Legendary actress Jane Fonda, whose film career spans over 50 years, has finally been honored with an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. Her name can now be included among a host of other celebrated AFI recipients, including her father, Henry Fonda, who received the award in 1978.
This year’s AFI 42nd Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony took place Thursday evening with a star-studded host of attendees. Guests and speakers included Fonda’s brother actor Peter Fonda, Jeff Daniels, Wanda Sykes, Sally Field, Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Cameron Diaz, Eva Longoria, Lilly Tomlin, and Sandra Bullock. Accolades also came in via a video called A Hymn to Her, which included testimonials from from Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave, and Annette Bening.
Michael Douglas presented the award to Fonda, at Fonda’s request. Douglas and Fonda worked together in the film The China Syndrome. Michael Douglas also received an AFI honor in 2009. He described Fonda as a one-of-a-kind actress, who multi-tasked as a mother, political activist, and fitness guru. Douglas also noted that Fonda was film industry royalty, by way of her talent, not her name.
Fonda has been nominated for an Academy Award seven times. She has won the award twice. In 1971 she won for her performance alongside Donald Sutherland in Klute. She also won in 1979 for her performance alongside Jon Voight in Coming Home.
The AFI lifetime achievement award honoree donned a black and white gown by fashion designer Vera Wang. Fonda’s son Troy Garity also spoke in praise of his 76-year-old mother. Garity first ribbed his mother about her activist years. He then went on to more seriously commend his mother on her commitment to her film endeavors, her work in fitness, and her heroic activism. Peter Fonda as well expressed his praises, noting that he could not be more proud of her, and that he knew their father would also be proud her accomplishments.
Fonda sat next to her life partner, record industry producer Richard Perry, as they listened to testimonials that paid of homage to Fonda’s film career as well as a bit of comic ribbing. A muscle-bound man dressed as an angel carried a Barbarella-clad Wanda Sykes out to center stage. Comedienne Sykes then proceeded to ask Fonda (in reference to Barbarella) “what the hell she was thinking.”
Film legend Meryl Streep took the stage and thanked Fonda for showing her the ropes. Streep’s first film was alongside Fonda in the 1977 film Julia. Another Academy Award winner, Sally Field, spoke fondly of Fonda and noted that Fonda was instrumental in encouraging Field to open up a production company at Fox. Actress-Comedienne Lily Tomlin gave testimony to Fonda’s generosity and lack of ego, citing their days working together on the film 9 to 5. Tomlin noted that Fonda readily gave her and Dolly Parton the best parts in the film.
The AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony honoring Fonda was taped and will be broadcast on TNTon June 14. A number of encore broadcasts will air on Tuner Classic Movies.
By Janet Walters Levite