Jane Fonda: ‘I’ve made a real point of cozying up to death and making it a friend’

So far I’ve only seen the first episode of Frankie and Johnnie, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s show on Netflix. I watched it with my mom and she related to it quite a bit as she’s in her early 70s. It was funny and cute and I plan on watching more episodes. My mom watched the rest without me and she does that because she’s retired and gives zero f*cks. She’s not inconsiderate, she just does what she wants at this point in her life. That’s the impression I get of Fonda, 78, and Tomlin, 76. The two gave a joint interview to AARP Magazine. It’s hard to figure out what to excerpt because they both say such interesting, quotable things. They don’t care any more what we think and they have a lot of wisdom to share. I want to figure out how to fast forward to this attitude without having to wait another 30 years.

Jane is sorry for posing on an antiaircraft gun
I’m not someone who dwells on regrets, but it was a terrible mistake sitting on the antiaircraft [gun in Vietnam]. It was wrong. I will say that the context is something people don’t understand. There was no bombing at the time; there were no planes overhead; it was not an active gun. But it was still wrong.

Lily on marrying her partner of 43 years
My partner, Jane Wagner, and I married kind of impulsively a year ago after being together 43 years. I needed a ring. I went into the jewelry box and found one made out of denim with a stone in it, and another little expandable ring with beads on it. We used them, but now they’re back in the jewelry box. Relationships aren’t always easy. Ours is still sweet, but it gets bumpy and hilly now and then, and that’s just reality. I cannot fathom life without her.

Jane on her partner’s Parkinson’s
I’m with a man who has Parkinson’s, and that can be very hard. I’m energetic — I move fast, and he can’t. But Richard [Perry, a former record producer] is a kind and wonderful man. It never occurred to me in 70 years that kindness was important in a relationship. Fascination, sex appeal, intelligence, yes. Why aren’t we taught that kindness matters?

Jane on mental health
I get anxious. I worry that I’m not good enough. It’s a bit less than it used to be, but I come from a long line of people who are depressed, so I need to work deeply on myself. Meditation helps a lot.

Jane on facing death
The past few years, I’ve made a real point of cozying up to death and making it a friend. That’s what I always do with things that frighten me. I read about death, and I think about myself dying and how I want it to be. It helps me to plan. If you know you want to have certain loved ones around you, then you have to live in a way that will have them there. And you don’t want important things going unsaid before you die. Death is inevitable, so why not make peace with it? I’m not scared of it at all.

I didn’t want to make the stuff Fonda said about her anti-war efforts the title because then some people would yell about Hanoi Jane, etc. She has expressed regret and has apologized for that period in her life many, many times and she still feels guilty about it. I think she truly understands at this point that it was an affront to our forces.

Jane’s thoughts on mental health remind me of what Kristen Bell said about her anxiety and depression. It’s both reassuring and disheartening to hear that famous people suffer from the same issues as the rest of us.

As for death, I’m not close enough to it yet to think about facing it head on or what my plans would be. It seems rather unfair that once we realize what matters in life we have less time to enjoy it.




photos credit: WENN and FameFlynet

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34 Responses to “Jane Fonda: ‘I’ve made a real point of cozying up to death and making it a friend’”

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  1. Kate says:

    It’s Grace and Frankie. Frankie and Johnnie is a Johnny Depp film.

  2. Kate says:

    Not sure what’s wrong with doing something that’s an affront to the forces when the forces are doing horrific and utterly pointless things.

    • Sarah says:

      Yeah was gonna post the same thing… annoying that it’s assumed we’re all in agreement that what she did was “blasphemous” and awful, isn’t it the other way around?

      • AJ says:

        Agreed. It’s never offended me. The fact that LBJ literally did not care about the war… that offends me. The fact that American military brass didn’t care about our troops or their families or the people we murdered in Vietnam… that offends me. But Jane Fonda never has.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        It’s a tough one, because a lot of the people in the forces were doing horrific and pointless things but they were sent there, often drafted and sent there without a choice. The higher-ups who sent them there however…

    • Bobby the K says:

      Well said ladies.
      LBJ misled congress and the American public with the Gulf of Tonkin incident to expand the war.
      And there’s no excuse for some of the unnecessary horrific things that happened.
      Jane admitted that what she did was stupid, but who was actually hurt by it?

  3. Jayna says:

    I really like Grace and Frankie. The first season started out kind of contrived and not that great, but good. But halfway through it settled in nicely. I finished the second season and the relationship between the two women on the show is really great and very authentic feeling, not as forced as the show used to feel. I finished the last show and realized I was sad the second season was over, but it ended beautifully with them sticking together after issues with their families and empowerment as older women who still feel vital and having each other’s back.

    • Yolie C says:

      Yes! I truly love the show. I burned through the whole first season over an entire weekend when it first premiered. I really like the friendship between Grace and Frankie. I’m going to say though that season 2 wasn’t that great for me. I’ll have to re-watch!

    • jugil1 says:

      I totally agree. I love the show. I just finished the 2nd season & felt sad that there weren’t more to watch. The series is funny & heartfelt. I too love the friendship between the two women. Lily’s character, Frankie, in particular is hilarious!

  4. SusanneToo says:

    I’m up to S1E9 and it is hilarious. Maybe because I’m at the same place as your mother, CB. My daughter loves it, too.

  5. Erinn says:

    I just wanted to say that Grace and Frankie is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a while. I just started season 2 – and I LOVE that they brought up the argument over where pills should be kept again because I constantly throw pill bottles in one of our kitchen cabinets, and my husband can’t fathom why I would do such a thing.

    • Jayna says:

      I loved Season 2 because their relationship really feels so authentic after having now lived together for a while as roommates and their new lives. Season 2 is them really coming into their own as single women and their deepening friendship.

      • Erinn says:

        It’s been fantastic so far. I’m trying to ration out the episodes as much as I can, but it’s so easy to binge watch.

  6. Dangles says:

    After thirty all life is is preparation for death.

  7. Tig says:

    i have always liked Jane Fonda- she’s a great actress. I can watch Electric Horseman every day- forget the crazy ending. I do wish she’d quit apologizing- those who forgave her(if that’s even the word to use) already have; those who haven’t, never will.
    Finally got around to seeing “Grandma”- movie itself is so-so, but Lilly and Marcia Gay Harden are amazing.

    • lilacflowers says:

      “I do wish she’d quit apologizing- those who forgave her(if that’s even the word to use) already have; those who haven’t, never will.”

      So very true.

  8. BearcatLawyer says:

    CB – tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Most people assume they will live a long life before they die, but it does not work out that way for everyone. I fell out of remission two years ago and have had to confront the reality that I probably will not beat my cancer this time. With treatment I may live many years in relatively decent health, but I can never stop treatment and eventually it will probably kill me – unless something else gets me first. So I understand what Kane Fonda means about making death a friend and not fearing it but planning how you want to be remembered and celebrated.

    Funnily enough, my life in many ways got better once I started thinking about my ultimate demise. Now I REALLY do not GAF what people think about my choices or me. I have rediscovered past interests that I previously felt I did not have time for and tried lots of new things that I might otherwise have not done. After all, you only live once so you might as well make it count!

    • Christin says:

      I’m in my 40s, and after watching my parents’ lengthy declines, I am completely in the ‘enjoy every moment’ phase. I don’t try to please everyone and view time as the valuable, irreplaceable resource it is.

      If someone wants your time, view it as if they are asking for money. Is it a good investment?

      Not to sound selfish or cold, but it is personally liberating to free yourself of self-imposed pressure to please others.

  9. MrNobody says:

    Love Jane Fonda, but when I hear anyone–of any age, claim to be unafraid of death, I know that’s wholly untrue–no disrespect to her, but NO ONE is that constant in regard to death–it’s not a matter of everyone being different/handling things differently: death transcends differences. Such “peacemaking” efforts require constant maintenance and are prone, at times, to complete dissolution and subsequent revival–as a 71 year old, I can attest. It’s nice that she wants to present a brave face and make statements that SOUND absolute, but it’s BS all the same.

    • hey-ya says:

      …totally agree…Im a nobody who’s got nothing to lose when I die is what I tell myself and everyone rich or poor goes…but then so often I turn around to say I love life..I want to see this & that..when its my time I know Im gonna be someone who goes with tears…but at least shes had the conversation..not sure if Madge has tho…& she needs to..

    • xpresson says:

      That is your view… but there are people who are genuinely unafraid of death. People who have experienced Near death for example. People’s whose believes lead them to think that the after life they believe in is much better than their present one and people who have just given up on life, like my grandma when she was in her 90’s who Just wanted to die and was waiting for it. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean other people are talking BS when it comes to dying.

  10. MsGoblin says:

    “It seems rather unfair that once we realize what matters in life we have less time to enjoy it.” Here, here.

    I binge-watched the second season of Grace and Frankie over the holiday weekend. I LOVE the mature-woman-humor. What a great show.

  11. neocleo says:

    “It seems rather unfair that once we realize what matters in life we have less time to enjoy it.”

    But that’s what makes it so precious. So many people fail to realize this.

  12. shannon says:

    Death can happen to anyone at anytime. It’s a part of life. Might as well start making friends with it at any age.

    • Bobby the K says:

      So true. Lose a loved one at any age, especially suddenly, and you learn how fragile life is.
      There’s so much to appreciate and be grateful for.

  13. Joannie says:

    I love the show as well and have always admired Jane Fonda.

  14. GetReal says:

    Jane Fonda needed to be taught that kindness should be part of a relationship? What kind of self-centered @sshole is she? Gee, you should be kind to your partner–now there’s some earth shattering news. Can’t stand her, she’s a self-absorbed arrogant hag.

    • Bobby the K says:

      You probably don’t appreciate the um, ‘irony’ of your little rant
      re: kindness.

    • holly hobby says:

      I think she was referring to traits in a partner not herself. If you read some of her bios the men she was with were doozys. Tom Hayden was a jerk. Everyone knows about Ted Turner. Not sure Vadim but he can’t be a winner either. She is saying that kindness should be a trait to look for in a partner – not that he’s hot and sexy or whatever!

  15. cd3 says:

    Just came to say I love Jane Fonda’s and Lily Tomlin’s style. They are both killer dressers each in their own unique style.