Jane Fonda had a difficult relationship with her father and when Roger Vadim gave her emotional stability she overlooked their toxic relationship.
Jane Fonda has never shied away from sharing the details of her colorful life. The 82-year-old, who was once the most hated person in the country, has also opened about her relationships. She was born to Henry Fonda and Francis Seymour but lost her mother at the tender age of 12. Francis was Henry's second wife and after her death, he went on to marry three more times. "Before my mother’s death I was feisty, I was ambitious, I was brave," she said according to Daily Mail. "Suddenly I was nothing to myself. You could have put what was left of me into a thimble."
Fonda's already broken self-worth was further wrecked by her relationship with her film star father, who failed to show any emotions or even praise or lend the support that she desperately needed. "I never had a real, long conversation with my dad in my entire life," she recalled. In her marriage to her first husband, director Roger Vadim, she experienced the emotional stability that she had been longing for, but that came as a package deal with toxicity in their relationship. "What I found as irresistible about him as the sex was his attachment to his little daughter. (I thought) he must be a good man to love his daughter that way," she shared. The two were so ecstatic during the initial months of their relationship that Fonda thought her "heart would burst."
Vadim, who was 10 years older than her, eventually showed his true colors. The Barbarella actress revealed in her autobiography, My Life So Far, that her husband encouraged her to have a threesome after she found him cheating on her. The French director, who was previously married to Brigitte Bardot, convinced her to find other women who would join the two in bed. He even suggested that she talks to those women and bring them home along with her.
An insecure Fonda agreed to go along with her husband's wishes but knew in her heart that the act made her feel "less than perfect." According to Evening Standard, she wrote, "For me with Roger Vadim, that meant bringing other women into our bed. It seems shocking that I did that, but I managed to convince myself that it was fine, that I wanted to, even though it was killing my heart." Speaking about how the threesome escalated to foursomes, she continued, "I had never even thought about a threesome but I treated it as if it was the most normal thing on earth. So threesomes became foursomes – always girls."
"I convinced myself that I enjoyed it. We reached a point when I would go and do the soliciting. Always discreetly, of course, through a high-class agency. Yet I was supposed to be clever and my own woman. I was anything but," she added, according to Express UK. Even on the day of their wedding in 1965, Fonda felt a sense of foreboding but decided to go on with it anyway. She recalled "feeling like a zombie" and wondering "I don’t know why I’m doing this." Over time, she found herself entangled in Vadim's messy life, which included being in debt due to his gambling habits. At that point, she was not only paying off his creditors but also supporting his sexual fantasies. Even after decades, the artist was shocked at the things she had done for her husband.
"Even now, I can’t believe I took the risks. The personal feeling of having no self-worth was bad enough," she said back in 2016. "He validated me. I couldn’t conceive of leaving him," she said, per Daily Mail. That's why when Vadim brought a sex worker from a brothel in Paris, she took her "cues" from the man and "threw" herself into the "threesome with the skill and enthusiasm of the actress" that she is. Unfortunately, the toxic relationships had a rather adverse effect on Fonda who was literally left emaciated. "I ceased eating except for crusts from his bread and rinds from his camembert."
Now, Fonda has finally understood why she found Vadim comforting, it was familiar. In some ways, her husband echoed her father's behavior. The couple's marriage ultimately ended in divorce in 1973. The actress is glad that she is no longer an object of desire. "Men don’t look at me anymore. I’ve been looked at a lot in my life, so now I can be anonymous. It is something of a relief," she said.