JANE FONDA: An Intimate Biography by Bill Davidson

JANE FONDA: An Intimate Biography

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Warm, intimate biography of Jane Fonda by the author of the top-flight Spencer Tracy: Tragic Idol (1988). Knowing Jane but apparently without ever interviewing her for this bio, Davidson gets somewhat closer body Contact with the actress than does Christopher Andersen in Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda (reviewed above). Also, Davidson's wife had earlier twice interviewed Henry Fonda. All this generally summons up a kinder, if blander, portrait than Andersen's. Davidson says he has conflicting emotions about Jane, even anger at ""some of the dumb things she did,"" but his admiration for her bouncing back from a variety of disasters has led him into a soft-focus that finds him omitting such matters as daughter Vanessa's recent drug bust, and hinting that Jane and Tom Hayden may get back together (not likely by Andersen's more vivid account of the battle over their financial settlement). Davidson frames much of his book with Jane's 25-year history of bulimia, an illness she kept hidden from the press and most of her friends. From her earlier years, Jane thought she was chubby and chipmunk-checked and in her midteens fell into a vicious habit of overeating, vomiting, and oversleeping. This was tied into her difficulties with her father's coldness, his long hours on the set or absence from home, and her need for a father figure's guidance. This need also led her into her early dependence on Lee Strasberg and into love affairs and marriages with dominating men. Davidson skims over Jane's lesser plays and pictures, dismissing in a sentence or two perhaps a third of her work as unworthy, and even the films that he does give more attention to are discussed lightly or in less-than-satisfying detail. Davidson's Fonda comes off as a tremendously likable woman--but she is still alive and, unlike his Tracy bio, with its rich details of Tracy's binges, this tenderhearted portrait leaves one still hungry for the grip of Jane's fingers in the reader's fingers and a full outpouring. Nice, but not enough.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1990
Publisher: Dutton