Boy did we have fun last night! I didn’t know that so many folks from the cast and crew would come to Sardi’s for the unveiling of my portrait. As you may know (or not) the walls of Sardi’s are covered with portraits of Broadway actors. Nowadays they are portraits. In former times, they were caricatures. View the difference between my portrait and my father’s caricature.

The owner of Sardi’s, Max Klimavicius, threw a fabulous party for us. I was intending to go home early–after all I was up at 6am yesterday to leave Montreal. But I couldn’t tear myself away. It’s not often that all of us get a chance to chill and share stories.

My dear friend, Robert Osborne, who hosts the Turner Classic Movie channel was there looking dashing. He has lost a good bit of weight and it really becomes him.

janewithherportraitMy portrait (photo: Bruce Glikas)
standinginsardisnexttodadscaricaturewebStanding in Sardi’s next to Dad’s caricature (photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar-278-dickdianeclitisDick Pollak, Diane Walsh, Me, Cletus Karamon and Melissa Spengler. Cletus is the “Production Electrician” on “33 Variations”. (photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar2-myagentjoeThat’s my agent, Joe Machota in the middle. Pretty good looking guy, yes? (photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar4groupOur Producer, David Binder, Don Amendolia with Tulea, Samantha Mathis, Me, Susan Kellerman, Diane Walsh our pianist, and Linda Marvel, our stage manager on either side of my newly inaugurated portrait. (click photo to enlarge. Photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sarwithdadsMy portrait and my dad’s. Hmm. Guess I am happier (Photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar-dontuleaDon and Tulea (Photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar3-susan-jeffSusan Kellerman and Jeff LaHoste, 20 year partner of Moises Kaufman. (Photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar333-drWith Dr. Barry Kohn. He’s is the doctor who treats actors pro bono whom I have blogged about in the past. (Photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar227michealsamanthaMichael Winther, Linda and Samantha (Photo: Bruce Glikas)
sardi231maxSardi’s owner, Max Klimavicius and me with newly unveiled portrait (Photo: Bruce Glikas)
jane_sar229michaelWith Michael Winther. He, by the way, is responsible for “33 Variations” winning the Broadway Cares skit and is about the nicest person one could ever meet. Played one of the husbands in “Mama Mia,” fantastic singer. His new CD is “Song’s From An Unmade Bed.” Right now he is understudying Beethoven and Diabelli. (Photo: Bruce Glikas)

We had a good matinee today. Tonight my beloved friend and Zen teacher, Roshi Joan Halifax is coming. I’ve been waiting for this since the beginning. For me, this play is very Zen. Besides, one of the things Joan focuses her attention on (and her writing and teaching) is death and dying. She spends much time with the dying and I have learned a lot about this from her. One of my bloggers asked if in my next book on aging I intend to also focus on death and she sent me some suggested reading. I have read what she recommended and much more and, you bet, I intend to focus on death. I do not like the way we in the United States tend to avoid any discussion of death. We seem to want to deny our mortality or at least not be reminded of it. All cultures are not like this. I think, especially, of Mexico where they seem to include the presence of death even in their festivals. I think our denial robs us of living a meaningful life. Just as noise gives meaning to silence and sadness gives meaning to happiness, so death gives meaning to life. I try to stare death in the face, make it my friend and ally. I envision my dying–sort of like rehearsing for it. I want to be intentional about my dying just as I try to be intentional about my living. The dead and the living are woven together in this play and, for me, the final minuet says to me that no one really dies. We live on in other’s hearts and prayers and imaginations. Just as the cells that make up our bodies are composed of cells that have existed for eons, part of the stars, so, for me, we maintain a presence after our death–an energetic, cellular presence. Moises has called this up in this play and it speaks deeply to me just as, I think, it will to Joan.


Joan Halifax (photo: Michael Rudd)

After the play, Joan and I and another friend of hers will go to dinner. We have a lot of catching up to do. I will dedicate my performance tonight to her.

Now for my between-shows nap.

See you next time

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  1. Great pics, Jane. Tulea is really becoming part of Broadway legend! Talking about legends, maybe your Dad’s artist copped him on a bad day, or maybe he drew him in character, Mr Roberts was a pretty serious dude. Yours is great, captures you really well! Ciao from down under.

  2. Oh Jane, you will miss all of this – deeply. I will be thinking of you when all of this is over. And I know, you will be back, sooner than you think. The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. Finally, you’ve discovered theater.

  3. good post Jane, nice to see you having such fun.
    Your very right about death , I recall teaching from a book years ago it was called “grandma died ” or something close to that and the younger class of children were saying that death was a bad thing and had the idea that talking about it was wrong. I even had a parent contact me about the book and I had to remined her it was a award wining book. Death and pregnancy are still subjects that one must contend with in our learning environments.

  4. It’s a beautiful portrait!

  5. Jane–Love the portrait!

    And especially LOVE,LOVE, LOVE your video on http://www.gPOWER2009 Wow! We are so fortunate to have you as an ardent advocate for young people.

    I have “powered the grid” and have gotten my friends to join the movement, too.
    Thanks for taking the lead!

  6. I think you are spot on about death. It now scares the shit out of me, didn’t used to scare me until my mother took her own life and my loving father died a very hard death. All this within the last 3 years of my relatively young life seems to have left me a bit shell shocked. I can’t wait to read what you will write about it in your new book.
    Love, love , love your portrait! Congrats. Let us know where they hang it! : )
    As always, thanks Jane…

  7. Great portrait of you; however, would not have recognized your father!

  8. I am Sally from Buffalo – I wrote you a note after the matinee today and hope you received it

    I the play and found your comments on your blog quite interesting. I sat next to a lovely woman – another solo traveler – and we shared our joy in your career, our interest in your book, our admiration of all the Fondas. She was weeping at the end. We hugged and thanked each other for being able to share the afternoon. Don’t you love it?

    My husband wanted me to wait to see the play in June when he could accompany me to NYC. So glad I didn’t wait. I understand you will only be playing for one more week. Talk about luck…

    Continued success.

  9. Hi Jane–

    Just wanted to say how much fun it has been to read your blog and follow your journey the past few months. I checked it out on a whim one day and have been a frequent visitor ever since. Your openness, curiosity, drive, and generous spirit are inspiring.

    I feel a little bit of a connection to you. I played Chelsea a few years back when it was done on Bway with James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams. It was an amazing experience, though it too a bit of work to get your performance out of my head!

    Looking forward to seeing the show before it closes–I better get a move on…Enjoy your last weeks…


  10. Jane, these photos are great! Thank you so much for sharing them! I love your caricature. You do look quite happy, whereas it seems like your dad’s is more stern. Looks like you had a blast at the party–awesome!

    You’re right about the topic of death in America. It’s odd how uncomfortable people become when the subject is brought up. I look forward to your next book and all you have to discuss about death.

    I hope the show goes exceptionally well tonight!!!

    All my best,

  11. Very nice post Jane. I am relatively new to thinking of all of this…but more and more I believe that time and existence, life/ death all exist on parrallels.I have been reading a lot of Shirley Maclaine in the past couple of years-as well as Shambala Sun,Ekhart Tolle, and other progressive texts…death has not scared me in a long time. Not since I was about four…but there is another story… Anyway, I for sure have come to think more and more of all of these things as existing on a continuum…in the universe. From me who knows very little lol. Anyway, your agent is a hottie!

  12. Also, I think it would be a great idea(I will try it sometime) to celebrate the day of the dead.

  13. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone say they plan to be intentional about their dying…until now. Inspirational. πŸ˜‰

  14. Beautiful way of looking into death – or, as I learnedl, a new beginning. Life never ends, it just depends on how one looks into it. Its is indeed important to remember that the body will go one day – as anything that is material – but there’s much more to the life that is ahead of us.
    And I know some people who are what we call alive but are dead inside – that is what I call real sadness.
    Thank you for taking that message to people.
    Much Love.

  15. Jane!
    I love the picture. It’s amazing! Looks just like you.

    I read what you said about death. I’ve always thought dying is a part of living. Everyone dies. I don’t think you’re ever too young to think about dying. I don’t mean wishing to die, I mean thinking about what it’ll be like. Personally I think instead of having funerals where the family is sad, we should have parties to celebrate their life and all their success. Maybe if we reacted to death as a celebration of life, it wouldn’t be so hard on the family.
    Its true that you become sad when somebody passes away because they aren’t with you physically anymore. I always remind myself when I get sad over my grandmother’s death, that she is still here with me spiritually and will always be looking after me.
    Death is NOT something we should fear. Not living is something we should fear! If you get what I mean!
    Just a thought. =)

  16. Jane: I saw the show on a whim when I came to NY in February while it was still in previews. Keeping up with your blog has forced me to see it again this Sunday. As a music teacher I find the plot so interesting. So I’m coming to the city to catch it again. Best wishes to you for a great performance.

  17. I am looking forward to reading your upcoming book. I think it is great that you are focusing on death. I know for a fact that death scares me…a lot. I don’t know why, but it does. I know where I’m going after I die, but it still frightens me to think about leaving this life! It could be because of the way that the US just dismisses the idea of it and it isn’t talked about…like you said. I hope your book opens my eyes about it and makes me feel more comfortable with the subject of death.

  18. Loved looking at the photos from Sardi’s!!! How exciting! Your portrait is great! It looks like everyone had fun! Most people don’t think about death unless they’ve lost a family member or have been seriously ill. To stop a moment and really think about “staring it in the face” makes it not so scary! It’s something that happens to all of us. It happens every day in nature and the human world. I think if one has spiritual feelings, it is helpful to see it as a beginning, not an ending.

  19. Dear Ms. Fonda,

    My aunt Gerty and I attended your presentation in Montreal on Monday night and had the great pleasure to meet you. You were so kind to take a photo with me. At that time we mentioned we were coming to see your play and you cautioned us there were few remaining performances. We were so very lucky to obtain great tickets for today’s matinee (May 13) and so we flew in from Montreal for the day. What a phenomenal performance! A true “tour de force”. We were completely blown away by the whole production. This captivating play holds special meaning to us on many levels.

    Thank you for visiting Montreal and thank you for taking the stage and providing us with special memories that we will cherish.

    Warmest regards,
    Lenore Goldfarb and Gerty Handelman
    PS. We hope you enjoyed the flowers!

  20. Jane,

    Wonderful portrait of you, it captured your essence.
    You are always picture perfect despite the long hours.
    I am not surprised to hear you will be intentional in death as you are in living. We will live on in the hearts, prayers, even imaginations, but we maintain a presence after our death- an energetic, cellular presence. For how long do they maintain? Eternity? Interesting.

  21. You’re right. In this country we do not really discuss death. I never thought of that before you mentioned it in your blog. I guess because we don’t discuss it, I purposely avoided the course, ASB 353 Death and Dying in Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Just the thought of “the end” is depressing so I push it out of my mind. I’m sure this is stifling internally and, to an extent, externally. I was interested in learning how other cultures deals with death, but I was too chicken to take a look at how we (in the U.S.) deal with it or not deal with it. It’s weird, I can face the boogey man in the dark alley–head on, but death, well that’s a tough one.

  22. Hi Jane, I’ve been meaning to ask you if your theater provides a listening system , sign language interpreters or anything else to assist hard of hearing or deaf patrons. Some city theaters now have closed captions in designated seats for plays, and many movie theaters in large cities have that or open captions (on the screen, the best option for films). Since Beethoven was deaf and you are familiar with the disability, I hope that there is hearing accessibility. Thanks from a fan who loves movies but can’t go unless they are captioned.

  23. I think it’s great you will be talking about death and dying in your next book. I’m a cancer nurse and I can’t believe the denial of death in our culture. It’s so sad.
    Take care..Debra T.

  24. The portrait captures your beautiful smile and ‘zest’ for life! It’s wondeful. Awesome.

  25. Yes, your agent is a handsome hunk! and you do look way more happier than your dad in your Sardi’s portrait! x

  26. Keep sharing these helpful hints with us. I agree about the dying part. I am watching the Farah special on Friday and I think it is brave with her to take us all on her journey.

    Maybe in the future more of your Father’s relatives will join the picture wall at Sardi’s

  27. I was in New York last week, saw your show. It had been on the top of my list to see as soon as it was announced. You were so good. The show is very interesting, a learning experience, sweep us away. It was one of the finest plays I’ve ever seen, particularly with you in it.

    I’ve been a fan for 40 years and feel we’ve aged as girlfriends together, though you don’t know me from Adam. Even through those exercise videos and walk tapes–which I still use.

    I live in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    One more thing, you look great!

  28. I want to share a quick story with you about death. My aunt and uncle, childhood sweethearts, were married more than 50 years. A few months ago my 82 year old uncle, in the final stages of Parkinsons, was receiving hospice care, his hospital bed in the main room of their home. He was in a light coma. My aunt, who was never sick, had a massive heart attack and died, sitting on the sofa. Very quick death. She was taken to the hospital. Two hours later, my uncle died in his sleep. I truly think that my uncle didn’t want to live without his wife, and decided it was time to die. His affairs were in order. His daughters and son were all with him. We all miss them both terribly, but they wouldn’t have wanted to live without each other.

  29. Dear Ms Fonda,

    I need some serious ( well serious to me ) advice about acting and the whole business last Friday like I said in a post before I went out and had a great time and all and at that event there was a young director who is making a very small budget film and he contacted me over the weekend and told me he has a part that he would like for me to do, at first I was of course yet I mean three months in New York and already something GREAT! you know but then he did tell me some other things that I dont know if im comfortable with no nudity thank god but she is a model and there are scenes with this guy and well i dont know, he wants to start filming next week and I dont want to say yes yet and then back out, you know?..that’s not very professional..any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated my email is [email protected] this may not be the best place to ask for advice but I have no idea what to do and I cannot ask my mom…


  30. Thanks for sharing so beautifully about death and life. Today’s my birthday – a good day to reflect on these. Here in Africa, death is very much a part of life, as we see many die every day. Even though there is so much poverty, people live life to the fullest and appreciate what little they have. They understand that life is not only about material possessions, but very much about relationships. One of the resasons that I love 33 Variations is that it has many messages regarding living life to the fullest and choosing our own path to do it. You are so blessed to share the messages of the play with the world! Take care of yourself as you are counting down the days! Love and blessings to you.

  31. very nice portrait of you…something i dreamed about before, sketching you for a portrait…and someday i may yet get that opportunity i hope (actually can sketch people on the fly or memory, but this does not count unless it is intentional on the part of the subject)…interesting thoughts on the passing of people…i don’t like to use the word death because it is so sad…and i have had animals die in my hands before and it is always sad etc. etc. etc. and i have also consoled a few dying people…and that is actually an uplifting thing to do, a good experience….Buddhists believe that you can exit and be reborn many times, even in the same lifetime, as it is all a matter of conscious awareness…you are not the same person from one moment to the next exactly…or you can attain enlightenment at any time and so escape the cycle of birth and death (samara or reincarnation)…such is more plausible than heaven and hell…practically, what is the consciousness that exists at this moment? It is like a code and can be decoded by someone else reading this, or watching a play even, or a movie…so this is why people write etc. for immortality of a sort…and memories and spirits do live on, as I was really influenced by your live speeches as a teen many years ago, you in your early 30’s, and I still remember your courageous and empathetic consciousness from back then and it still lives on in me, a least when I am not being cowardly or stupid that is…so being courageous and loving is always a good karma and it is instantaneous…you do not have to wait for a physical passing to spread this kind of karma around…but the last moment is very important for Buddhists too, that it be peaceful, and this is why they do not accept suicide or any kind of killing….so if it is peaceful, it is the best example to others still living and the best way to be remembered…or look at it this way: life is always more interesting than death, even if it involves suffering, which it always does, even when we are healthy, and so it is always worth living to do one more interesting thing…even to inspire a care giver by one’s courage…and the last paintings by Renoir, e.g., were a bit fuzzy as his eye sight was going, but they also have more power in a way to them…are a bit more essentially abstract…more of the essence, so too can more of the essence come out of people as they get older and wiser…

  32. Very interesting conversations about death and dying. I started thinking about it after losing both parents, and then having a cancer scare. It certainly made me start living more for today. I think we need to try and do everything that we want while we can.

    I just had a thought. Maybe Moises could write a new play about your ideas on this, and you could come back to Broadway real soon.

  33. Ms. Jane, my husband and I apparently saw the play at the same performance with Joan Halifax in the audience. Good to know she was there–amazing person–and glad you have gotten so much out of her work. Plan to visit her zendo in Santa Fe in August for the first time.

    Also, thanks for the photo of Moises’ partner. My husband and I had a passing acquaintance with them years ago when Moises was directing plays on the lower east side and we’ve been so happy for his success. So talented, that one–a true artist.

    Thanks for coming back to Broadway and helping make this a real season to remember.

  34. Funny how paths cross…we met in Thomasville, Georgia many years ago when Damayan’s Garden Project put in a garden for the community center that you helped make possible. I founded Damayan and was the ED for 10 years before Wendy Chase took over. Vanessa served on the board for quite a long time, as I recall. Now, I’m working with Roshi in the chaplaincy program and here you are again! You’re a gift to this world…I will never forget the strength in your voice as you spoke at that community center dedication, it gave me chill bumps. All the best to you, Jane, and congratulations.

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