Jane Fonda is in firm possession of everything a woman could desire. The 77-year-old actress has two Academy Awards, scores of other trophies, one of the great acting careers in cinema history, is a longtime activist for LGBT equality, has beauty, wealth, two talented well-adjusted children, sex appeal, a taut body women half her age would envy and she looks stunning on the cover of the new issue of W magazine. However, the lady’s gaydar was once on the fritz. It’s just as faulty as that of the character she plays on the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, who is shocked to learn that her longtime husband is secretly gay and has been conducting a relationship with his best friend right under her perfect nose.
Fonda, despite growing up the hip Hollywood princess offspring of her movie star father Henry, once believed actor Warren
Beauty Beatty, perhaps Hollywood’s most notorious Casanova, a heterosexual hound if one ever walked on two heels and whose list of lovers includes wife Annette Bening, Natalie Wood, Joan Collins, Julie Christie, Madonna (who famously called him “Pussy Man”), Diane Keaton and countless others, was gay when the two first met in 1959 during a screen test. Seducing women is Beatty’s game and he remembers that during the test the two attractive young actors “were thrown together like two lions in a cage and kissed until we had practically eaten each others’ heads off.” Fonda tells W she doesn’t remember the test at all but offers a confession with a chuckle: “I thought Warren was gay. He played piano, and all his friends were gay.”
Maybe Jane just thought tickling the ivories was secret code. It’s possible that the homosexual friends Fonda recalled were gay playwrights William Inge and Tennessee Williams. The actor turned on the old Beatty charm to land roles in Inge’s coming-of-age dramas A Loss of Roses and Splendor in the Grass, which respectively marked the actor’s Broadway and Hollywood debuts. The veteran writer was referred to at the time as Beatty’s “fairy godfather.” The 23-year-old Beatty likewise worked his charm on Williams to land the lead role of an Italian gigolo opposite Vivien Leigh in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Williams is said to have remarked about Beatty:”He is so beautiful, just looking at him brings tears to my eyes. What a waste.”
On second thought, maybe it’s not so difficult to understand Jane’s confusion about Warren.