The Tearful Moment Jane Fonda Shared With Father Henry Fonda Before His Death

Jane Fonda has always been honest about her tumultuous relationship with her father, Henry Fonda. Growing up, she had a hard time communicating and relating to him, especially because they had varying beliefs and principles.

In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, the film icon compared her relationship with Henry to their roles in "On Golden Pond," in which they also played father and daughter. "The character he played was just like him in life, someone who had a hard time expressing his feelings and his emotions," she said. "He used acting as a mask behind which to hide his emotions; he abhorred anything that showed his vulnerability." She admitted, however, that she still "adored" him despite his stoic personality. "He was a good man with wonderful integrity."

Jane's brother, Peter, echoed the same sentiment, recalling how they never got excited about conversing with their father when they were young. "Growing up with my father was not easy," he told The Virginian-Pilot in 2019. "Jane and I didn't look forward to having dinner with him. It's just that he was quiet and didn't talk much and we felt he was judging us, and we didn't do much that was right. The dinner table was a scary place." But, while the Fonda siblings were largely estranged from their dad well into their adult life, Jane recalled one moment before Henry's death that had a massive impact on how she viewed him.

Jane Fonda tried connecting with her father at the end of his life

While Jane Fonda had long accepted that her father, Henry Fonda, was not a communicative person, she still tried to connect with him toward the end of his life. She made sure that he knew how much she appreciated him, even though they were never close.

"All I could do was my end, to tell him at the end, 'I'm sorry that there were times when I made you unhappy. I'm sorry that I wasn't always a great daughter. I totally forgive you for not always being a great father,'" she shared with Andy Cohen's show on SiriusXM. "'I know that you did the best you could. I promise you that your wife Shirley will remain in the family forever.'" She even said that it was the first time she had seen him cry behind the cameras. "I know that he took in what I said to him. He cried and that was it," she added. "That's an example of luck."

In her interview with The Guardian in 2020, Jane said that she was also grateful to get the opportunity to star in a movie with Henry, as he passed shortly after filming. "I'm just the luckiest person in the world. The fact that I was able to do that movie with him right before he died, because he died five months later," she recalled. And when they both got nominated for an Oscar, but only Henry won, Jane was happy to receive it on his behalf. It was "the happiest moment of my life," she said.