Lincoln Cushing is the fountain of all wisdom when it comes to political posters. He recently posted about five posters related to Jane Fonda’s time in Berkeley. So – this is his fault. All his fault.
Jane Fonda and her daughter Vanessa, child of director Roger Vadim, moved to Berkeley in 1971.
Fonda married Vadim in 1965 at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.[
Vadim directed Fonda in an adaptation of La Ronde (1964).
It was based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play Reigen, which treats a succession of liaisons in 1913. “Reigen” means “rage” in German.
The film generated minor controversy as Jane Fonda was one of the first major American actresses to do a nude scene in a foreign film. The nude scene was only slightly more risqué than the photo used here.
Vadim devised a 1966 vehicle for Fonda, La Curee (The Game Is Over), based on a book by Émile Zola. Shot in French and English versions, it was very popular in France. In the U.S., not so much.
Dino de Laurentiis wanted Fonda to star in a science fiction sex comedy, Barbarella (1968). She agreed on the condition that Vadim could direct. The rest is schoolboy fantasy history.
Following this he directed Fonda in a segment of the three-part horror film Spirits of the Dead (1968) along with her brother Peter Fonda. The stories were drawn from the writings of Edgar Allan Poe; they were directed by European directors Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini.
In 1971, Fonda was shot in Steelyard Blues, directed by Alan Meyerson.
Donald Sutherland plays an ex-con with a passion for demolition derbies. Het violates his parole when confronted by a 1950 Studebaker, which This embarrasses his brother, a politically ambitious district attorney.
Jane Fonda plays a prostitute with an off-on relationship with Sutherland’s character.
The gang tries to get an old Consolidated PBY Catalina plane flying, and hilarity ensues.
While Fonda was working on Steelyard Blues at filming locations in Santa Rosa, Antioch, and Oakland, she and Vanessa lived at 3016 Bateman Street and Vanessa, then three, attended Blue Fairyland at 3031 Bateman.
Blue Fairyland was a free, cooperative nursery school. Country Joe McDonald created this website of Blue Fairyland Memories. The school was in some fashion affiliated with the Red Family commune.
Members of the Red Family included journalist Bob Scheer, his wife, political activist Anne Weills, and Tom Hayden a founder of SDS. This was a powerful trio of Left activists.
Fonda and Hayden met on Bateman Street, later marrying in January 1973 in Los Angeles in a ceremony officiated by Richard York, pastor of the Berkeley Free Church. I have written about York here.
Fonda’s radicalization was several years old when she came to Berkeley. In late 1970, she was arrested at the Cleveland airport where she had landed as part of a speaking tour against the war in Vietnam.
She was arrested for possession of drugs. The “drugs” were vitamins; all charges were dropped, but she left us a memorably righteous mug shot.
In July 1972, as President Nixon was winding down American military involvement in Vietnam, Fonda traveled to Hanoi where she began a two-week tour of North Vietnam. For this, she earned the unflattering nickname “Hanoi Jane.”
Speaking at Cal in January 1973, shortly after the Christmas, 1972 American bombing of Hanoi, Fonda called the bombing of Hanoi the “turning point in the air war” and declared that “Niixon’s air war has been lost.” When shed announced that 34 American B-52s had been shot down over North Vietnam, the crowd of students cheered.
On January 22, 1973, the Patrick Chenoweth Defense Fund held a rally at the Pauley Ballroom organized by Fonda.
The New York Times reported several months later: “A court‐martial board of three enlisted men and two officers acquitted Navy Fireman Patrick D. Chenoweth today on the charge of sabotage ‘in a time of war’ on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ranger. Fireman Chenoweth, 21 years old, of Puyallup, Washington., was accused of throwing a paint scraper and two metal bolts into the main reduction gears of the carrier while she was tied up at the Alameda Naval Air Station last July, causing $986,000 damage and delaying her departure to Vietnam for three and a half months.
Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and a collection of performers and musicians put together a touring satirical revue to perform at coffeehouses and parks near American army bases for G.I.’s opposed to the war in Vietnam. The tour was called Free (or Fuck) The Army tour. “FTA” was common slang among American soldiers in Vietnam.
Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, and others formed the Indochina Peace Campaign in late 1972 after a speaking tour in midwestern states designed to rally middle America against the war in Indochina and to stop Nixon’s reelection. After Nixon’s landslide victory against George McGovern, activists established IPC branches in battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Cities in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts also had IPC chapters. The organization’s headquarters, also known as the Resource Center, was located in Santa Monica, California. While each chapter’s politics conformed to local political culture, they still took strategic cues from the Resource Center.
Here Fonda was speaking at an Indochina Peace Campaign event at the Glide Memorial Church, San Francisco.
On February 4, 1974, 19-year-old heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment by a group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army.
The leftists who I know had no sympathy for the SLA, but there was sympathy to be found in Berkeley.
A Letter to the Editor if the Barb of March 1, 1974, attacked Fonda for her criticism of the SLA: “Various self-appointed spokespeople of rate left have competed for the chance to publicly denounce the S.L.A. Jerry Rubin and Jane Fonda do not speak for all ‘the New Left activists of the 1960s,’ however hard the media may strive to assign them that role. We are veterans of the New Left who support the S.L.A. Their actions have not been ‘fanatical,’ ‘desperate,’ or ‘immoral.'”
The subject of the S.L.A. came up again later in the year. The August 9, 1974 Barb reported: “Recently a news report stated that Jane Fonda was looking for scripts on the SLA, with her in the role of Tania. I sent off a note, and this was the reply: Dear Paul, I have not, in fact never did, consider making a film about the SLA. Not that there isn’t a film to be made, but I doubt this is a time when it is possibly to humanize terrorists for the American people,and I wouldn’t want to do it if they were to come off bad.
“I just turned down an offer to do the story of Diana Oughton (who blew herself up in the Greenwich Village townhouse in ’70 )for the same reason.”
Fonda was fierce in her devotion to and support of causes on the left – the early gay rights movement, the United Farm Workers, anti-nuclear power, the Black Panthers, and the Native American Indian occupation of Alcatraz which began on November 20, 1969. Her visit was appreciated: “‘She got on the Indian bandwagon, but did not come to Alcatraz empty-handed like a lot of big shots,’ a Blackfoot activist named Morris lated noted of Fonda. ‘She was an answer to the Alcatraz Indian prayers, giving us some light and refrigeration.’ Fonda subsequently visited Sacramento’s State Assembly to support a resolution to turn Alcatraz into a Native American cultural center. The measure passed but was later defeated in the Senate.”
In March or April, 1978, Cal’s Students for Economic and Racial Justice, and the Zimbabwe Medical Drive Coalition held an event on South African Liberation that featured Fonda as a speaker.
By the mid 1970’s, Fonda’s base entirely shifted to Santa Monica when Tom Hayden launched the Campaign for Economic Democracy. She didn’t leave us forever, though. Fonda came back to Berkeley to promote her 1977 movie Julia.
Julia is a 1977 American Holocaust drama based on a chapter from Lillian Hellman’s book Pentimento about the author’s relationship with a lifelong friend, “Julia”, who fought against the Nazis in the years prior to World War II.
The film stars Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Rosemary Murphy, Maximilian Schell and Meryl Streep (her film debut).
Jane Fonda has long-standing energy-policy cred.
She spoke at a “Sun Day” rally at Cal in 1978 in support of solar power.
A year later she starred in China Syndrome, that depicts the perils of nuclear power.
Fonda was back in the news with a Berkeley connection in 2004. Repbublican operatives altered a photo made by our own Ken Light of John Kerry to include Jane Fonda. Light is the Reva & David Logan Professor of Photojournalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
The photo claimed to show Senator Kerry and Jane Fonda speaking together at an anti-war rally.
The image is a composite of two different images: one of Kerry taken on June 13, 1971, at an anti-war rally in Mineola, New York and one of Fonda taken in August, 1972, speaking at a Miami Beach, Florida rally. The images were combined and then further altered to appear as if the combined image was from an old newspaper clipping. A caption was also added stating, “Actress And Anti-War Activist Jane Fonda Speaks to a crowd of Vietnam Veterans as Activist and Former Vietnam Vet John Kerry (LEFT) listens and prepares to speak next concerning the war in Vietnam (AP Photo).” The most prominent media outlet to publish the forgery was The New York Times, which cited the image in a Sheryl Gay Stolberg story on February 13, 2004.
This photo from a September 1970 anti-war rally organized by held by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania is believed to be authentic. John Kerry appears in the background of the photo directly above Jane Fonda’s head, sitting several rows behind her. Not so dramatic, is it?
Fonda spoke at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley in 2011 about her book Prime Time: Making the Most of Your Life. Ted Friedman wrote this article about the event for the Berkeley Daily Planet.
Fonda was a familiar neighborhood figure. She did her food shopping at the Berkeley Co-op on Telegraph and Ashby. When strangers told her she looked a lot like the actress, she replied “Oh, everyone says that.” Even back then she was health conscious, asking parent participants at Blue Fairyland to prepare fresh beet juice for her daughter.
Both Fonda and Hayden have returned to Berkeley from time to time. For her 73rd birthday, in 2011, Fonda dined with friends at Chez Panisse. Hayden once visited the house where Blue Fairyland had been, unexpectedly finding the original sign on the property. He asked the owner if he could keep it exclaiming, “I painted it!”
Contributed by Diana Kehlmann, 2012