On Sunday, we visited the Omaha Community Playhouse on Henry Fonda Drive.

I could feel my emotions building as we pulled up to it. Many of the staff, the Associate Director, Susan Baer Collins and some board members greeted us and gave me time to look at the lit-up wall of photos of shows from the very beginning up to today.

Tears were rolling down my face as I saw photos of my family there.

My dad worked at the Playhouse as a young man, making scenery, painting backdrops. Marlon Brando’s mother was in charge back then and when, in 1926, the lead actor dropped out of the play “Merton of the Movies” with Dorothy McGuire, Mrs Brando asked dad to step in as a replacement. That’s when he was bitten by the acting bug.

Dad in Merton of Movies

Dad in A Kiss for Cinderella. Dad did other plays there as well, and was on the board.

My Aunt Harriet did a play (wasn’t she beautiful!)....

as did Peter, and later, when I was 17, I played the ingenue in “The Country Girl” with Dad and McGuire.

Troy wanted me to stand in front of my Aunt Harriet’s photo for a picture.

This is what The Omaha Playhouse looked like back then.

There are 2 theaters….

.....This larger one is one for musicals and family-type plays

.....and this one is for more sophisticated.

with Troy onstage in the main theater

They are now in rehearsal for the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “August: Osage County.”

They have a larger costume department and scenery shop than just about any Broadway theater and are the largest community theater in the country. All the actors, singers, dancers are local people who volunteer and they’ve started taking some shows on national tours.

These wigs will be used in a future production.

This award is named after Dad and Dorothy McGuire. It is the highest award given by the playhouse.

(continued on next page)

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  1. Ms. Fonda,
    I was at the event at the Holland and have to tell you it was a pleasure to listen in on the conversation between you and Alexander. I did not expect to need a Kleenex for the event but found myself tearing up at several points. Thank you for your honesty and humor.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful comments about Omaha. Wen I moved here over 30 years ago, I never thought I would stay, but it’s simple beauty gets under your skin, and all of a sudden you notice you’ve put down roots?..

  3. Ms. Fonda thank you so very much for this blog post. I have lived in Omaha my whole life and while I see all the beauty and creativity here, sometimes it isn’t so easy to convince others that Omaha is an amazing place. So for you to gush about our beautiful city and the great people, art, restaurants and culture here makes people like me very happy. I have been a fan of you and your work for as long as I can remember–my mom and I even used to do your aerobic videos together! And while I wasn’t able to attend the Film Streams event, I had many friends that did and they all agree that it was one of the most incredible nights of their lives.
    I also have to tell you that my husband and I LOVE The Newsroom! It is one of the most thought-provoking and insightful shows we’ve seen in a very long time.
    Thank you again for coming to visit Omaha and for sharing pieces of your life with Film Streams and on this blog. Please come visit Omaha again soon!

  4. I love how you give details about the places you visit. I would never have given Omaha much thought until you wrote about it. It looks like a neat city with quite a Fonda past. The fact that you were able to visit some of your father’s old stomping grounds is fantastic, especially with your son to soak it all in. In a couple weeks I will be taking my 98 year old grandfather on a road trip to some of his old stomping grounds from his much younger years. I am going to soak in every place and story he shares. Luckily, he is still very much with it mentally.
    I continue to love “The Newsroom”. The writing and acting is excellent. It is now my favorite series by far. Your performance was incredible. I can’t wait to see you on it more. It started too late for this year’s Emmys, but I am positive we will be seeing the bunch of you on stage accepting awards for next year’s Emmys.

  5. Ms. Fonda,
    Many thanks for returning to Nebraska for the event on Sunday. Your calm and heartfelt responses to Alexander made the audience feel like a part of the evening. “Well done”, as I told Alexander in passing at the post-party. It was truly entertaining and enlightening. He and I’ve met briefly and he’s pledged to provide input to our restoration project in Friend, NE. Perhaps next time you visit, we can welcome you!
    I also blog, and my last entry was “nothing happens for no reason”. I enjoyed your photos of the Market and your touring, and I assume/agree that your host is all of those things you blogged about- certainly “creative, original and georgous”, but what struck me even moreso was his friend Dr. Ann. And, again, I refer to my blog…
    I am a consultant for an incredible group of psychiatric pharmacists (CPNP) who are struggling to make their way in to the healthcare field. What my clients do is an incredible service. Along side physicians, psychiatrists and therapists, Psych Pharmacists are key to patient centered healthcare. The VA has some good programs, but the Government can/should do more. AND, emergency rooms and on-the-street access to anyone, Vets, or otherwise, is not sufficient. So, I thank you and Alexander for your comments on stage about the need for access and compassion. And I will hope to reach out to Ann in an attempt to make a difference in the world that is, for me, both tied to creative theater and movies, but also the mental health of our service people and our citizens.
    Thanks for visiting Nebraska.

  6. Hi Jane!!
    I was VERY fortunate enough to fly out from MD to come see you at this event( thanks to my friend and my hubby). I have to say one of my FAVORITE parts was watching you watching yourself on the big screen. There is just something special about watching an artist looking at their own work…so very cool! My next favorite part was MEETING YOU and TROY. It was a SPECIAL treat and you were SO gracious to spend time with my friend Susi and me and sign my On Golden Pond book as well as your Prime Time book. As I said when I met you, I have watched your movies since I was 12( first one being California Suite) and was HOOKED! I was in great need of a strong figure in my life and there you were showing the world that gender should not mean being weak or strong just being the best YOU can be! SO your voice WAS found AND heard 🙂
    I also have to say as I look at your pics here, I took MANY of the same pics you did!! The Playhouse, the pics inside the Playhouse like the stage and of course the pics of your father AND the pic of the OLD Playhouse in that office upstairs!! Too funny! The chinese place (bc you said you ate there) and my friend and i ALSO ate at Ms pub… but we did that after your show.
    Sorry to ramble but I just have to say one more time! That you AGAIN for your time with my friend and me and signing as many things as you could before we were asked to leave. This TRULY was a dream come true!!!! REALLY!!!
    Michelle 🙂

  7. Thank you for supporting Omaha’s Film Stream. I just brought my daughters to see “Klute” yesterday. Your first movie I watched was “On Golden Pond” in China in 1980s when China just opened the door to Western. I was deeply touched, even my English was not good. It remains my favorite movie. I am thrilled the Omaha Film Stream has a “Jane Fonda Series”, which allows me to show my daughters some of the greatest movies. You might be used to hear this. However, I have to say this, you are one of the greatest ARTIST who has touched people’s heart. Thank you!

  8. Hi,
    Have always read about Omaha, your father’s history with the playhouse. The photographs were incredible. An Eagle Scout…to see it through your eyes is magical. Any special reminiscences about Dorothy McGuire?

  9. Oh, Jane. You don’t know how happy you’ve made me with this post. I absolutely adore Laura Dern, she’s also among my favorite actresses (with you, Great Glenn, Barbara Stanwyck, Kathy Bates and Dame Maggie Smith). I was actually desperate to get a picture with the two of you and this is the first I’ve found. You perfectly put why she’s so fantastic.

    Do you watch her show Enlightened? Because if not, you really should. It was an outrage that she didn’t get an Emmy nomination, don’t you think?

    (I also love Alexander Payne’s films, except for his latest, The Descendants, which I didn’t really warm up to. But Citizen Ruth with Laura is fantastic. And Sideways, About Schmidt etc…)

  10. Thanks for sharing this great story. I love that you and Laura Dern were able to connect. I’ve shown Citizen Ruth to thousands of students in my Ethics courses over the years- so hilarious with so many great characters. I haven’t seen Troy since he was a toddler on the campaign trail in 1976- what a fine young man he has become.
    Thanks for all you do.

  11. Thank you, Ms. Fonda, for your wonderful blog about Omaha and your support of Film Streams. I am taking your statement about wanting to see a good movie part for a 74-year old woman as a challenge and will write one. You are truly inspirational.

  12. Dear Jane,
    Thanks so much for who you are. I write to invite you to participate, join us here in Omaha for our One Billion Rising Celebration of the beginning of the end of violence and rape that diminish women across our world.

    Your coming to Omaha for this seems a spectacular match to me.

    Omaha is a central energy in your life.
    Omaha is a central energy in our country.
    This issue is central to our surviving as a species.
    Omaha is RISING. Join us.

    Truly, please consider, you could speak or just dance with us. PLease let me know your thoughts.

    Best to you and yours,
    Jane Martin
    I am a therapist here, who specializes in the healing of trauma.

    • Dear Jane, thanks for the invitation (and i love that One Billion Rising will be happening in Omaha–and 187 other countries and still counting!) but I have made a commitment to rise here in Los Angeles where I live and have been organizing. Send photos of Omaha’s Rise!

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