Jane Fonda Recalls Memories of Marilyn Monroe That Spotlight the Late Icon’s Charisma and Charm

Jane Fonda might be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars with an iconic history of modeling, acting, and activism. She spoke of some of her most favorite memories in an interview with The New York Times. Her experiences with fellow stars, both on and off set, are fascinating. But it was one memory that she recounted, of the legendary Marilyn Monroe, that piqued the most interest. It was a moment that, to Fonda, proved just how charming and charismatic the late Monroe really was.

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A little flashback on Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda, daughter of the acclaimed actor Henry Fonda, has enjoyed a long and successful career. She dabbled first in comedic roles and landed Academy Awards for more serious performances in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978). She also modeled for a bit and is famously remembered for her exercise videos of the 1980s. More recent projects include YouthGrace and Frankie, and The Newsroom

Fonda has always been fierce and vocal in her beliefs. She is one of the loudest, prominent civil rights and anti-war activists out of Hollywood. In 1972, she was one of the Vietnam War’s harshest critics and traveled to North Vietnam in protest, according to Biography. It was a move so controversial, she was deemed “Hanoi Jane,” and considered an American traitor at the time. In more recent times, Fonda continues to fight for civil rights, women’s rights, and social causes. She’s led a series of climate change protests in Washington, D.C. as recent as 2019, and is no stranger to being arrested for her activism.

What Jane Fonda said about Marilyn Monroe

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Jane Fonda talked about being in an acting class with Marilyn Monroe during her interview with The New York Times. It was in Lee Strasberg’s class where they first met, and according to Fonda, Monroe liked her. Fonda went on to describe one of Lee Strasberg’s parties to which Monroe arrived late. Fonda said the party-goers were so excited at Monroe’s presence that they were physically shaking with enthusiasm. And it wasn’t because Monroe was striking in any extraordinary way. In fact, it was more of a charming and charismatic glow about her that was so unbelievable, it had grown men and women shuddering. To Jane Fonda, it was a reaction she had never seen before.

Marilyn Monroe continues to be a world-famous icon

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Marilyn Monroe was more than a big-screen icon. She continues to be a legendary name, well-known by almost everyone today, despite her death in 1962. She was young and only 36 years old when she died of a drug overdose. And it’s a saga contested by many conspiracy theorists still. She starred in films grossing more than $200 million and had high-profile relationships with Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, and many believed she had an affair with President John F. Kennedy.

Norma Jean Baker changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and dyed her hair blonde in 1946 upon signing her first movie contract, according to Biography. Her unique voice and hourglass figure made her a poster favorite of the day. But she was also talented as an actress in popular films like The Asphalt Jungle (1950), All About Eve (1950), Niagara (1953), and How to Marry a Millionaire (1954), opposite Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable.

They’d probably still be friends today

It’s clear from The New York Times interview that Jane Fonda held Marilyn Monroe in high regard. But comparing the experiences of the two Hollywood legends, it’s also clear they had a lot in common. Both came from dramatic life upbringings, Monroe in foster care, and Fonda with her mother’s suicide. They both dabbled in modeling and were considered sex symbols. Both were passionate about their beliefs and activism efforts, as well. If Monroe were still alive today, it would be likely the two would still be close friends.

It’s hard to say where Marilyn Monroe’s career would have taken her. But she evidently made an impact on those who got to know her. Even the iconic Jane Fonda remembers their time together well and is grateful for it.