JANE FONDA by Michael Freedland


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Pretty much a scissors-and-paste bio with few interviews and little new to say; nor has Freedland's writing itself improved greatly since his ho-hum gallop over the peaks of 1986's Shirley MacLaine. Jane's biggest bug was Dad, who was chary with kisses and warmth on the home front. On stage and screen he was a creature of towering professionalism, but he had little magnetism for Jane and younger brother Peter, nor for second wife Frances, a socialite with little interest in theater. Dad still enjoyed the company of his first wife, Margaret Sullavan, who lived nearby with her now-famous daughter (Brooke Hayward) by Hollywood agent Leland Hayward, much to Frances' regret. And he also enjoyed the attention of young actresses. Jane and Peter thought their move East, when Dad was monumentally successful on Broadway in Mister Roberts, would improve their ties. But home all day, Dad was cool as ever--and they had moved almost next door to Maggie and Leland in Greenwich, Conn. Soon Dad had his own apartment in Manhattan, was seeing soon-to-be third wife Susan Blanchard. Frances went into a sanitarium to pull herself together, and cut her throat there instead. Dad married Susan, who was only ten years older than Jane and adored by her stepdaughter. Meanwhile, Jane began acting in school, then later at Vassar and on the straw hat circuit, even playing on stage with her father. Dad again spoke to her reservedly about her acting, which hurt Jane. In fact, they never were close until his last picture, On Golden Pond, which they were in together and during which he at last began breaking loose with pointers. Jane had run through many lovers, including a Greek Svengali, then married French director Roger Vadim (they were both unfaithful, apparently), and later married activist Tom Hayden, going from sex goddess to Jane of Arc. Jane herself lends this book what life it has, although Freedland is aswim with pleasantry.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's