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When Greta Garbo and Jane Fonda Spent an Afternoon Together

When the daughter of one of the brightest Hollywood legends meets the 20’s most discussed cinema icon, something extraordinary occurs.

greta garbo femme fatale
Greta Garbo

Jane Fonda met Greta Garbo when she was only 16. At that time, she was visiting the South of France with her famous father, Henry Fonda, and his Italian wife. During the trip, she had the chance to know some of the most important film businessmen, actors and actresses. One day, Greta Garbo stopped by for lunch.

young jane fonda
A young Jane Fonda

“[She] looked at me and said, ‘Would you like to come swimming with me?’ None of the people that ever came there ever noticed me or looked at me… I [said], ‘Yes! I want to go swimming with you.’”

Garbo disappeared to change out of her clothes and returned wearing a bathrobe and a white rubber swimming cap. The two walked to the water and got ready for their swim.

greta garbo and jane fonda

“She dropped her bathrobe, and she was naked,” Fonda says.

“She wasn’t perfect. She was an athlete. She was muscular. She was sturdy. It made me so happy that she was just a good, healthy body. She looked at me right in the eyes and said, ‘Do you want to be an actress?’ And I said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘Well, you’re pretty enough,’” Fonda says. “I was so shocked. I think I had a Cheshire grin on my face for the rest of the day.”

That meeting definitely changed Fonda’s life. But now, when she remembers that experience, just one thought comes to her mind:

“My more mature, smarter part of my brain knew there were a lot of very beloved, wonderful, fabulous women who weren’t perfect,” Fonda says. “But it took me a long, long time to realize we are not meant to be perfect. We’re meant to be whole.”

She says.

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