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Jane Fonda's Third Act Is a Charm

Jane Fonda’s Third Act Is a Charm

In her seventh decade, vivacious show-biz legend Jane Fonda is acting again, making exercise videos again, and dating again — all while relishing “the joy of grandchildren.”  |  

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“I try to lead my third act in such a way that I won’t have regrets.”

Of all the roles Jane Fonda has played in her 76 years — award-winning actress, fitness guru, bestselling author, sex symbol, entrepreneur, activist, philanthropist, daughter, sister, mother — she says the one that “really makes me happy is Grandma.”

She admits to being “not particularly maternal” with her own children: Vanessa (first husband, Roger Vadim), Troy Garity (second husband, Tom Hayden), and Mary Williams (whom she adopted). “I don’t think I was that good of a mother. But I did always tell them the truth, and I hope they can always learn from my mistakes. That’s what’s so great about being a grandmother: It gives you a second chance.”

Jane became a grandmother at age 62, with the birth of Vanessa’s son, Malcolm, now 14. Three years later, she welcomed granddaughter Viva. She looks forward to Troy and wife Simone giving her “the next set of grandchildren.”

“When my first grandchild was born and I held him in my arms, I really understood intimacy. I felt a love I had never felt before,” she said. “It broke me open, and I needed to be broken open.”

Malcolm and Viva visit often and exchange emails with “Grandma.”

“My friends in Atlanta asked what I wanted my grandchild to call me. I said, ‘Grandma, of course,’ and they were shocked. Their kids called them Dolly, Nanny, anything else. But I like Grandma.”

The family often gathers for holidays at Jane’s New Mexico ranch. After dinner, they “love to play board games.” She also takes the grandkids on vacations, such as to Chicago and Paris, and on Grandma dates.

“Grandchildren are the most wonderful thing.”

Jane Fonda with her children and grandchildren
Jane vacationing in Galapagos Islands with her children (Mary, Vanessa, Troy) & grandchildren (Viva, Malcom)

“I took them to see Monster-in-Law They had never seen me in a movie before. When I came on the screen, they screamed out, ‘Grandma! Grandma!’”

The blockbuster film marked Jane’s return to acting after a 15-year hiatus while married to Ted Turner and writing her memoir, My Life So Far. During that time, she also retired from her fitness career, returning in 2010 with two fitness DVDs for older people.

“Staying physically active is just about the number-one factor in whether you have a good third act or not,” Jane said. “Activity strengthens the heart and bones, improves circulation, reduces obesity, thickens the skin, and can help with depression because endorphins give relief from pain, enhance the immune system, reduce stress, and bring us a sense of well being.”

“I like being saucy . . . I’m still trying to find my way between matronly and coltishness.”

Jane Fonda Firm and Burn fitness DVD

Exercise for Jane is now less about how she looks and being thin. “It’s more about function: staying independent, being able to carry your own bag, being able to lift your grandchildren, being able to look over your shoulder so you can back down the driveway.”

Jane’s third act is all about authenticity, vitality, and wholeness.

“Everybody associates me with the workout, but what is really good to do when you get older is a work in. You go inward,” she said. “I learned to meditate, and that’s made all the difference in the world to me.”

“When I was young, up till my fifties, I was sure that if I lived this long I’d be miserable, decrepit, ugly, and alone. Instead, I’m happier than ever. . . . I’m basically healthy and have loving, intelligent, challenging children, grandchildren, friends, and lover [music producer Richard Perry]. I feel very blessed.”

Family gathering at Jane Fonda's New Mexico ranch
Family gathering at Jane’s New Mexico Ranch
Jane Fonda Richard Perry
Jane with beau, Richard Perry








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Jane Fonda’s Amazing Encore Career!

“Aging isn’t what we used to think it was, where you peak at midlife. It’s ascending a staircase into growth, wisdom, well-being, and happiness.”

Jane Fonda Sam Waterson The Newsroom Emmys
Jane & Sam Waterston (The Newsroom)

Since returning from “retirement” eight years ago, Jane Fonda has played Lindsey Lohan’s grandmother in Georgia Rule, a hippie grandmother in Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, and Nancy Reagan in The Butler. She’ll appear opposite Tina Fey in This Is Where I Leave You (fall 2014), and since 2012 she’s costarred in HBO’s hit series The Newsroom.

She also has released three Jane Fonda Prime Time fitness DVDs: Fit & Strong, Walkout, and  AM/PM Yoga. Gives free health and workout tips on Jane Fonda Primetime Health on on YouTube’s Lionsgate BeFit Channel. Plus, she wrote her latest bestselling book, Prime Time: Love, Health, Sex, Fitness, Friendship, Spirit — Making the Most of All of Your Life (2011).

And for the real scoop from Lady Jane herself, check out her blog!


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Mary Ann Cooper Author


Mary Ann Cooper is a magazine editor, celebrity journalist, and the author of Grandeur: The Personal Reflections of Celebrity Grandparents.




Susan Reynolds author


Susan Reynolds is a Boston-based writer whose works include Train Your Brain to Get Happy, Everything Enneagram, and Meditation for Moms.





Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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