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Jane Fonda admits: Oops, I forgot my first Tony nomination!

May 8, 2009 |  7:50 am

When you compete for as many showbiz awards as Jane Fonda, it's easy, apparently, to forget one or two. Yesterday, when Gold Derby interviewed Jane about her current Tony Award nomination for "33 Variations," she became startled, but intrigued, by our mention of her first Tony bid as we chit-chatted after the formal video interview was over.

"I was nominated for a Tony for 'There Was a Little Girl?" she gasped.

Yep, she was nominated for best featured actress for her 1960 Broadway debut in "There Was a Little Girl." a drama about the rape of a 21-year-old virgin. (She lost to Anne Revere for "Toys in the Attic.")

Jane_fonda_33_variations_tony_award

When I wrote up the blog item about our chat yesterday, I decided not to mention the potentially embarrassing fact that she forgot she was nominated for a Tony decades ago, but Jane Fonda just fessed up at her own blog, so let's tell the rest of the story.

First, let's set up the scene. Paul Sheehan, who frequently writes for The Envelope, ran camera yesterday while I gabbed with Fonda. As soon as the interview was formally over, Paul and Jane yapped about some other Tony news that startled her: the fact that her father, Henry, won the second Tony ever bestowed for best actor in a play ("Mr. Roberts," 1948). Paul added some dishy trivia that fascinated her: the fact that Tony champs back then didn't receive medallions like they do today. Instead, men got an engraved cigarette lighter and women got a makeup compact.

Always honest and forthright, she posted at her blog, "I ask myself now why I have no recollection of this nomination. Perhaps, as someone just suggested, the Tonys weren't as big a deal as they are now. I mean–a COMPACT!!! Come on! But probably it is because the whole experience was so fraught for me–not pleasant at all for many and complex reasons which you can read about in my memoirs if you are interested. Life is so very different for me now. I am so very different. And, most importantly, this experience with '33 Variations' has been one of the most exciting and rewarding of my life."

Were Jane Fonda to take the Tony, she would accomplish something her famous father did not manage to do in his illustrious career — win the acting triple crown of Oscar, Emmy, and Tony awards. Jane Fonda prevailed in two of her seven Oscar bids ("Klute" and "Coming Home") and she won an Emmy for her lead role in the TV movie "The Dollmaker." Yesterday she told us that this hillbilly woman was her favorite filmed role.

Henry Fonda won that Tony in 1948 and an Oscar for "On Golden Pond" in 1981 (Jane proudly told us she bought the play and produced the film just for her father). However, he did not win any of his three Emmy nods for lead actor in a TV movie: "The Red Pony" (1973), "Clarence Darrow" (1975) and "Gideon's Trumpet" (1980).

Only two of the 10 people to pull off the grand slam of all four major showbiz awards won their Oscar, Emmy and Tony for acting — Helen Hayes and Rita Moreno (Hayes got her Grammy for spoken word while Moreno won for children's album). An additional 14 performers have won these top honors for their skills as thespians — Jack Albertson, Anne Bancroft, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Booth, Melvyn Douglas, Jeremy Irons, Thomas Mitchell, Al Pacino, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Paul Scofield, Maggie Smith, Maureen Stapleton and Jessica Tandy.

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