AN ECLECTIC WEEK OF EXCITEMENT PLUS BOB REDFORD

It started in New York where I was honored at the Stoney Brook University gala. The annual gala raises scholarship money as well as funds for one of the university’s centers. In the past, for example, actor Alan Alda was honored and funds went to the science center where he is a visiting professor. This year funds went to the Center For Men & Masculinities whose work I support. (See my blog of March 17th). I was happy to be seated next to biographer Hannah Pakula, who was married to the late Alan Pakula who directed me in “Klute,” “Comes a Horseman” and “Rollover.” Here we are with journalist Carl Bernstein who is a visiting professor at Stoney Brook.

chaplin-01

University president, Samuel Stanley Jr., donned a head band and executed some jumping jacks to demonstrate why he felt he knew me well though we’d never met before (he used to watch his wife do my workout videos).

chaplin-02

I made brief remarks about why the work of the Center for Men & Masculinities is important.

chaplin-03

The next morning I flew to Albany, NY and drove to the town of Troy for my 60th high school reunion at Emma Willard. EW was and remains an exemplary all-girls boarding school.

chaplin-04

chaplin-05

Troy is an economically depressed city but a charming one though on that particularly somber, frigid day it does look that way. You can just make out Emma Willard’s tower looming behind the trees. My heart began to race! So many memories–4 years worth.

chaplin-06

Then Sage Hall appeared where I lived junior and senior year

chaplin-07

and then Slocum where many of the classrooms were as well as the library and study hall.

chaplin-08

Not only is the campus strikingly beautiful with its hewn stone buildings, turrets and gargoyles, it provides probably the finest high school academic program in the country, including a state-of-the-art science building which is very unusual for an all-girls school. (Take that Larry Summer!). I attended EW for all 4 years from ages 13-17 and, while I complained a lot at the time about the strictness, (at school dances with visiting all-boy’s schools we were measured to make sure we were never closer to our dance partner than 6 inches!) I have realized looking back, that it was the greatest gift my father could have given me. I have been back before– made 2 commencement addresses, a convocation speech and attended my 25th reunion.

In 2000 I created a scholarship fund. Here I am with 4 remarkable young “Fonda Scholars” –freshmen and sophomores–looking at our yearbooks. L to R: Lynette Crews, Sarah Parks, Alyssa Thomas and Emma Wolfe-McGuire. It was so moving and such fun to spend time with them, although I was stunned at some of the traditions that have fallen by the wayside such as school uniforms and required Sunday chapel.

chaplin-09

Here is Kaybern Cuffy, another Fonda Scholar who graduated several years ago. She now has a doctorate in Play Therapy and intends to work with traumatized children, something which touches me deeply.

chaplin-10

Here I am with senior Lily Whiteman rehearsing a scene from Donald Margulies’s play “Collected Stories” which we performed the next day at the convocation before 750 assembled students, faculty and alumnae.

chaplin-11

She is an exceedingly gifted young actor and I’m sure I’ll be hearing about her in the future.

chaplin-12

I loved having all the young ones around. Many international students.

chaplin-13

That night I had dinner 4 of my old classmates, Pat Johnson, Lolly Espy Barton, Ann Gumar Johnson and Diane Fuller Doherty. I like reunions–having the chance to reconnect, compare notes. It makes me take stock of my life–what other choices I might have made; how my cognitive skills have survived (or weakened). We were sad that more of our classmates hadn’t come. This was likely due to time of year (past reunions have been held in the summer when it’s easier to get away); the fact that unlike the past, we had to stay in a hotel in Albany and not in the dorms (which were filled with students); and of course many have died (including my best friend and roommate Carol Bentley). I was shocked when I saw the woman in the face mask. This was a classmate!!! Then I discovered it was Pat Johnson, someone I’d been hoping to see. Pat has developed life-threatening allergies to all sorts of chemicals and, as a result, she had not been out to dinner in 5 years!! She can take her mask off and be free from the oxygen tank when she’s outside and when she does, the old, high-spirited Pat we all remember reappears in all her riskiness. Back in the 50s we all figured Pat was gay but we had no words to talk about it, even amongst ourselves. No one would have come out back then. I have often thought about Pat and wondered what had become of her so it was wonderful to reconnect and see that she has married a renown concert violinist (I regret I missed her name), retired from her work in publishing and now lives on a horse farm– turns out she has no allergies around barns and horses.

I was also very happy to be able to spend time with Lolly Espy, the great beauty in the class of ’55. A truly serious beauty from Savannah, GA, who was also so sweet and humble that no one ever begrudged her anything –even when she snuck off once on an illegal weekend to the all-men’s Williams College where she was crowned Winter Festival Queen, thereby having her cover blown which resulted in her being suspended for several weeks. Lolly is one of the few alumna with whom I have stayed in touch over the years.

chaplin-14

On Saturday I flew to Washington D.C. To attend the White House Correspondents Dinner escorted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. I’ve known Wolf since 1991 when he covered the 1st Gulf War and I was the wife of Ted Turner.

chaplin-15

Wolf was a charming, gallant host and on his other arm was Marie Harf, spokesperson for the State Department. I was surprised by how young she looks for someone with such an important job. Couldn’t resist taking a selfy in the car on the way.

chaplin-16

A lot of pictures were taken on the red carpet but I couldn’t get anyone to take some with my camera. Here’s one of me being interviewed by CNN.

chaplin-17

I got a chance to hug my friends Ashley Judd, Linda Cardinelli, Laverne Cox and Connie Britton and Ava DuVernay, director of “Selma”

chaplin-18

chaplin-19

chaplin-20

chaplin-21

Before the dinner began Connie and I were invited into a side room to be photographed with the President and First Lady. Be still my heart!

chaplin-22

chaplin-23

chaplin-24

Coming out of that private room we ran into Bradley Cooper. Whew! There’s the heart thing again!

chaplin-25

Here’s the ballroom at the Washington Hilton where the dinner of 3000+ was held.

chaplin-26

Things started off with the honor guard bearing flags.

chaplin-27

Wolf put together a great table: Secretary of Health & Human Services, Sylvia Burwell

chaplin-28

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice

chaplin-29

It was thrilling to be surrounded by smart women in positions of power. Jeff Zucker and his wife Caryn were seated beside me. At the surrounding tables were Donald Trump creating quite a stir, Martha Stewart, Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State with Tea Leoni (star of “Madame Secretary”) on the arm of her co-star, Tim Daly. Talk about a handsome couple! I got a chance to tell Tea that my grandson is going to her Alma mater, Putney School in Vermont.

When time came for President Obama to be funny, he didn’t disappoint. The man is a serious comic…perfect timing, dry, laid back. Cool. Cecily Strong from Saturday Night Live was also funny– got some real zingers in. But not as funny as the Prez.

I really like the way Michelle O did her hair

chaplin-30

After the dinner some of us— no, a lot of us, it was really crowded– moved on to the Vanity Fair after-party at the French Ambassador’s home co-hosted by Michael Bloomberg (divinely charming) and Graydon Carter.

This is what the lawn looked like as we walked up

chaplin-31

I ran into Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Fergussen. Both too nice! Jesse is in rehearsals with Sam Waterston for, is it “Much Ado”? They’ll perform in Central Park in June. We were gushing about Sam and Jesse said Sam came to the first rehearsal already off book (he knew all his lines!!!) what a consummate pro.

Wolf was kind enough to take me home early cause I had an early morning plane to catch to New York where I was joining my pal, Paula Weinstein, to see a matinee of David Hare’s brilliant play “Skylight” starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan both of whom gave breathtaking performances. Wow.

Monday I was the opening ‘number’ at the Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award honoring Robert Redford. I wore this Schiaparelli outfit.

chaplin-32

chaplin-33

I had to sum up my 50-year friendship with Bob R in 5 minutes but I got to say how I’d always been in love with him–on every movie– but that it was good we were both always married cause it never would have worked. We’re too much alike– loners essentially (though you’d never know it from this blog) and kinda moody. I got to tell how he used to love to scale sheer surfaces with his finger tips like Spider-Man only for real.

Elizabeth Moss, John Turturro, Quentin Tarrentino also spoke as did others for whom the Sundance Institute has been a seminal experience. Barbra Streisand presented Bob with the award to close the evening, we all posed together…

chaplin-34

And went to a gorgeous dinner in the Time Warner building where I got to sit next to Tommy Tune and have an AMAZING conversation. What a special guy!

chaplin-35

I got up at the crack and flew to Atlanta to tape a video about my non-profit GCAPP which will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Sept 11th (when the video will be shown).

Needless to say, the whole week was a little out-of-body: prep school, parties and red carpets while Baltimore is in flames, Nepal devastated, and immigrants by the 100s dying at sea. The good news is Pope Francis is stepping up to the climate debate.

Share This Post
8 Comments
  1. Great post, as always. I love seeing how much like a nervous little child on a christmas eve, you looked like next to Obama, if you don’t mind me pointing out. xD

  2. Hi Jane…Whew! I feel like I need a nap after reading about your busy, busy week! So many thoughts provoked by this blog entry. The first being that you talk about class reunions then, in almost the next breath, mention one of my college classmates/friends, Ashley Judd. We were in the same class at the University of Kentucky back in the day. She was a theatre minor (and, I believe, was majoring in French and Anthropology) and I was a theatre major and we had several classes together. I haven’t seen her in years…well, in person, that is…but I have always regarded her as one of the most intelligent and brave women I know. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that you two are friends! Next, you describe the POTUS’s comic genius (which I agree with, btw) and it reminded me of the other day when I was watching the clip of the comic routine you are talking about with the gentleman from SNL. As I watched that I thought I saw you in the audience and asked myself “Was that Jane Fonda?” Thanks for clearing that up for me! What else? Oh yeah, I LOVE Robert Redford…always have…since I first saw the two of you in Barefoot in the Park. And, finally, regarding your comment about Pope Francis…as someone who was raised Catholic but lost faith in the Church with the last…how should I say…Papal Administration, I am so relieved to see this Pope getting back to the basics of what it is to be not only Catholic but HUMAN. What a breath of fresh air! I think he really gets it. Even, miracle of miracles, about the rights of women (as he has mentioned in the last week…I’m interested to see how far he goes with that). Not that I’m ready to dive right back into the Church…I have found other paths to faith…but Pope Francis has given me hope for the future again….and that is so refreshing!
    Thanks again for sharing your week with us! I’m looking forward to next Friday and G&F! Take care & rock on,
    Mel

  3. Very proud to know that the Jewelery you wore at White House is from Brazilian brand, H. Stern !
    It has been the talk of some papers and blogs here, where you are absolute loved !! xo

  4. This was a very fun blog entry to read! You sure do live your life to the fullest! Wow! So many cool things! I absolutely LOVE the picture of you and the Obamas! How awesome is that! And the Bradley picture is right up there with Obama! Your school looks fascinating. It looks quite old. I am curious if the inside has the same charm and historic look as the outside. Beautiful. And then there is Robert Redford. Wow! Everything was so fun and interesting to read about. Thank you! (And so very sad about Nepal, the immigrants, and Baltimore. It makes you want to reach out and embrace the whole world.)

  5. I couldn’t get over how tiny you look compared with Michelle Obama.

  6. It is stupefying that Jane can write a blog like this in such a busy week. Thank you Jane for confiding in us. I would probably agree with non of your politics but greatly admire your sincerity, concern for others, and openness. You have a first-rate mind and temperament. I am greatly impressed that you’re able to express regret for some of your actions. Not all of us can and who of us hasn’t many similar reasons? Anyone who does anything will make mistakes, but taking initiative is seldom easy and clear-cut. I think it’s tragic that you consider yourself a loner. I want to know more about your life and will follow your blog. Good luck, GOOD luck, to you and a long and happy life.

  7. HI Jane,
    I’m glad you mentioned the immigrants in the last section of your blog. I just finished a month’s vacation in Southern Crete and every day I would look out towards Africe and think about them. Crete is too far for the boats to travel to, so they go to Lampedusa. When you look out at the Mediterranean it Looks so easy to just take a boat and cross to Europe, where a ‘better’ life is waiting. But the Med is treacherous. I hope we find a solution soon. Here in Hamburg, we have a large group of Lampedusa refugees living in a church, waiting to see whether the German government will let them stay (which they seem reluctant to do, sadly). I hope we find a solution soon.

    Grace and Frankie looks hilarious. I have Netflix here in Germany, but I have no idea whether they are going to show it yet. Hope so as I have another week’s Holiday and I could watch an Episode every day. I like to pace myself. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a great day.
    Take care
    Jason

  8. Update: Yes Netflix Germany will be showing G&F as of 8th May. ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply