Jane Fonda, Actress


Jane Fonda in Berkeley

Jane Fonda’s Residence: 3016 Bateman Street
Blue Fairyland school: 3031 Bateman Street

Jane Fonda and her daughter Vanessa, child of director Roger Vadim, moved to Berkeley in 1971 while Fonda was working in Petaluma on the anti-establishment comedy crime film “Steel Yard Blues.” The film was consistent with her vociferous activism against the Vietnam War and her private sympathies for the socially marginalized.  They lived on Bateman Street, a tranquil short block that had once been the carriage entrance to the Webster estate.

Three-year-old Vanessa attended Blue Fairyland, a progressive free nursery school run by parents and the Red Family commune, a New Left group whose members included journalist Bob Scheer, editor of Ramparts Magazine, his wife, political activist Anne Weills, and Tom Hayden a founder of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and future state senator. Fonda and Hayden met there, later marrying in Los Angeles in a ceremony officiated by Richard York, pastor of the Berkeley Free Church, an institution committed to social justice issues and providing free food, counseling and health services to the needy.

Fonda was a familiar neighborhood figure. She did her food shopping at the Berkeley Co-op on Telegraph and Ashby. When strangers told her she looked a lot like the actress, she replied “Oh, everyone says that.” Even back then she was health conscious, asking parent participants at Blue Fairyland to prepare fresh beet juice for her daughter.

Both Fonda and Hayden have returned to Berkeley from time to time. For her 73rd birthday, in 2011, Fonda dined with friends at Chez Panisse. Hayden once visited the house where Blue Fairyland had been, unexpectedly finding the original sign on the property. He asked the owner if he could keep it exclaiming, “I painted it!”

Contributed by Diana Kehlmann, 2012

Note: This text was drafted in consultation with Burl Willes and is based on his book, “Tales from the Elmwood: A Community Memory,” Berkeley Historical Society (2000).

  • Blue Fairyland, 3031 Bateman (2013), photo R. Kehlmann.

  • Jane Fonda (2007), photo Georges Biard.

  • Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda (1972), Pinterest.

  • Tom Hayden speaking at anti-Vietnam War Rally (1969), Panopticon Review.

  • Richard York self portrait (ca. 1969) Berkeley Free Church pastor who married Fonda and Hayden, photo Graduate Theological Union.

  • Steelyard Blues Poster, Wikimedia Commons.

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society