Home > The Most Influential Woman in America? Jane Fonda, Hollywood and 1970s Politics

The Most Influential Woman in America? Jane Fonda, Hollywood and 1970s Politics

With particular reference to several of her best-known films, Andy Willis will discuss Jane Fonda’s work in the 1970s with film historian Peter Krämer.

When, at the age of 34, Jane Fonda won a Best Actress Oscar for the noir thriller Klute (1971), it appeared to be the culmination of an impressive Hollywood career, which had begun in 1960 and included a wide range of memorable roles. But, amazingly, the best was yet to come. In the early 1970s Fonda reinvented herself as a political activist, becoming a leading figure in the anti-Vietnam war protests, an outspoken feminist and a campaigner for many other progressive causes. Courting controversy, she was one of the most hated public figures in the United States – and also one of the most admired. After several years, in which she mainly appeared in films outside the mainstream, in 1976 she announced her Hollywood comeback, and from 1977 to 1981 she starred in ten movies, half of which were produced by her own company, IPC Films. Almost all were both commercial and critical hits, and they were also closely aligned with the political agenda of the Campaign for Economic Democracy, a grassroots organisation founded by her then husband Tom Hayden. In many ways, then, Fonda managed to move radical politics to the centre of American culture.

Peter Krämer is the author or editor of ten books, several of which deal with American cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. His latest book is the edited collection The Hollywood Renaissance (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018).’

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