Considering that she doesn’t know Jane Fonda that well, actress Debbie Reynolds seemed an odd choice to serve as a presenter at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s tribute to Fonda on May 7. Yet Reynolds had no problem drawing a distinction between herself and the thrice-married Barbarella star, whose exes include the late film director Roger Vadim, politician Tom Hayden and media mogul Ted Turner. “Jane Fonda,” cracked Reynolds to the crowd of 2,000 at Manhattan’s Avery Fisher Hall, “has a better class of ex-husbands than I do.”
Also, to be sure, a world-class acting career, distinguished by seven Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins (for 1971’s Klute and 1978’s Coming Home). “I feel great—very honored,” proclaimed the 63-year-old Fonda, who attended the gala—and a dinner at Tavern on the Green afterward—with son Troy Garity, 27, and daughter Vanessa Vadim, 32, who made the star a grandmother in 1999.
Among those toasting Fonda was actress Sally Field, a longtime friend. “She is ‘it’ as far as I’m concerned,” declared Field, adding that the former aerobics guru “taught me I didn’t have to starve myself to look fit.” Director Sydney Pollack praised Fonda’s range, noting, “She’s as versatile as anybody we have.”
Which begs the question: Will Fonda, who has not appeared in a film since 1990’s Stanley and Iris, ever return to the silver screen? Although she says no, many of the gala’s attendees warned against counting her out just yet. “This [award] is the intro,” said her son, “to her final act.”