Before The Breakup, Tom And Jane Were Political Royalty

From the early 1970s on, Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda seemed inseparable. But in 1988 their marriage and political partnership suddenly fell apart. Part five of a five-part excerpt from ``Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda,'' by Christopher Andersen.


They were to become known in due course as the ``Mork and Mindy of the New Left.'' Indeed, save for a shared disdain of capitalism and traditional American values, they seemed to have little in common.

Born Dec. 12, 1940, in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Tom Hayden was raised by his school-librarian mother after his father, a Chrysler accountant, left the family. The Haydens were devout Irish Catholics.

Rebelling against the ``tyranny of the nuns,'' Hayden was a self-described ``hell raiser'' by the time he hit high school. From there, he enrolled in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and after graduating in 1961 headed South to join the civil-rights struggle in Georgia and Mississippi.

Hayden joined with 35 other young activists in December 1961 to form Students for a Democratic Society. Six months later he wrote the first draft of the ``Port Huron Statement,'' which quickly became the Magna Carta of the New Left.

After the riots at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago, Hayden became one of the famous Chicago Eight (the other defendants were Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, Bobby Seale, Lee Weiner, John Froines and David Dellinger) tried on conspiracy charges.

From that time on, Hayden reveled in his status as a full-fledged hero of the movement. Yet even his fellow activists viewed him as a self-aggrandizing careerist. ``Tom gives opportunist a bad name,'' cracked one Hayden sidekick. To Abbie Hoffman, Hayden was nothing less than ``our Nixon.''

Jane Fonda would date the start of their romance to the moment when he casually put his hand on her knee (during an antiwar slide show Jane was presenting at the Embassy Theater in Los Angeles). ``I came home to my roommate (Jane was sharing her small rented house on and off with several women) and I said, `I'm going to marry him.' I just knew it. He was stronger than I was, he was one of the only men that I'd ever met that I knew I would never be bored with - and I knew he wouldn't be intimidated by me.''

Practically speaking, Hayden validated Jane in the eyes of skeptics within the movement who still viewed her as a dilettante. Conversely, she offered him the power, fame, and money that he felt could be harnessed for the movement.

Hayden made his first bid for public office in 1976 when he tried to wrest the Democratic nomination from incumbent U.S. Sen. John Tunney.

From that first defeat for elective office, Tom and Jane learned one hard capitalistic lesson: Money fueled the democratic process. A consummate organizer, Hayden set up the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED) to serve as a launch pad for his next Senate bid in 1982.

Over the next several years, Hayden's CED would embrace a galaxy of causes, from solar power to the rights of secretaries (foreshadowing Jane's 1980 film ``Nine to Five'') to the plight of Cesar Chavez's farm workers.

The Haydens' political machinery was in place, but the question remained: Who was going to pay for it? ``Jane was distraught that she'd have to keep using her own money,'' recalls Jane's one-time attorney, Richard Rosenthal.

Rosenthal remembers a meeting with Tom and Jane to solve the problem: ``We sat on the ground at the ranch in Santa Barbara trying to figure out what kind of business Jane should go into.'' Out of that brainstorming session, Jane's ``Workout'' empire was born.

With all her profits being funneled into the Campaign for Economic Democracy, Hayden's war chest was full to overflowing, and his political career in full stride. With Jane at his side, Tom ran for the California State Assembly in the heavily Democratic 44th District.

Behind closed doors, says insiders, Tom was nothing if not direct about the clout derived from Jane's prodigious income. Recalls one colleague: ``Tom always bragged about his `rich wife.' With her millions, he felt nothing could stop him.''

As for her role in his campaign, Jane told the press, ``I'm there to see that he's happy.'' She was being overly modest. As Hayden's campaign manager, Michael Dieden, put it, ``There's not a political decision this campaign or Tom personally makes that Jane does not play a role in.''

Others inside the campaign claim that both Tom and Jane saw this race as only the first step on a longer road - to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. ``It really irked Jane that, of all the people in Hollywood, the Reagans would end up in the White House,'' says a friend, ``and Nancy Reagan really got on her nerves - this look of rage came over Jane's face anytime somebody mentioned her name.''

But the Hayden-Fonda marriage and political partnership ultimately foundered when Hayden, who was campaigning for Michael Dukakis, was linked to Dukakis speechwriter Vicki Rideout, a woman 20 years Jane's junior.

News of the Rideout liaison hit Jane particularly hard; after a bitter confrontation, the Haydens separated in December 1988, after 17 years of marriage. They managed to keep it out of the papers for three months.

Jealousy was only one of several factors leading to the Fonda-Hayden split. In 1988, Jane had effectively taken CED off the ``Workout'' dole, resuming all control of the millions generated by her fitness empire.

Meanwhile, Hayden, his eye now on the newly created office of California state insurance commissioner, was weighing a secret poll that showed negative feelings about Jane were hurting Tom's popularity with voters. This, needless to say, did not sit well with Jane.

By April 1989, Jane and Tom met secretly in Los Angeles to try to hammer out a divorce settlement. Under California's community property laws, Tom stood to walk away with half of Jane's fortune. In 1988, according to Forbes magazine, Jane made an estimated $20 million.

Jane's initial offer - $1 million in cash and $1,000 a month alimony - was rejected out of hand. When Jane argued that she had poured at least $10 million into her husband's lackluster political career over the years, his lawyers countered that that had been merely a gift between spouses.

The tabloids then reported that Hayden threatened to expose Jane's less-than-generous management style. She had, for example, been reluctant to offer raises to employees at the Workout studios.

In return, Jane reportedly promised to expose details of Hayden's past marijuana use and extramarital carousing. The session ended in a shouting match, with Jane storming out.

Meanwhile, Tom - not Jane - took the first formal step toward ending their marriage, filing for divorce on Dec. 1, 1989. Jane countersued two weeks later. Under the terms of their agreement, Jane was awarded legal custody of their son, Troy. Hayden, according to one source, received close to $10 million. By her 52nd birthday (Dec. 21, 1989), Jane seemed ready to begin again. ``I'm not as macho as several years before,'' she said. ``In the old days I was very driven. Now I'm striving hard to control compulsive tendencies.''

It is not going to be easy. It never has been for Henry Fonda's passionate daughter, one of the most complex and controversial personalities of our time. From sparkling ingenue to sex symbol to revolutionary to fitness guru to CEO to respected actress-producer, she has experienced more incarnations than any other public woman in memory.

Few individuals have inspired such extremes of opinion - from adulation to contempt - and that remarkable range of public regard mirrors the complex of paradoxes one faces in trying to sum her up.

However one tries to analyze Jane Fonda, what emerges from all these conflicting images is an American marvel. As an actress-producer, she is arguably the most powerful woman in the motion picture industry. She is incontrovertibly one of the wealthiest in the entire entertainment world, with an annual income in excess of $20 million. She is also widely regarded to be the founder of the home video industry, one of the world's most commercially successful authors, and the single most controversial figure Hollywood has ever produced.

Who is Jane Fonda, really? It is a question generations will debate. One thing Citizen Jane's admirers and detractors can agree: If her life were a movie script, it would never get produced. Nobody would believe it.

(From the book ``Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda. Copyright, 1990, Christopher Andersen. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, Inc. A Donald Hutter Book. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.)