Jane Fonda, 1957 (photo by Mark Shaw)
Interview as 1960s time capsule (also, why one should always think twice before accepting a gift from Dennis Hopper):
"Two hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Jane Fonda was coiled like Cleopatra’s asp on the living room sofa of her father’s lush townhouse. That afternoon she learned she had won the NY Film Critics Award for best actress of 1969 for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Optimism was high. So was Jane. “You don’t mind if I turn on, do you?” she asked impishly. Then her long fingernails carefully rolled the tobacco out of a Winston cigarette and replaced the ordinary old stuff that only causes cancer with fine gray pot she had just brought back from India? Morocco? She couldn’t remember; all she knew was it wasn’t that tacky stuff they mix with hay in Tijuana, this was the real thing.
Then she lay back on the sofa, inhaled a lung full of dreams. “I’m very optimistic about the world tonight. I wonder if, at 10pm on New Year’s Eve in 1959, people looked back on the 50’s and thought their decade was as productive as ours has been. I don’t think so. It was the end of a time when people had been fed sleeping pills by Eisenhower. Things are more exciting now. We’ve stepped on the moon! People are more alive in every walk of life. Take a simple thing like turning on – doctors, lawyers, politicians – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t turn on.”
There was a noise on the stairs. It was her father Henry Fonda, looking straight and spruce enough to be the conductor of the Yale Glee Club and his pretty wife Shirlee, the fifth Mrs. Fonda.
Jane leaped up and waved her arms frantically to blow the pot smoke out of the room. “This reminds me of the times I used to clean this place on my hands & knees after my parties before my father came home. If only he knew how many bodies have passed out on this floor.”
The Fondas toasted the New Year with champagne & Jane decided to call Peter [Fonda] in New York. They all sang “Happy Decade” to Peter and after they hung up, Jane rolled her eyes. “Boy, was he stoned!”
Henry Fonda saw it all clear and made a mental association. “Have you seen Dennis Hopper lately?”
“I was at his ex-wife’s house just before Christmas,” said Jane, “and you know what he gave his daughter? A Polaroid camera box filled with hair. He had cut his hair off and wanted his child to have it as a Christmas gift! It wasn’t even clean – just dirty, matted hair. So I don’t know what kind of scene he’s into now.”
The subject turned to 1970. Biafra. Slum housing. Strikes. Corruption in Congress. “We’ll always be pouring money into military wars,” said Jane glumly. “I’m not happy about the political situation either.”
“Where are we all headed?” asked Mrs. Fonda. “The Far, Far Right,” answered her husband. Jane looked dour. “Come to think about it,” she said, a few minutes into the beginning of her brand new decade, “I take back what I said earlier about the world getting better. The only thing I’m optimistic about is me.”
-excerpted from Rex Reed’s New York Times Fonda profile, December 1969
Henry Fonda in his death row cell in You Only Live Once (1937, dir. Fritz Lang)
“You Only Live Once is the story of a man who tries to live an honest life. He is pursued, fighting alone against the menacing power of a society he must fight.
To fight, that is what counts. If we think there is the smallest chance to succeed, we must continue to do what we believe is good. Perhaps this is a sort of martyrdom, even if I don’t believe it, but it is the essence of life, fighting for the causes we believe to be right.
That is truly the problem that has always interested me—not obsessed or possessed me, because I was possessed only once—that’s all, in one way or another, it is inevitable. You get caught in the works, and you can’t escape. But aside from that, what I always wanted to show and define is the attitude of struggle that must be adopted in the face of destiny. Whether or not the individual wins this fight, what counts is the fight itself, because it is vital.”
-Fritz Lang, quoted in Fritz Lang: Interviews
Peter Fonda (with Edward G. Robinson Billboard) by Dennis Hopper, 1965
"I had no idea who Henry Fonda was. He wasn’t around the house much and didn’t communicate much. Of course you know my mother. She slit her throat with a razor."