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This June the American Film Institute (AFI) pays homage to Jane Fonda bestowing upon her the 42nd AFI Life Achievement Award in a gala tribute in Los Angeles for her contribution to the film industry.
Born in New York in the winter of 1937, Jane Fonda is part of an American acting dynasty. While others might have been defined by their place in the family tree, as daughter of an American screen legend Henry Fonda 12 Angry Men (1957), The Wrong Man (1956), and the wife of a famous director, Fonda carved her own unique path to stardom with lead roles in over 40 films over the course of her career. Joining the Actors Studio in 1958 she made her screen debut opposite Anthony Perkins in Tall Story (1960). Her acceleration to fame came in the 1960s with films such as Cat Ballau (1965) and Barbarella (1968), the highly-sexed French science fiction movie based on the comics of Jean-Claude Forest, directed by her husband at the time Roger Vadim. However, it was during the 1970s that her on screen talent was truly applauded winning two Academy Awards for ‘Best Actor’ in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978).
Off screen, Jane Fonda has been a writer, fashion model, political activist and famously a pioneer of the 1980s exercise video. Recently the industrious Fonda had a 15-year break from acting, returning at the age of 65. She currently appears in the HBO series The Newsroom.
The AFI award is presented to Fonda exactly 36 years after her father received the accolade, prompting an emotional acceptance: “I burst into tears. It’s the biggest honor. Bette Davis asked me to present it to her, many years ago in the 1970s. Barbara Stanwyck asked me to present it to her. And then, of course, my dad received it. I never thought it would happen to me.”