|Fonda, center, flanked by Laura Dern and Alexander Payne|
That was in 1926, and the play was "Merton of the Movies" which also starred Omahan Dorothy McGuire. Since then, the Omaha Community Playhouse has become the largest community theater in the United States with, according to Fonda "a larger costume department and scenery shop than just about any Broadway theater "
The Fonda clan is from Nebraska because after the transcontinental railroad was built, Omaha became a central railroad hub and Jellis Fonda, who was trained as a telegrapher and map maker during the civil war, was hired by the UP.
Fonda took actress Laura Dern with her, as well as her son, Troy, who posed on the steps of his grandfather Henry's childhood home, which looks great — and is much bigger than Fred Astaire's South 10th Street childhood home, also still standing.
While here, Fonda got less static from the considerable number of reactionaries in town than she did from QVC, which recently caved in to them and cancelled her 'Prime Time' book promotion appearance.
No visit to Omaha is complete without a visit to King Fong, the oldest Chinese restaurant in the city, which has had the same phone number since 1922. Director Alexander Payne and his wife Ann, Fonda's hosts, just bought the restaurant and took her there.
|Fonda mugging in front of a 1927 playhouse|
poster of her aunt, Harriett, cast in 1927's
The Romantic Age
Fonda was in town for a Filmstreams (Omaha's art house cinema) fundraiser, for which she charged no personal appearance fee and raised $227,000. The Q&A was held at the Holland Center, where about 1300 people saw two-time Oscar-winning director Alexander Payne pick Fonda's brain.
Alexander showed clips of some of my films and the one from “On Golden Pond” lead to an interesting discussion of tensions, universal ones I sometimes believe-- at least with a certain generation—between powerful, remote fathers and daughters who struggle for their love. Susie Buffett told me afterwards that she was very moved by that and related deeply to it.
Below, Jane Fonda in HBO's The Newsroom