THE FONDAS: A Hollywood Dynasty by Peter Collier

THE FONDAS: A Hollywood Dynasty

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Scissors-and-paste bio of the Fonda dynasty, with no visible interviews and not one fresh idea; by the coauthor (with David Horowitz) of the earlier dynasty best-sellers The Rockefellers, The Kennedys, and The Fords. What's there to say after a spate of Fonda books when Collier turns out this tasteless retread of other writers' work? Only that he targets whatever dirt he can find and in no way gets to the heart of Henry, Jane, or Peter Fonda as people or matches Christopher Andersen's thoughtful and hard-digging Citizen Jane (p. 543). The story is this: Back in Omaha, young Henry had a domineering father, was excessively shy, accidentally found he could stand up for himself while on stage. Years of summer stock and small parts on the East Coast yielded up only a hit-and-miss marriage to tempestuous fellow actor Margaret Sullavan. Henry lost her to Broadway genius Jed Harris, followed her to Hollywood, and watched her star rise while he played humbler roles that eventually revealed that he had ""the great American face."" His second marriage, which produced Jane and Peter, ended with his wealthy wife Frances's suicide in a sanitarium. By that time, Jane and Peter had broken themselves against their father's emotionless exterior. Henry's four following marriages did little to get the blood flowing warmly among the Fondas. Only Jane's roping of Henry into playing her emotionless father in On Golden Pond gave them the breakthrough that knit the family. Meanwhile, Peter is seen on the downslide since his fabulous hit Easy Rider, while Jane's life with Roger Vadim and later Tom Hayden is covered routinely. Her work is slighted, and the best role of her career, in Harriet Arnow's The Dollmaker, in which she more or less played her father, is mentioned only as having been filmed. This is a book about actors? Wastepaper.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1990
Publisher: Putnam