Jane Fonda was in acting school with Marilyn Monroe. Both studied at the Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg. Fonda remembers Monroe from class, as well as how she related to the movie star’s struggles in her personal life and career.
Fonda was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on Sept. 9. Stern asked Fonda about her friendship with Monroe. So, Fonda shared the emotional hardship that afflicted them both.
Jane Fonda never felt she was beautiful
Fonda confessed she grew up feeling unattractive. However, it wasn’t about her actual appearance. Rather, her surroundings and people in her life contributed to low self-esteem.
“Here’s the thing,” Fonda told Stern. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or anything like that. If when you were young, you were made to feel not good enough — if you were made to feel not pretty, not smart, if you were made to feel fat, if you were made to feel unlovable — then no matter what the objective reality is, you’re going to grow up feeling that that’s true.”
Marilyn Monroe had the same insecurity as Jane Fonda
Fonda could tell Monroe had the same self-doubts, even though they were both movie stars when they met. Fonda said they bonded over their struggles.
You know who else didn’t? Marilyn Monroe. She recognized it in me. She was extremely insecure, way more than me [but] she didn’t have my resilience, unfortunately. I knew who she was. She was very, very famous. She would sit next to me. And, she would be shaking a little bit. She was so nervous that she never did do a scene in the class. She never did, she was too scared. I was just fascinated by the dichotomy between who she was and her beauty and the fact that she was too scared to do a scene. It’s the ‘today’s the day they’re going to find out I’m a fraud’ [imposter] syndrome.
Actors Studio gave Marilyn Monroe a little comfort
Monroe’s life ended tragically in 1962 at the age of 36. Fonda recalled Monroe got some comfort at least during the time she was at Actors Studio.
“The teacher was Lee Strasberg and I don’t know what he said to her,” Fonda said. “He was very kind to her. She was extremely kind to her and she loved him a lot. I think it was probably the most happy and secure she felt during that time she was with the Actors Studio and Lee and Paula Strasberg.”
Jane Fonda was an ally to Marilyn Monroe too
Monroe could also find support in her fellow actor. Fonda was experience a similar sort of industry machine.
“I think she was always attracted to vulnerability,” Fonda said. “She was a young kid. She would leave a party to go talk to young children for example. Oftentimes, if we were in the same situation, she would com to me to talk. There was a party at Lee Strassburg and she came late. When she walked in, I noticed there were men who started to hyperventilate and shake. She walked straight to me and started talking to me. I knew it was because she felt a kinship and she felt safe with me. I was very touched by that.”
No amount of movie glamour or public admiration could undo the psychological issues embedded in one’s youth.
“All of that to say that the objective reality isn’t what matters,” Fonda said. “It’s how you were made to feel about yourself when you were very young. Most off us go through childhood and we receive those kind of scars, those wounds that cna stay with you unless you very dleibertely and intenitoinally work to heal them.”
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