Jane Fonda And Lily Tomlin’s Over Four-Decade Friendship Transcended From Reel To Real-Life

Nov 30, 2022 by apost team

If Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s friendship isn’t the epitome of friendship goals, then we don’t know what is. Theirs has withstood the test of time – and one that’s certainly an inspiration for women regardless of age.

While the younger generation might recognize Fonda and Tomlin as the stars of the longest original Netflix series "Grace and Frankie," longtime fans of the two actresses very well know that it isn’t the first time they worked with each other.

But how did their friendship start? How long have they known each other? Well, let’s get to know each of them first.

Fonda, for one, is a true multi-hyphenate in many ways. Known for being one of the most beautiful women in the world, Fonda is not only gorgeous but extremely talented and intelligent to boot. Now 84 years old, the actress is still actively working in Hollywood, with her show "Grace & Frankie" in its 7th and final season.

The daughter of actor Henry Fonda and socialite Frances Ford Brokaw, Fonda was born on Dec. 21, 1937, in New York City. Named after Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, she was actually distantly related to her on her mom's side.

Meanwhile, Tomlin is a beloved comedian whom some people might not know is extremely hilarious. She has enjoyed a massive career that's spanned several decades and included guest appearances in various movies, talk shows and variety shows. 

Tomlin was born in 1939 and started a career as a stand-up comedian in the 1960s. Tomlin appeared in Cher’s self-titled talk show where they did a comedy sketch together. Tomlin took on a character she developed in the '70s called Ernestine. For her film debut in "Nashville," she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin (1980), (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Fonda recalled the first time she met Tomlin while developing a comedy film called "9 to 5."

“I heard Lily Tomlin was in downtown LA doing a one-woman show called ‘Appearing Nitely’ and I went by myself. And I was just knocked off my feet,” Fonda said in an interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show."

Years later, the two reunited on screen, working together again in the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie" – and they have only become closer by the day. But what makes them so close to each other? 

“We’ve been friends ever since. We’re friends because I just love her. I know Jane has my back whenever she can,” Tomlin told the Washington Post in 2017. 

“I cannot believe the funny bone that she has and I have loved her from the moment I saw her,” Fonda said in an interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

But Fonda and Tomlin aren’t the only ones who are close to each other. They also have Dolly Parton whom they co-starred with in the film, "9 to 5." That onscreen friendship transcended offscreen and the three have been close friends ever since.

Unlike Parton, Fonda and Tomlin spent several years working together in a show which lasted for several seasons. Fonda said her friendship with Tomlin just grew stronger and deeper throughout the years.

In April 2022, they appeared in a video for Vanity Fair where they played a game that tested how well they know each other. Tomlin, who won the game, said in jest: “We try to know each other. But you know, I’m an enigma. I can never be fully plumped."


Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda (2015), (Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

They have already gone through a lot in life and they were even arrested together once on the steps of the US capitol while participating in a demonstration over climate change. On her activism, Fonda told CBS Sunday Morning: “I think a lot of that comes from my father.”

Fonda said working with Tomlin for seven years on "Grace and Frankie" gave her the chance to get to know the latter more. And if there’s one thing Fonda has proven about Tomlin, it’s that she’s really a good person deep down.

“You know, I mean, you get to know each other pretty damn well because, you know, in a movie, it’s a relatively short period of time. And you can fake it, you know, be a good person. But over seven years, if you’re not really a good person, it shows. And guess what? She’s a good person,” Fonda added.

Having spent years filming the show, Fonda admitted she is no longer used to not having Tomlin around. “When I’m not with Lily for a few days, I miss her. It’s visceral,” Fonda told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview.

Fonda and Tomlin’s friendship is just so pure – and the former credits it to her co-star and best friend’s humor.

“She has a humor that comes from deep within. It’s soulful, it’s not cynical, and it’s never at anyone’s expense. She’s the first one to credit her lifelong partner, Jane Wagner, for the quality and depth of her humor, but she’s the one that embodies it and brings it to life with her different characters,” Fonda said.

Well, they certainly aren’t just friends – they are sisters!

Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda (2017), (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for CDG)

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