Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday and not at the Washington Press Club as was reported in the Thursday editions.
Scenes from a cross-country crusade with Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden:
At yesterday's Washington Press Club Lunch, Hayden says he is not for nationalizing the oil industry. "We see no reason to compound our unhappiness and have Jim Schlesinger become Chairman of the Board of Exxon."
Fonda is asked the inevitable Vietnam War questions and boat people questions. "I don't apologize for my opposition to the war and I think history has proven us right. I am not an apologist for the government of Vietnam. My concern today is with issues at home."
She plays it serious and straight -- unlike her husband, who is easy with the quips. Then she is asked if she really said that "Huey Newton, the Black Panther leader, is the only man that I have ever met that I could trust as a leader in this country."
There are a few titters as the packed room waits to see how she'll handle that one. The famous face does a double take, the eyes roll. "I have said some pretty off-the-wall things in my life . . . " The laughs and claps start. "All I have to say about that is that I was naive -- and utterly wrong." Fonda sits down to a burst of applause.
Outside the Reading, Pa., gym, the look was leftover '60s. The chanting and shouting and four-letter epithets. The long hair and scruffy jeans of the demonstrators. The police and canine corps pushing them back.
Inside, nearly 4,000 college students and townspeople crushed together to hear stump-thumping rhetoric about the late-1970s perils of energy crisis and inflation. The speakers were respectable. He in tan suit and tie; she in brown velvet blazer and slacks, hair piled into a bun -- Tod Hayden and Jane Fonda. Hollywood's synergistic duo, yesteryear's radicals -- changed by time and inclination into mainstream crusaders trying to capture a broad base to follow the sun and restructure society.
Outside, however, the ragtag crew of about 75 demonstrators seemed caught in a time warp from Vietnam days. There were youth members of the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party with their "Go Home, Hanoi Jane" picket signs and, off to the side a few white-haired men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.
In the car, as they approach, Fonda and Hayden hear the shouting and see the demonstrators who try to shove through police ranks to get close. The war has trailed them into their new world. The Albright College gym has been swept for bombs and locked. If there is a bomb threat, the question is raised of clearing everyone out and re-sweeping. No, say Hayden and Fonda, emphatically. It would cause headlines, give impetus to others. They'd be clearing out gymnasiums all along the East Coast as they pursue their frenetic 50-city, 35-day "blitz pilgrimage," as Fonda calls it.
The chants, the shouting, shouting, shouting float through the gym windows. Fonda at first seems nervous but she talks, loudly, earnestly over the noise. Keeps on going.
Fonda urges bringing workers and "average citizens" into the board rooms where today "only 1 percent of all stockholders own three-fourths of all stock." These unseen ogres of multinational corporations "determine if you will work, where, at what wages; men who stabilize or overthrow foreign countries like ITT in Chile and Lockheed in Japan," shouts Fonda. "We're at war with industry and corporations -- Ther is a double standard between crime in the suites and crime in the streets!"
From Hollywood they came east. To the little house of the Stoner family across from Three Mile Island's looming sci-fi cooling towers, to the sea of 200,000 anti-nukers in a New York rally, to the Washington Press Club and campuses like American University here and Albright in Reading. On and on and on.
They are for solar power and against multinational corporations and their profit-motive "religion of the age of affluence." It is mainstream populism they're after. The want to form a citizen/labor/energy coalition.
Hayden shouts about "democratizing" big business. "If we are going to be asked to bail out Chrysler, shouldn't we have a right in the decision making?"
They are sometimes eloquent, sometimes silly. Sometimes they confuse ponderous with profound and polemics with panaceas. But often they touch a chord -- moving crowds as they speak of the fragility of life in America today; the concerns, the loss of control. The "double sword" of gas and oil dependence. "Shortages if you don't want to pay, inflation if you do." A nuclear answer as fossil fuels run out is "a monument to greed gone out of control. People are willing to profit from the potential poisoning of their children!" Long applause.
Tom and Jane. Today's political/media/causist couple. "Social reformers," they call themselves. The politico and the movie star. Fonda the Oscar winner transcends glitter-world as she leaps into heavy issues with husband Hayden by her side. And he is not some scruffy SDS militant throwback as he stands by his rich and famous wife. They give each other an aura.
She draws the crowd -- the giggling women with their cameras and the death defying, bone-crunching TV crew with theirs. She largely funds their Campaign for an Economy Democracy (CED) through her movies. She is living even more off the fat of the affluent today -- having recently opened an exercise emporium in Beverly Hills, with profits going to CED, "Jane Fonda's Workout." She is packaging the brand name for her people's crusade like Reggie Bars. She speaks with an actresss drama; he articulates and weaves more labyrinthian, if sometimes vague, schemes for the future.
In rolling cadence, embroidering on his theme, he includes the religious and the nonreligious: "Counting for all the people down through human history, from past to present, the total sum of our genetic inheritance is less than a teardrop.That's what we pass on for the next century. And I'm saying that anyone who violates, contaminates, radiates or otherwise interferes with the transition of that human inheritance that is less than a teardrop violates the law of nature, if not the laws of God. And those who are trying to preserve that teardrop, that heritage, are acting in the finest tradition of all religion, of all culture . . . " The rest is drowned in thunderous applause.
There is this dilemma among the traveling band of reporters trailing Fonda/Hayden, and it is expressed in the thoughts of one young left-wing reporter. "I like him more than I wanted to, and I like her less than I expected to." Fonda is very businesslike, intense. An invisible shield protects her from the scuffmarks of those who surround her. Deep parentheses in her cheeks marke her wide mouth, which curves into a rather vulnerable smile. But Hayden jokes with the press, seems at ease with her limelight; in control.
What do we have here? The New Tom Hayden? All those adjectives that preceded him cross-country from the California crowd -- arrogant, unscruplous, opportunistic -- are muted in a man now 40 and definitely in training for his second Senate try in 1982. He is constantly asked whether he and Fonda are the advance to gather the troops for California Gov. Jerry Brown's 1980 presidential run. Hayden denies it -- and as Kennedy surfaces, the Brown connection is more and more softened.
At the Washington Press Club, laughter interrupts Hayden when he unexpectedly plays on the Kennedy family stories. "This is not an advance for Jerry Brown. Actually he's talking to his mother about whether or not . . . "
"They kept talking about the democratic primary," said one solar advocate in Pennsylvania. "And we said, 'Cool it, most of our anti-Three Mile Island support comes from moderate and conservative Republicans.'" So Jane and Tom cooled it.
He is the perfect politician, taking pictures of senior citizens in a solarheated apartment with his wife.
But the other Tom Hayden was under wraps: The one accused of reaping media glory after others slogged in the trenches on the same issues. The Tom Hayden who had operatives call and request a social dinner with one of Washington's prominent and influential. Never once picked up the phone himself. Arrived late. Showed up with uninvited functionaries. Wolfed dinner. Name-dropped on the Fonda connection.Dashed out, leaving the prominent and influential Washingtonian to pick up the tab. Raced back in. Threw a crumpled $20 on table and left.
Hayden says he is not for "personality politics" -- prompting one man who worked with him in California politics to sneer, "Who would, if you had a personality like Tom's?"
It seems the greatest self-delusion, being against "personality politics" when you are Fonda/Hayden.But Hayden explains that the personality means nothing without the cause. His pitch is that there was an anti-slavery movement before Lincoln, a labor movement before FDR'S New Deal. In his quiet moments, however, Hayden says it's not enough for him to be some Norman Thomas gadfly.
The smog is at croaking-level in good old, sunny L.A. In the CED office, Hayden snaps open nuts with his teeth and talks of his life and times.
He is the son of a Chrysler accountant who now wages battle with such corporations; who went to the University of Michigan and forged Students for a Democratic Society in the Port Huron statement of 1962.
What changed and motivated him out of his middle class, Catholic, Chrysler background? "I was a little bit of a dissident in high school, there were nonpolitical dissidents then. People who spent all night talking about whether God exists; stuff like that. A little more antiauthoritarian. I never translated it into political commitment or anything personal until the sit-ins.
"It wasn't that the issue of civil rights was so important -- it was meeting people my own age who were willing to get arrested for their beliefs. I was a journalist and I had all these hesitations about where was the line between reporting and partisanship. At a certain point I just put down my pencil."
The road of student radicalism led Hayden through the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial. Today, he seems to want to explain who he was then, to soften the image. An article in New West by a former compatriot that savages Hayden and Fonda as diletante political opportunitist is kissed off as the workings of a disgruntled handful. The left of old is airily dismissed: "They exist as a paragraph in a story. If there was some truly powerful left group in California, in America, I would know about it."
He seems slightly uncomfortable when asked about the days when he was part of a commune called The Red Family and practiced rifle shooting in the Hollywood Hills. "Wait. That's very overblown. Just in 1969 alone there was National Guard occupation of Berkeley for 22 days. One person was killed, one blinded, and 150 were shot point-blank in broad daylight with Double-0 buck. And they the Panthers were just down the street with their operation going and the FBI operation against them.
"It's a cauldron that you had to go through to believe. My house was entered more than once in the middle of the night by armed police. Under those circumstances, to know how to shoot a gun didn't seem so crazy. I never dropped napalm on anyone from an airplane. I never even used a gun. But if people were going to bash down your door I felt it was quite American to be able to defend your house. I also think it was weird because I was caught up in a fever or paranoia and ah, a ah, sense of martyrdom or imminent doom.
"One morning I got a call that Fred Hampton and Mark Clark had been murdered by the police, which was part of the same apparatus that was prosecuting us. Bobby Seale had already been chained, gagged and beaten in front of us in October. And in December this other guy was shot in his bed and people were denying it. And I was spending eight hours going to a trial in which there was a crazy judge, a crazy prosecutor; the thing was obviously orchestrated by a crazy president and a crazy attorney general. And I was supposed to remain sane?
"We now know through Freedom of Information documents that my trial was largely a setup." That was when Hayden changed, when he parted company with friends who went into the underground and violence, he says. "Their theory was as extreme as their personalities had become. As I moved closer to a more revolutionary path, the more I put on the brakes and tried to go the other way."
The other way led Hayden to what he calls his "progressive populism."
Everyone is curious about Fonda and Hayden the couple, but the personal is rather hidden as they lockstep through this tour. Just glimpses. Occasionally holding hands in a car. Hayden sewing on a jacket button -- as Life takes a picture. ("Everyone will think I'm the biggest phony, but I swear I was sewing this before the photographer saw me.") Meanwhile, Fonda is playing entrepreneur, straightening out the schedules of her exercise stable long-distance.
As they appear before audiences, Fonda is slim and tall next to her husband, clasping hands behind her back, twisting her fingers constantly. They seem in perfect sync. He starts a thought. She finishes.
By Hollywood standards, they've been married forever -- six years. His mother talked them into getting married.
"It was good advice," says Hayden. "'If you don't get married and have kids, people will talk about that all the time,' she said. And that's right. You make certain lifetime agreements that sort of defy transitory relationships."
Hayden was hardly given to the romantic when he once described the attraction as they met along the militant trail. "When Jane came back [from her trip to Hanoi in 1972] she felt a lot more solidly about me and I felt the same way. It doesn't mean that our relationship is based entirely on Vietnam. It magnified feelings."
Today, issues are still a glue. "When two people share a common dream and can work in tandem, that in itself is incredibly rewarding on a personal level," says Fonda. "We don't have disagreements. If I had to cite one it would be that I'm more of a neatness freak than he is."
Her fingers are constantly twisting as she sits, coiled for action, during a brief interview. "I'm an actress. An emotional, intense person. I am not a politician, and it's very difficult for me to stand up and give speeches. $"I like to express myself through my work. So this kind of thing is much more normal for him. If he came on a movie set and had to act, I think I'd be much more relaxed and he'd be uptight."
One point that defies many who view Fonda from afar is why on earth the two would have put in their marriage vows the importance of "maintaining a sense of humor." It is the one quality not quickly revealed in her earnest passion about issues.Her former husband, film director Roger Vadim, once sighed that it was rather difficult "living with Joan of Arc."
That marriage vow reminder was vital, she says. "Yeahhh. You can get too intense. That's one of the things Tom brings me. When I first met him the thing that struck me was his sense of humor. While I think I'm a good comedian -- and I even prefer acting in comedies -- in real life I can sometimes lose my sense of humor, and Tom helps me out of those situations. I react viscerally.
Tom is very supportive. When the Arts Council thing happened, I was shaken by that." (The California legislature opposed her appointment in part because of her antiwar stance.) "the role Tom played, which was exactly what I needed, was to say, 'Hey, you're a fighter. Don't let them get to you.'"
At 41, Fonda still seems a person constantly evolving. From Henry Fonda's daughter to Barbarella who accepted the Hollywood makeovers and the falsies of the '50s. Then she fled Hollywood and grew into a serious actress in Paris, returning from that exile when she felt removed from the civil rights and Vietnam struggle.
"I always sided with the underdog. I grew up in a movie star's family but my father has never lived like a movie star really.
"In some ways he seems more suited to be a librarian from Omaha. His values are filled with integrity and idealism. And the roles he played! There's no question that 'Grapes of Wrath,' 'Young Lincoln,' 'Oxbow Incident,' 'Twelve Angry Men' and Darrow made a big impression on me. If you take those values and place them in the context of a Vietnam war you have the seeds of activism."
Shedding her movie-star image was difficult. "When I first came out against the war, I tried to protect myself with expertise that was borrowed from other people. People were saying, 'How can this be Barbarella, this instant expert with all these words' that frankly I didn't always understand.
"I think that's true of many women. Instead of just relying on my heart and not being apologetic or self-conscious because I wasn't an expert, I reacted the other way.'
She doesn't feel that way anymore. "And since I was active in the movement before I met Tom, I don't think there's a Svengali trip there."
But there are still defensive moments in public when she seems to fear the movie-star fluff-head image will re-emerge. She shows no grace when a well-meaning questioner asks whether she, an "attractive young person," would consider elective politics. "You mean an attractive old candidate. We don't need Hollywood stars," she snaps.
But Fonda is learning.When asked to respond to the "allegation that your husband uses your fame and money to further his own political ambitions," Fonda broke up a Washington Press Club audience. "I don't apologize for putting my tremendous salary at the service of candidates who are poor" -- then looking at Hayden -- "and he's one of them."
There are the inconsistencies of Fonda/Hayden life, no matter the modest Santa Monica home. Hayden sounds the alarm against all those products made in nonunion countries. "Now we are second class to the people we are protecting abroad. American productivity is down as Gucci shoes or Japanese stereos or French water" is consumed by Americans. But Perrier water is standard fare at their lunch table. "The enemy drink," he says, when questions. "We'll have to change that."
And Fonda has a hard time answering the man who wants to know what she is offering as an alternative when she is an actress and producer working with the very conglomerates she rails against -- like Gulf and Western, which owns Paramount. "None of us live in a pure environment, but there are many contradictions within the corporate system. I can make a 'China Syndrome.' We have to do what we can in the environment in which we work."
Hayden and Fonda relax on weekends with their son, Troy, 6 and her daughter by her marriage to Vadim, Vanessa, 11, at a summer camp they founded in Laurel Canyon for children of politically progressive parents.
There was a big flap about Hayden and Fonda evicting tenants when they took over the land, and there is continual "harrassment from the planning commission. But we've had our third successful summer. And it has had a very, very noticeable effect on my daughter's life."
Fonda worries about raising her children. "This is the first time Tom has been away from our son for a week, but I was in Europe filming 'Julia' for five months. It's hard for Vanessa to be my daughter. We're very much alike, and we look alike to a certain extent. It's always harder for the child of the same sex of a famous parent. It was harder on my brother to be my father's son than it was for me to be his daughter. My activism has taken me away from Vanessa from time to time. At the camp, her own identity bloomed a little bit more.
"She's interested in children's rights and fair housing for children."
In repose, Fonda's face shows tired lines reflecting the grueling schedule of the "blitz pilgrimage." She is asked what her life will be like 20 years from now, when she is 60.
"I don't see myself all that different. No one's happy about losing their youth, but losing youth doesn't scare me. What scares me about growing old is I get closer to death. I don't like dying."
Fonda's mother committed suicide when Fonda was 12. "She was one of those women who had a tremendous amount of intelligence, energy, dynamism and no way to express herself positively. There was no movement in those days; a lot of emphasis on how you look and staying young, and after a while that bottled-up energy begins to turn inward and becomes rage and fear. But all in all I had a pretty good childhood. I think I'm a stable, well-adjusted, normal person.
"I want to grow old feeling some sort of compassion for my age. There are a lot of women out there who are old and middle-aged and there's no reason why the culture should exclude them, so why can't I portray those kind of women?
"I'd like to do something about this youth cult in our country! I don't like it at all. Movies gave us the youth cult -- so why can't they change it?" she says with a slight laugh.
Her immediate future is a "knock-down, drag-out comedy about secretaries. I play a woman whose husband leaves her for his secretary."
If they don't pull together this national alliance, what is the next step? With the conviction of a zealot, Fonda says, "We will." People are ready to tackle complex and confusing issues, not just vote on political personalities, she feels. "The issues we're talking about are going to play a central role in the presidential elections, and we are going to help shape the debate." The voice is stronger still. "We know what we're doing."