Jane Fonda: Hollywood Royalty Gets AFI Life Achievement Award And Follows In Father Henry’s Footsteps
It didn’t take long to bring up the controversial side of Jane Fonda during AFI‘s Lifetime Achievement Award tribute Thursday night. AFI Board Of Trustees Chairman Howard Stringer addressed the elephant in the room almost immediately upon taking the Dolby Theatre stage: “What not a lot of people know is that Jane Fonda attended the very first AFI tribute in 1973 to director John Ford. She didn’t actually make it into the ballroom that night because she was out front picketing. That’s right, she was there to protest the appearance of one of that night’s presenters, Richard Nixon. Jane, what are we going to do with you?” he said to much knowing laughter and applause. A little while later, AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale picked up on the theme. “Yes, Jane picketed the AFI Life Achievement Awards. But it wasn’t the first time that she’d marched on AFI,” he said. “Some years earlier outside the gates of the AFI conservatory there was a protest led by Jane and another Life Achievement recipient, Shirley MacLaine. They were there to draw attention to the lack of women in roles in the AFI Conservatory and they were right. Their effort led to the establishment of the AFI Directing Workshop for women which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary. And they also helped to ensure women were admitted to the AFI Conservatory where women have flourished over the years.”
But as it became abundantly clear this evening was much more than about Fonda’s well-known activism. It was about a film career that has brought her two Oscars from seven nominations — that started in 1960 with Tall Story and is still going strong all the way up to next September’s This Is Where I Leave You. Both are from Warner Bros and both show the remarkable career journey this daughter of a very famous star, Henry Fonda, and sister of another twice-nominated actor/writer/producer Peter Fonda, has taken. Among studio heads that included 20th’s Jim Gianopulos, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton and Disney’s Alan Horn, Warners’ Kevin Tsujihara was also there.