SECTION ONE
PAGE THREE

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COLUMN SIXTY-THREE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2001
(Copyright 2001 Al Aronowitz)

AMERICA'S ANSWER TO BARDOT
THE YOUNG JANE FONDA

III.  

Her boyfriend is Andreas Voutsinas, a thirty-year-old Greek who was born in the Sudan, brought up in Ethiopia, educated in London, and inducted into the escalating intimacies of New York's theater salons from a cold-water flat on West 46th Street.  Among, the assorted facts of Jane Fonda's life, he is one of the most important now, and, although an unwilling member of the rivalry, Henry Fonda has found himself the victim of it.

"Don't mention Andreas when you talk to my father," Jane told me, "or that'll bring the interview to an abrupt end.

"Well,? said her father," sitting with me in a conversation about his daughter several nights later, "It won't come to an abrupt end, but we'd have a short pause until we got to another subject."

Endowed with the mask of glibness that is so necessary in theater politics and that at the same time excommunicates him from it, born with a suavity that has all the flavored age of Europe and that at the same time renders him suspect, articulate as a talented director has to be, Voutsinas is as plain-spoken about his relationship with Jane as his immigrant accent will permit him to be.

"Naturally" he told me while sitting in Jane's apartment one day with his feet between the tiger and the leopard, "Jane adored her father for so long, naturally it is hard for him to come to terms with the fact that she also can adore someone else." Voutsinas had dark, graying hair with the shadow of baldness rising rapidly beneath it.  His face was rough and masculine but, like his body, it was also thin and drawn. On the wall was framed photograph of a much more handsome, fuller man. The inscription on the photograph said:

"If we became the shadow of each other it was only because we live above the ground looking at the 'sun'."

The photograph looked nothing like Voutsinas, but, as I expected it to be, the photograph was of Voutsinas.

Voutsinas ran with actresses.  For a while, he'd been Sandra Church's escort.  Another of his good friends was Anne Bancroft, Henry Fonda's counterweight in the stage production of Two for the Seesaw. When Jane first saw him, he was coming to Lee Strasberg's acting classes with Susan Strasberg.  "So," Jane says, "I figured he must be important."

Voutsinas himself says, "Certainly I would not have been interested if she was not Jane Fonda, but at the same time I wouldn't have been able to be interested in the way that I feel now if she wasn't what she is beneath that name.  I suppose I am always drawn to people with a great sadness, and you know, Jane had problems.  After I met her at Lee's, I saw her in a magazine and then I was supposed to assist Arthur Laurents in Invitation to a March, and I thought that part would be good for her.  And she read for the part, and she read brilliantly, and then we became friends.  But it was not in the beginning that we became close.  It didn't start until a year later."

Henry Fonda is only one of many who consider Voutsinas to have become Jane's Svengali, a word they use with both vehemence and frequency.

"I couldn't talk enough about Jane and the good things that Jane has," her father said, "but in one area I think she's got a blind spot.  She's going to get hurt."

"He destroys every friendship," said Arthur Laurents, once a close friend of Voutsinas.  "You just have to wait and he'll do you in."

One of her friends who didn't want to be quoted told me: "He's ruining her career."

And still another friend said, "You should see the way he yells at her when they're rehearsing.  And she just looks at him and loves him."

Not the least of the accusations against Voutsinas is that he led Jane to disaster in The


Voutsinas admits he had fantasies
of becoming
the power behind the throne


Fun Couple, a Broadway comedy that he directed, that starred Jane and that was laughed off the boards after four performances.

Voutsinas admits that he had fantasies of becoming what he calls "the power behind the throne." But on the other hand," he says, "I can't be that much of a Svengali. I really can't, you know. Her father attributes to me all the attitudes and opinions that Jane has had since we've been together.  It's partially true, but basically she does what she wants to do. She believes in things that she wants to believe in.

"You see, no parent likes a change, particularly when that change requires a responsibility on his part. And I'm hurt, very hurt. His rejection of me hurts me very badly, so sometimes I punch out by saying things like, 'At least I come from a family with one marriage." But I don't really mean it that way, and when I do say things like that, it's just shadow boxing.

"For example, I used to go over to her father's house with Jane a great deal until I heard, in a round-about way, that he doesn't approve of me, that he thinks I'm a bad influence on Jane.  You see, he didn't say it to Jane directly, because this is a very indirect family. Actually, I think that my relationship with her father is---it's no more or less than any other relationship between a son-in-law and a father-in-law.  He's jealous or he doesn't like me or I'm not as good as he would like, but as for me, I can't stand to have my father reject me.  And there is no doubt about it.  I mean I did look to him as a father."

Voutsinas has directed Jane in summer stock as well as on Broadway. On her demand, he acted as her drama coach in two of her films, Walk on the Wild Side and The Chapman Report. For Period of Adjustment, he was barred from the set.

"Why don't we get married?" he said.  "Well, we've discussed it, but I wouldn't want to get married until I'm capable of carrying my own expenses on a level which wouldn't be too uneven for her expenses.  Anyway, for my money, I am married to Jane."

Although perhaps unaware of it, he already has made his decision to give up his career as a director to devote himself to Jane.  When he was offered the opportunity to direct another Broadway play next summer, he turned it down.  The reason was that Jane was scheduled to film a movie in Hollywood at the time and she wanted him to accompany her.  In the midst of a growing ostracism, Jane doesn't question her loyalty to Voutsinas, even in The Fun Couple, and she sees no reason why anyone else should.

"I bumped into her at a party last summer," said Arthur Laurents.  "And I said hello to her and she put her hand out.  And then she looked at Andreas and took it back.  And I said "Jane, follow through on the impulse.  If you want to say hello and shake my hand, do.' And she did."

Jane's loyalty to Voutsinas is obviously the loyalty of a wife. Often, on a movie set, in a rehearsal or just among friends, she reaches out and touches his hand.  ##  

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