Jane Fonda was born on December 21, 1937, in New York City. Her father, Henry, was a famous actor and her mother, Frances Seymour, was a socialite who committed suicide in 1950. Jane attended Vassar College for two years. She appeared in her first stage role opposite her father in a 1954 production of The Country Girl in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1958, she studied method acting under Lee Strasberg in the Actors' Studio. In 1964, Fonda went to France, where she met and married director Roger Vadim, who tried to mold her into a sex symbol like his prior wife, Brigitte Bardot. He starred her in The Circle of Love (1964) and Barbarella (1968). The publicity posters for these films were popular pinups for American soldiers in Vietnam. Later, she regretted her nude scenes, explaining that she was "reacting against the attitude of Puritanism I was brought up with."
During 1966 and 1967, Fonda became distressed at reports on French television that American planes were bombing Vietnamese villages and hospitals. Unhappy with her marriage and sincerely concerned about the war, she returned to the United States and worked with the Free Theater Association, which sponsored satirical antimilitary plays and skits in coffeehouses near bases all over America. She participated in demonstrations against the war throughout 1969 and 1970, and in February 1971 helped financially support the Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit, where more than 100 veterans testified about atrocities and war crimes they had either committed or witnessed in Vietnam.
In the summer of 1972, she went to Hanoi and spoke with selected American prisoners and to American soldiers in Vietnam in a radio broadcast. She posed next to an antiaircraft gun used to shoot down American pilots, and journalists, comparing her to Tokyo Rose, dubbed her "Hanoi Jane." Her trip to North Vietnam earned her the rage of American conservatives. In 1978, Fonda won a second Academy Award for Best Actress for Coming Home.