryder, a college student whose boyfriend (played by Anthony Perkins) wants to propose. The same year, Jane made her Broadway debut in "There Was a Little Girl." Jane was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance and was again nominated in 1962 for a Golden Globe for "Tall Story."
In 1965, Jane Fonda married French screenwriter and film director Roger Vadim. The couple, seen here in 1968, met when Jane was in Paris in 1964 filming "Joy House."
In 1968 — along with debuting one of her best known films, "Barbarella" — Jane Fonda also gave birth to her and Roger Vadim's first child, a little girl named Vanessa Vadim. Not long after Vanessa's birth, Roger and Jane's marriage began to fall apart.
In 1969, Jane Fonda starred alongside Michael Sarrazin in the drama "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Jane's role as Gloria earned her the first of several best leading actress Oscar nominations throughout her lifetime.
Feeling a desire to find herself and immerse herself in causes, Jane Fonda became radicalized by 1970. Leaving her husband, Roger Vadim, Jane (who'd also made the decision to leave their daughter Vanessa in his care) joined the Black Panthers as well as Native American protesters, to the ire of FBI and law enforcement officials. In this November 1970 photo, Jane is seen being handcuffed by an officer at a Cleveland airport on charges of drug smuggling and assault, which were later dropped.
By 1971, Jane Fonda — though still legally married to Roger Vadim — had moved on with her life. After meeting Donald Sutherland on the set of their film "Klute," the two began a short-lived love affair. Donald was so smitten with Jane, he joined her in protests around the country, including at this 1971 anti-Vietnam demonstration at the New York Philharmonic. But their romance didn't last long and by 1972, Jane was seeing other men.
On April 10, 1972, Jane Fonda won her first Academy Award, taking home the best leading actress prize for her work in the mystery-drama "Klute." That same year, she also won a Golden Globe for her performance.
In July 1972, Jane Fonda embarked on a two-week tour of North Vietnam during the end of the Vietnam War, which resulted in her making a decision she would regret for the rest of her life. Although Jane had already been actively protesting the United States's involvement in Vietnam, it was her arrival in Hanoi that triggered an immense backlash from veterans and military supporters. During the trip, Jane was photographed wearing a helmet alongside Vietnamese military troops inside an anti-aircraft gun vehicle, earning her the disfavor of Americans and the nickname "Hanoi Jane." Branded a traitor, Jane was wrongfully accused of helping the North Vietnamese military intercept messages from prisoners of war, which only added to her unpopularity back home. Years later, Jane would reflect on this moment, admitting it was a terrible decision on her part. Of that photo, Jane said she remembers laughing and singing with her tour guides before being nudged into the anti-aircraft vehicle where the photos were taken and wasn't even aware of what was happening until it was too late.
In this photo from 1973, Jane Fonda is seen with her second husband, political activist Tom Hayden. On Jan. 16 that year, Jane finally divorced her first husband, Roger Vadim, only to marry Tom three days later on Jan. 19. Jane met Tom during anti-war protests and was immediately drawn to Tom's radical nature.
On July 7, 1973, Jane Fonda gave birth to her second child, Troy Garity, who was her first child with new husband Tom Hayden. In this Oct. 26, 1973, photo, Jane is seen showing off her baby boy to peace activist and noted pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock.
Jane Fonda's performance alongside Vanessa Redgrave in the 1977 drama "Julia" earned her a third Oscar nod for best lead actress.
On April 9, 1979, Jane Fonda won the Academy Award for best lead actress for her performance in the 1978 romantic war drama "Coming Home." It would be her second Oscar win after four total nominations. Jane's co-star, Jon Voight, also won the Oscar that night for best lead actor.
In this March 1982 photo, Jane Fonda poses alongside her father, Henry Fonda, who won the Oscar for best lead actor for the film they both starred in that year, "On Golden Pond." Jane had also been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in the film (for best supporting actress). Although Jane and her father had a complicated relationship throughout her life, she's said that making the movie with him — she played his character's daughter — was a "blessing" that allowed her to say things to her father in character that she never could have said in real life, giving her a sort of "resolution." It was the last film Henry would make and on Aug. 12, 1982, he died from chronic heart disease at age 77.
Jane Fonda is seen here in 1983 at a Beverly Hills dance studio, where she was teaching an aerobics class — launching what would become the first of her wildly successful workout videos. The idea for the exercise tapes came two years earlier when the actress published "Jane Fonda's Workout Book" detailing her own health and wellness routine.
In this 1990 picture, Jane Fonda is seen with Robert De Niro in their 1990 film "Stanley & Iris." After making the movie about a widow who falls in love with a cook who can't read, Jane began a 15-year break from the movie industry following her divorce from second husband Tom Hayden that same year. Of her self-imposed exile from Hollywood, Jane has said, "I was really unhappy. I sat on the edge of my hotel room bed and I was trying to envision a future for myself, and I couldn't… so I thought, 'Well, I'm just going to stop.'"
Jane Fonda looked adoringly at her newest husband, CNN founder Ted Turner, at their Dec. 21, 1991, wedding in Florida. Jane had already taken a leave of absence from the limelight, which made it easier for her to commit to her newest role as wife to one of the most powerful media moguls in the country. Their marriage lasted for 10 years before they officially divorced in 2001.
After a 15-year break from making movies, Jane Fonda made an explosive return in the 2005 rom-com "Monster-in-Law" alongside actress and singer Jennifer Lopez. The film, about a bride-to-be who meets her fiancé's jealous, scheming mom, was a breakout hit for Jane, who proved to fans and critics that she hadn't lost her spark in her time away from the big screen. That same year, Jane published her first memoir, "My Life So Far," which offered a candid and insightful look at the experiences and journeys that had shaped her life.
In 2009, Jane Fonda began dating record producer Richard Perry. The couple were all smiles in this Feb. 22, 2012, photo taken at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in West Hollywood. They dated for eight years before officially breaking up in January 2017. Since then, Jane has said she's "closing down the shop" and is happy to live the rest of her life without a man.
In 2012, Jane Fonda joined the cast of HBO's "The Newsroom" in a recurring role. On the series, which ran until 2014, Jane played Leona Lansing, media mogul and head of a cable news network — someone not unlike her last husband, Ted Turner. Jane's performance earned her a guest actress Primetime Emmy nomination in both 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, Jane Fonda signed up for the role of a lifetime playing Grace Hanson alongside Lily Tomlin on the Netflix original series "Grace and Frankie." The show, about two septuagenarians who find out their husbands have been romantically involved with one another for two decades, became a huge hit for the network and the stars, relaunching both women's careers as top-billed actresses in Hollywood and earning Emmy nominations for both.
In 2017, after taking two years off from making films, Jane Fonda returned to the big screen alongside fellow legend Robert Redford in the heartfelt drama "Our Souls at Night." The movie about two widows who find comfort in each other showed that Jane had truly embraced her new identity as one of Hollywood's most talented, versatile seniors.
In 2018, Jane Fonda starred alongside Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen in the hilarious big-screen romantic-comedy "Book Club." In the film, Jane played Vivian, a rich, beautiful older woman who has trouble committing to one man.
In July 2018, Jane Fonda attended HBO's Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour day with director and producer Susan Lacy where she discussed the documentary "Jane Fonda in Five Acts," which premiered on HBO that September. The film explores Jane's life from childhood through her early days as an onscreen sex symbol to her later turn as a political activist and, eventually, a brave and beautiful 80-year-old woman who's redefining what it means to be an actress "of a certain age."
Jane Fonda has continued to be an outspoken environmentalist. In March 2020, she was responsible for bringing the Fire Drill Friday rallies — a celebrity-based movement she founded with Greenpeace to advocate for the environment — to Los Angeles. This wasn't the first time Jane passionately protested for the cause: In October 2019, the activist-actress was arrested three weeks in a row for protesting climate change at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and a fourth time in November 2019. In September 2020, Jane released the book "What Can I Do?: The Truth About Climate Change and How to Fix It," a call to action that incorporates interviews with climate scientists as well as ways that people can help mitigate the looming disaster.
On Feb. 28, 2021, Jane Fonda delivered a rousing, passionate speech as she received a lifetime achievement honor, the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills.