This Is How Jane Fonda Remembers Her Time With Marilyn Monroe

Spend a bit of time running around Hollywood showbiz circles and you'll most likely hear the name "Lee Strasberg" mentioned more than a few times. Lee Strasberg was internationally known for his portrayal as Hyman Roth in "​​The Godfather: Part II." But behind the scenes, he was one of the most impactful coaches to ever teach acting. Lee Strasberg first started coaching in 1931 and continued to do so for decades before his death in 1982. The Lee Strasberg Theater & Institute still teaches his method to aspiring actors to this day. Alumni of the Lee Strasberg Theater & Institute include Hollywood heavy-hitters like Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Alec Baldwin, and Jane Fonda.

Considering the length of time Strasberg dedicated to teaching, not to mention how wildly popular and successful his methods were, it's no surprise that there have been some interesting celebrity pairings sitting in the student section. In fact, it was in Lee Strasberg's acting class that Jane Fonda and Marilyn Monroe crossed paths.

In an interview with The New York Times, Fonda described seeing the almost-mythical-like allure to Monroe in the flesh, "She glowed! There was a glow coming out of her that was unbelievable! It came from her skin and her hair and her being. I've never seen anything like it."

Marilyn Monroe was terrified of being a fraud

While living in New York as a Vassar College dropout, Jane Fonda began studying under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in the late 1950s. Fonda, who hails from three generations of award-winning actors, made her debut at the age of 23 in the Broadway play, "There Was A Little Girl," and the movie "Tall Story" (via Britannica) both pieces hitting the scene in 1960.

It is Lee Strasberg, who would eventually connect Fonda to model-turned-actress Marilyn Monroe. According to a "Late Show with David Letterman," interview, the "Monster In Law" actress revealed Monroe's true persona was nothing like the vivacious bombshell portrayed in film and photos. Instead, the "Some Like It Hot" star was timid, scared even.

"She'd sit there with no makeup on, and a little babushka around her head. Very quiet ... It's the strange thing about celebrity, on the one hand, she knew she was the most famous person woman in the world and the sexiest and the most sought after. On the other hand, she always thought, 'This is the day they'll find out I'm a fraud.'"

"I loved her."

In a YouTube clip of the interview, Jane Fonda went on to tell David Letterman that Marilyn Monroe would sometimes show up to events hours late because the thought of needing to perform in front of so many people would make her physically ill. "I wonder if ... today if a person had that problem, we could find help for that person," Letterman posited.

"There's always a pill," Fonda quipped. But in all seriousness, the two Hollywood legends are right. Marilyn Monroe was notoriously tormented by all the fame and attention poured onto her. Had there been better resources for the tortured starlet, her life could have potentially extended beyond the cruelly short 36 years she was on this planet. Still, Monroe left a lasting impact for someone who died at such a young age. "It was like she was carrying a light inside her. There was something incredible about her. She was so luminous ... I loved her," Fonda concluded. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.