Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist


Jane Fonder

Jane Fonda


What fitne$$ means to Fonda

The Mail On Sunday 30th October 1983

Fitness, films and creative investment have made Fonda a financial institution. Just how much she is worth and where the money goes have caused controversy. Doug Thompson probes the facts behind those good figures

Jane Fonda, queen of causes, radical actress, activist, voice of the people and defender of me poor is now the head of a multi-million dollar financial empire. The lady has grown financially fat through fitness and consolidated her position in big business.

So what exactly is Fonda doing with the immense fortune? What does a political radical do with such an embarrassing amount of wealth? The conduit of some of these new millions is Jane's husband, Tom Hayden, who now sits in Sacra­mento as the Democratic represen­tative of the 44th District of the California State Assembly.

Fonda and Tom live in an unassuming wooden chalet-bungalow in Santa Monica, a nine iron from the Pacific Ocean. What her father Henry always called a 'shack' cost them $40,000 ten years ago, the price more for beach access than the property. Their neighbours are a night watchman, a factory worker and a policeman. What remains of the old days in her modest home (now worth $120,000) are a Queen Anne sideboard and 14-year-old Vanessa (by her first husband Roger Vadim). They share the space with the couple's nine-year-old son Troy.

As well as their Santa Monica home they own a $500,000 120-acre ranch in Santa Barbara - in heckling distance of President Reagan's Wes­tern White House - for which they put down $100,000. They made up the remainder with an 11 per cent bank mortgage.

She married Hayden, the son of a middle-class family, in Detroit where they met in 1971. They shared interests and inch-thick FBI files. Then she was Hanoi Jane. He was Radical Tom. Today he is rising Politician Tom, she is Super-businesswoman Jane.

Hayden was elected last year after the most expensive political race in California history. He and his Republican opponent Bill Hawkins spent $2.8 million in the campaign, 100 times what the $28,000 a year job pays. Hayden, who is 44, spent three dollars for every one laid out by Hawkins.

Much of his campaign funds, first half a million dollars and then $100,000 in the critical three days before the election, came from his wife. Extensive financial support had gone on long before the victory which gave Hayden an income of more than $6,000 a year for the first time in his life.

Understandably, Republican can­didate Hawkins was miffed. He was not alone when he claimed Fonda had 'bought' her husband an official voice in the government of Califor­nia, the seventh largest economy in the world.

What next? A seat in Washing­ton? The White House? Tom spends. Jane earns. Just exactly how much she earns and where it goes is not something either of them will readily be quizzed about.

The contributions, voluntary or otherwise, to Hayden and his Santa Monica-based Campaign For Economic Democracy (CED) are a financial paper trail. Donations by friends, like Fonda's Coming Home co-star Jon Voight, amounted to $37,850 last year.

CED itself spent $52,870 on 22 political candidates in 1982 of which $34,220 went on Hayden's election campaign. Records don't show how much more was spent.

With his eventual victory - he has fought expensive races for political office before - Hayden, physically if not philosophically, has joined the Establishment. His political organ­isation researched his image and it was positive. The surprise was that his wife, the breadwinner, was regarded with suspicion by voters. Her caustic broadcasts from Hanoi, from behind enemy lines, were still remembered. Better, said advisers, not to have so much to do with her in public.

The first signs of Jane's chic rad­icalism came in 1973 when she founded the JJPC Films Company. The initials stood for Indochina Peace Campaign where she had first met her partner, the bearded, soft-spoken former schoolteacher Bruce Gilbert. Aged 36, Gilbert is now also a millionaire.
Two years earlier she had won the Best Actress Academy Award for Klute. She was a 'bankable' star in Hollywood. But it took IPC, now quietly renamed the International Pictures Corporation, six years to produce Coming Home.

The film on the plight of Vietnam veterans cost $5.2 million to make. It made a profit of $26 million and won Fonda another Oscar.

There was more message, more success and more profit with IPC's The China Syndrome. The anti-nuke film cost six million dollars to make and has so far earned S44 million.

Then, Fonda, always concerned, wanted to do something about the lot of female office workers. Nine to Five, in which she starred with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, cost ten million dollars to produce. Many i critics thought it trite and a waste of | cash and talent. It is the most profit- % able 'women's' picture ever made.

It has earned $103 million at the box office worldwide, another million in cable and network re.evision sales and is still makingey.   The   distributor,   20th Century-Fox, saw a return of $55 million on its investment.

Jane Fonda was paid two million dollars to star in Nine to Five and had a profit share of the $55 million as both actress and producer. Various estimates put Fonda's 'take' from that one film at around ten million dollars.

Seeing the potential she moved on with her company producing a TV series based on the film. IPC have half the rights which they retain al­though Fonda has now dropped as executive producer. A long-running series, on network TV and then in syndication, has potential earnings of more than $100 m, So, IPC own half of that possibility.

IPC also co-produced On G: Pond, Henry Fonda's last filrr. 11 z one which put him on screen for the first time with his daughter. It was a profitable partnership, the film made $101 million at the box office.

Then ironically, Tom Hayden suggested a film, a scary thriller about the world's banking systems. Fonda starred with Kris Kristoffer-son and Rollover did just that. It rolled over and died critically and financially, By then, it scarcely mattered. Fonda remains one of 1983's highest paid actresses (guaranteed two million dollars up front before profit participation) and has established herself as America's fitness guru.

It began by accident - literally. The actress who stayed thin vomit­ing through Vassar and for the next 20 years kept herself in shape with ballet broke her foot. There were just two months to go before work began on Neil Simon's California Suite and her role called for scenes in a bikini.

After the cast came off her foot she went to exercise class. She liked the results. In May, 1979, on Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills in three studios strung around a patio, the first Jane Fonda Work­out operation began. The initial investment was $200,000. A year later that amount and more had been earned back.

Another workshop was opened in Encino, an upward suburb of Los Angeles. Then another in San Fran­cisco where there was an upset earlier this year. Three female in­structors, claiming they were being paid one dollar less an hour than the seven dollars their male counter­parts were earning, brought a S30 million lawsuit. They say they want fair play from Fonda. The case is still pending.

The Workout in Beverly Hills is open six days a week with 160 classes running from 7am to 10pm. The colourful, figure-fetish cus­tomers, on average 3,000 a week, pay seven dollars an hour to punish their bodies.

The three workout studios alone showed a pre-tax profit of one million dollars last year. But there was much more to be made from those willing to get fit the Fonda way. There is also mass profit in books and products.

It began with Jane Fonda's Work­out Book, which by this autumn has sold nearly two million copies. Because of the success a move un­precedented in publishing circles was made. The price was increased by Simon and Schuster by two dollars to $17.95 a copy. Jane Fon­da's Workout Book for Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery followed. It has sold nearly half a million copies at $16.95 a time.

Products include Workout leo­tards at $30, T-shirts ($7.99), in­struction records ($12.99), cassettes ($13.75) and video tapes ($63.60). The extent of the Fonda influence was seen ten months ago in the charts of Billboard magazine. Her Workout video was the number one seller, On Golden Pond first on the video rental charts.

Where will it end? It won't. Another Workout studio is scheduled to open in New York next year. There are rumours of one opening in London. And Mary Lemonick at Simon and Schuster can hardly speak for excitement about the prospect of more Fonda fitness books.

Next year Fonda's book Women Coming of Age will go on sale aimed at women over 35 and promoting the Fonda philosophy: 'If you're 40, look 40 and look great.' The sub­jects? Diet, exercise, menopause. The price? That gets decided late in the game,' says Lemonick.

Neither does she know how much it will take to buy Jane Fonda's Appointment Desk Calendar which will also be published next year. Buyers will not just get dates but exercise and diet information.

Royalties from the sale of the books and the other products -about half a million of each have been sold in the past ten months -run at two dollars a time. Millions of books. Millions of products. And millions of dollars.

How many millions? Jack Nicholl is the man who knows but he isn't saying. He is Executive Director of CED, founded seven years ago by Tom Hayden. What has Nicholl to do with the Beautiful People Industry? As well as running CED. he is on the board of Jane Fonda Workout, Inc. At present CED gets all Workout's profits.

CED has 30 branches throughout California, They are concerned. Like Hayden and Fonda, with cancer agents, rent control, abortion rights, nuclear energy, environmental threats, presidential candidates Mr Nicholl is charming and polite but steadfast when it comes to revealing exact finances. He defends his coy­ness: 'Keep-fit is a competitive field. We don't like to let them know how we are doing.'

Very well is the general answer. For every bump and grind by a matron in Beverly Hills or a secret­ary in San Francisco, or a book, record or cassette bought in a US store or at WH Smith, there are a few dollars more to help keep the CED organisation ticking.

Advisedly, the future funding of CED/Hayden has been not so subtly changed. They will still get all the profits from the existing Workout enterprises. But profits from future projects will go straight to Jane Fonda. And what will she do with all that money? That's her business, they say.

'It got picked up the wrong way at one time,' said Jack Nicholl. 'It was wrongly reported that Jane would no longer be giving her financial support. She will.'

Over the past decade she has given most of her money to political issues and candidates. She has inves­ted in her beliefs and not in a Wall Street portfolio.

But again, where will the new Fonda fortune go? Recently she vaguely answered that question her­self. 'Getting all this money is brand new. I really want to be true to my beliefs, to invest in issues that make sense socially.'

Excluded from her investments future are oil companies, petrochemicals or Pharmaceuticals, speculation in foreign currency and real estate deals unless the environ­ment and tenants' rights are protec­ted. Included are cable television and alternative energy sources, solar power and windmills. Jane Fonda still needs something to tilt at.

Her latest challenge is her first TV film called The Dollmaker and it will make her marketing men squirm. She plays a mother with five child­ren who is uprooted from her Ken­tucky farm to trail after her husband seeking work in wartime Detroit. It is not the kind of role someone who has created an enormous empire out of fitness and beauty would seem likely to take.

She put on 15 pounds weight to play author Harriette Arnow's heroine, the disquieting opposite of Jane Fonda who it seems can do everything.

For, Plain Jane or not, the executives of the ABC network, who will screen the three-hour Dollmaker, predict it will be one of this US TV season's big ratings winners and money makers. Fonda's International Pictures Cor­poration owns 50 per cent of the profits.

Walking Out On Jane Fonder's Regime

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