Henry Fonda's Relationship Journey: How Love Defined His Story

Henry Fonda, the famous actor from Hollywood who is no longer with us, left a lasting mark on the world of movies. You might have seen him in some of his iconic films like "12 Angry Men," where he played a pivotal role in the jury room drama, or in "On Golden Pond," a movie that earned him an Oscar for his outstanding performance. 

Fonda had a few important people in his life when it came to love. When he passed away, he was married to Shirlee Fonda, his last wife. But before that, he had been married four times. Afdera Franchetti, Susan Blanchard, Frances Seymour Fonda, and Margaret Sullavan were the names of the wonderful women who were once a part of his life.

Who Was Fonda's Wife At His Death?

Henry Fonda's wife when he passed away was Shirlee Fonda. They got married on December 3, 1965, and their love story lasted until his death on August 12, 1982. Their marriage spanned over 16 years.

ShirleeHenry Fonda with his last wife, Shirlee Fonda SOURCE: Pinterest

Henry's passing was a sad moment for many, and it came after a long battle with a chronic illness. He was 77 years old at the time. About eight years before he left us, he underwent surgery to have a pacemaker inserted into his chest. This medical device helped his heart keep beating steadily to allow him to live his life for a few extra years. 

Fonda And His Last Wife Married Life

The Late actor's marriage to Shirlee Fonda was a significant part of his life. They tied the knot on December 3, 1965, and their union lasted until his passing on August 12, 1982. 

Shirlee, Fonda's wife, was 27 years younger than him, but age didn't seem to matter when it came to their love. Their relationship showed that love knows no age boundaries. They supported each other through the years, sharing both the joys and challenges that came their way. 

Henry And Shirlee's Love Story

Henry and Shirlee's love story is a beautiful tale of how two people from different generations found a deep connection. They first crossed paths in New York, a city known for its vibrant energy and diverse people. 

Shirlee, reflecting on their meeting, fondly described Fonda as an older man. But, she couldn't help but acknowledge his undeniable handsomeness.

Some Information On Late Henry's Wife

Shirlee Fonda, whose birth name was Shirlee Mae Adams, came into this world on February 11, 1932. She was born in the charming town of Aurora, Illinois, USA. 

Shirlee had quite an interesting journey before becoming known as the wife of Henry. She had a career as a flight attendant. Not just that, as her time as a model also added a touch of glamour to her resume.

Who Was Fonda Married To Before Shirlee?

Fonda's fourth marriage was to Afdera Franchetti. They exchanged their vows on March 9, 1957, in the bustling city of New York, where dreams often take flight. 

AfderaHenry Ford and Afdera Franchetti in 1957 SOURCE: Cultura Venezia YouTube Channel

However, as life would have it, Fonda and Franchetti's journey together had its twists and turns. The former couple decided to part ways, officially divorcing on January 7, 1961. 

The Way Fonda Met His Fourth Wife

The story of how Henry Fonda and Afdera Franchetti crossed paths in Rome is a delightful twist of fate. Imagine them standing there, both drawn to the same painting, which depicted two nuns playing tennis. It's an image that combines the sacred and the playful, and it seems to have captured both of their hearts. 

As reported in an article from The Washington Post, at that moment, Fonda and Franchetti's world collided over art. The Oscar-winning actor found himself sharing a connection with Afdera that went beyond the canvas. 

Frachetti Marriage Was Doomed From The Start?

Many onlookers had their doubts about the marriage between Fonda and Franchetti right from the beginning. It's not uncommon for people to have reservations when they see two individuals with different backgrounds coming together. In this case, the surprise came from the fact that their union managed to last five years despite the initial skepticism. 

The doubts surrounding Fonda and Franchetti's marriage stemmed from their striking differences. He was known for his careful spending habits and was often seen as frugal, perhaps even a bit of a penny-pincher. On the other hand, she was known for her love of European luxury and extravagance. This contrast in their financial approaches led people to question whether their marriage could withstand these disparities. 

Susan Blanchard Was Actor's Third Wife

The marriage between Susan Blanchard and "12 Angry Men" actor, Fonda is a poignant example of how sometimes, despite the best intentions, love can falter. They exchanged vows on December 28, 1950. The wedding was an intimate affair held at a very special location—the home of her mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Hammerstein in New York City.

SusanSusan Blanchard in 1977 No Nonsense Control Top Pantyhose Commercial SOURCE: YouTube

But Blanchard and Fonda's journey as a married couple hit a rocky path very early on. Just two months after saying their "I dos," the former husband and wife found themselves living separate lives. It's a stark reminder that while weddings are full of hope and promise, real-life relationships can be far more complex. 

The Failed Marriage With Blanchard

Susan Blanchard and Fonda's marriage lasted until their divorce on May 2, 1956. Even though, they had separated just two months after their wedding.

Blanchard's decision to split from Fonda was rooted in her youthful aspirations and desire for a different path in life. She was quite young when they married (she was 21 while he was 45), and as she reflected on her feelings. She candidly expressed, "I'm young, I want to dance and tell jokes. I need to cut loose." Her words reveal a longing for freedom and adventure, which can be very common in one's youth.

Henry Fonda's Second Wife Took Her Life 

The tragic and deeply painful story of Henry Fonda's second wife, Frances Seymour Fonda, is a heartbreaking chapter. Frances sadly passed away on April 14, 1950, at the young age of 42. Her death was a result of a devastating act of self-harm, as she took her life by slitting her throat with a stolen razor, as mentioned in Country Living's article. 

FrancesHenry Fonda with his second wife, Frances Seymour Fonda SOURCE: Pinterest

This tragic event occurred while Frances was receiving treatment for her mental health struggles in Austen Riggs Psychiatric Hospital. Mental health challenges can be incredibly difficult to bear, and her story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of mental health support and understanding. 

What Led To Frances's Mental Health Suffering?

Frances's mental health struggles were undoubtedly exacerbated by the emotional turmoil she faced in her marriage to Fonda. The heart-wrenching situation unfolded when the actor expressed his desire for a divorce, as he wished to marry his mistress, Susan Blanchard. 

In August 1949, Fonda delivered the painful news to Frances, which must have been an incredibly challenging and distressing moment for her. The impending dissolution of their marriage, combined with the betrayal she felt due to Henry's relationship with Susan, contributed to her mental health suffering. 

About Fonda's First Marriage

Henry Fonda's first marriage was to actress Margaret Sullavan, and their love story had its unique charm. Margaret was just 22 years old when they decided to tie the knot on December 25, 1931. Both of them were pursuing their careers in acting and were performing together with the University Players during an 18-week winter season at the Congress Hotel ballroom in Baltimore, Maryland. 

MargaretHenry Ford with his first wife, Margaret Sullavan SOURCE: Pinterest

Sometimes, love blossoms in unexpected places, and for Fonda and Sullavan, it was within the world of theater. Although their marriage lasted only until March 14, 1933, with them separating only two months after marriage, it was a significant chapter in their lives that contributed to the tapestry of their personal stories.

How Had Fonda Met His First Wife?

Fonda's journey to meet his first wife, Sullavan, was filled with determination and a passion for acting. In 1928, he made a pivotal decision to move to the East Coast of the United States to chase his dreams of becoming an actor. His path led him to the University Players Guild, a summer-stock theater troupe based in Falmouth, Massachusetts. 

It was within the close-knit theater community of the University Players that Henry crossed paths with Margaret. Their shared love for the stage and the performing arts drew them together.

Other Relationships Of The Actor

Henry Fonda had quite a colorful romantic history in addition to his marriages. He was known to have been in relationships with several notable actresses and personalities in the entertainment world. He previously dated Gene Tierney, a celebrated actress known for her beauty and talent. 

There were also rumors about Fonda dating the legendary Barbara Stanwyck, adding a touch of Hollywood glamour to his romantic history. Patricia Farr was another name on his list of relationships, and there were speculations about his involvement with Dorothy McGuire and Tallulah Bankhead. Rumors even suggested a connection with Shirley Ross. 


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