May 16, 1905 in Grand Island, Nebraska. He was the oldest
of three children, born to William Brace Fonda and Herberta
(nee Jaynes). William Fonda worked as a printer. When Fonda
was still an infant, the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska,
where his father opened a print shop. As a child, Fonda
liked to write, winning a short story contest when he was
ten years old. Two years later he began working in his father's
shop after school. Discovered the Theater
graduating from Omaha Central High School in 1923, Fonda
entered the University of Minnesota to study journalism.
William Fonda insisted that his son hold a job while in
college, and Fonda held two. He worked as a physical education
instructor at a settlement house and for the telephone company.
The strain of maintaining two jobs may have contributed
to Fonda's dropping out of school after about two years.
In 1925, Fonda returned to Omaha, to look for a job in journalism.
A friend of his mother's, Dorothy Brando (mother of famous
American actor Marlon Brando), offered him a chance to audition
for a part at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Dorothy Brando
was an amateur actress and very involved with the group.
Despite his inexperience, Fonda was cast as Ricky in You
and I. Though initially unsure of himself, Fonda grew to
love the experience. Soon he was spending a significant
amount of time at the Playhouse, performing odd jobs such
as ushering and set building.