Skinny dipping with Michael Jackson? Improbable as that sounds, it’s exactly what Jane Fonda did with the late superstar.
It was the early 1980s, and Jackson had come to visit her and one of his heroes, Katharine Hepburn, on the New Hampshire set of On Golden Pond, in which Fonda starred with her father, Henry, and Hepburn.
“[He] came and stayed for 10 days,” recalled the actress, whose new movie, Youth, opens Dec. 4. “And when I first asked [Hepburn] permission she was not happy. Then the crew said, ‘You don’t understand. It’s Michael Jackson!’ We lived together. I went skinny dipping with him — also, by the way, with Greta Garbo.”
Speaking on October 7 to a student audience at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film & TV, where she was taking part in the ongoing Hollywood Masters interview series moderated by THR’s Stephen Galloway, Fonda added: “But she accepted him; he wanted to be a movie star — he had just finished doing The Wiz. And he had a tape recorder with him, and every day I would bring him to the set, and in between scenes she would sit down in a chair and pull over a chair for him and tell him stories. I wish I knew where those tapes were. And every story embedded a lesson: for example, she talked about Laurette Taylor — and anyone who was alive to see Laurette Taylor in Glass Menagerie has seen as great a moment of acting as [there is]. So she described to Michael seeing this transcendent piece of acting [and how] she then saw her 25 or 30 years later playing the same role, [and] the magic was gone. And she said to Michael, ‘She wasn’t hungry anymore.’ What a great thing to say to a young, rising star like Michael: ‘You gotta stay hungry.’ ”
Is Fonda still hungry? “Oh, you have no idea,” she said to laughter.
The two-time Oscar winner (Klute, Coming Home) also spoke about her father, the star of such pictures as The Grapes of Wrath and 12 Angry Men. “I’m older than he was when he died,” the 77-year-old actress noted. “And at this late stage of my life, I’m happy to be able to say: ‘Dad, I love you dearly. I know you did your best, and I’m proud that I’ve evolved past you.’ I’ve worked really, really hard on myself to not be judgmental, you know. He was a certain generation of person who believed that therapy, and religion, and Prozac, and all of those kinds of things that some of us really need — belief, faith, therapy — were crutches. ‘They’re all damn crutches.’ And so, you know, I’ve worked hard to not be mired in depression and judgment and things like that. And I say that with great love in my heart for him. I think that if there had been Prozac then, our lives would all have been different.”
Watch the video below and read the full transcript on The Hollywood Reporter.