Jane Fonda Consistently Downplayed Her Success While Married To Tom Hayden

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Jane Fonda, a seasoned Hollywood figure and lifelong activist, has consistently captured public attention with her complicated love life over the years. Fonda's first marriage to French director Roger Vadim concluded in 1973 after five years, and that same year, the iconic "Barbarella" actor married her second husband, activist Tom Hayden. The marriage lasted for 17 years, with the two divorcing in 1990. Fonda married her third and final husband, businessman Ted Turner, in 1991. They parted ways a decade later.

Despite her remarkable Hollywood career, marked by two Oscar victories, one in 1972 for "Klute" and the second in 1979 for "Coming Home," Fonda consistently downplayed her success while married to Hayden because he didn't enjoy the Hollywood lifestyle. "I wanted to play down the Hollywood part of me, so I didn't have [the Oscars] on display anywhere," Fonda shared with Dave Karger for his book, "50 Oscar Nights."

Notably, Fonda's marriage to Hayden coincided with her intense immersion into activism — she vigorously engaged in anti-war causes and passionately advocated against societal issues like race and gender discrimination. "I was drawn by her transformation from a Hollywood star to a political star," Hayden shared in a clip featured in HBO's documentary, "Jane Fonda in Five Acts" (via InStyle).

Jane Fonda wanted to prove to her husband that she didn't need a luxurious lifestyle

During her first Oscar win in 1972, Jane Fonda didn't have a particularly great time despite the great victory. According to Dave Karger's "50 Oscar Nights," the "Grace and Frankie" star was sick with the flu. After accepting the award, Fonda was overwhelmed with guilt backstage, feeling remorseful that she had won the coveted award while her father, the renowned actor Henry Fonda, had not received one by then.

Her second Oscar victory seemed to have brought a more joyful moment, with Fonda wearing a huge smile as she held onto the golden statue during backstage press photos. However, her happiness was tempered by her husband's lack of enthusiasm for her Hollywood fame. In a 2018 interview with The New Yorker, Fonda revealed that she "wanted to prove, to Tom and to myself, that I could do that, that I didn't need to live with privilege." Consequently, she chose to live with him and their children in a modest Santa Monica cabin, sharing a single mattress on the floor.

In retrospect, Fonda regrets nothing. "I learned all the things that I consider the most valuable from Tom," she told People in a 2023 interview. However, the star also noted, "My life would be very different if I'd noticed red flags."

Tom Hayden also 'hated' Jane Fonda's workout tapes

Tom Hayden not only disapproved of Jane Fonda's Hollywood success but also held disdain for her iconic workout videos that gained immense popularity in the 1980s. Fonda revealed in her interview with The New Yorker that Hayden disliked the workout videos, explaining, "He thought it was all about vanity. It was so much more than that." Despite the tape, titled "Jane Fonda's Workout," becoming one of the best-selling VHS tapes ever, with over 17 million copies sold globally, Hayden found it challenging to accept the success.

Fonda's workout tape was based on her best-selling book, "Jane Fonda's Workout Book," published a year earlier, in 1981. The book's success was another source of passive tension in their relationship, as none of Hayden's own books had achieved comparable success. "But he framed it and gave it to me, [signing] it, 'Congratulations, baby,'" Fond said.

However, the two ultimately split, as Fonda had no plans of abandoning her Hollywood career. "She felt the call of Hollywood — that was very jarring to me," Hayden shared in "Jane Fonda in Five Acts," per InStyle. He explained, "I wasn't ready to be the husband of somebody who was preoccupied with being an actress."