On Golden Pond (1981) Poster


Jane Fonda claims that the scene between Chelsea and Norman (Henry Fonda) where she tells him she wants to be his friend mirrored the real-life relationship between father and daughter. During one take when the younger Fonda unexpectedly grabbed her father's hand, Henry Fonda started to cry and ducked his head away from the camera, embarrassed by his tears. The take appears in the final film.
The brown Fedora worn by Henry Fonda belonged to Spencer Tracy and was given to Henry Fonda by Katharine Hepburn on the first day on the set. Henry Fonda, overwhelmed with the gesture, painted a still life watercolor of the three hats he wore in the film and gave the original to Katharine Hepburn as a gift. He had 200 lithographs made of the painting and sent one to every person who worked on the film. Each copy was numbered and personally signed by Fonda thanking each person by name. In her autobiography, Hepburn wrote that she gave the painting to screenwriter Ernest Thompson. After Fonda's death, she found the painting to be a sad reminder of him and Spencer Tracy.
The Purgatory Cove scene was shot in late September. To keep warm in the cold water both Doug McKeon and Henry Fonda had to wear wetsuits under their clothes. However, the water level was so low that they could have easily stood up and been only knee-deep in the lake. Katharine Hepburn was supposed to have a stunt double perform her "dive-in" scene for her, but instead she insisted on doing it herself. She dove into the frigid water without a wetsuit.
In the scene near the beginning of the film where Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) calls the operator to see if the phone is working, he looks at a framed photograph on the desk and asks "Who the hell is that?" While the picture presumably is an old photo of Norman, his wife, Ethel (Katharine Hepburn), and their daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda), the photo (circa 1941) actually shows Fonda and four-year-old Jane with Fonda's real-life second wife (and Jane's real mother), Frances Seymour Brokaw.
Henry Fonda won the Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role for his role as Norman Thayer, Jr. At 76 (actually 76 years and 317 days), he was the oldest actor to win the Best Actor Oscar. He is also the only actor to win the Best Actor Academy Award aged in his seventies. Fonda though is not the oldest actor to win an Academy Award for acting as George Burns won a Supporting Actor Oscar for The Sunshine Boys (1975) at age 80 (actually 80 years and 69 days).
This is the only film in which Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda appear together.
Jane Fonda said she was able to cry in this movie because at the time of shooting, Katharine Hepburn was hiding in the bushes shaking her fists at Jane Fonda to get her to emote.
Katharine Hepburn hurt her arm in a tennis match a few weeks before filming. She almost pulled out, but Henry Fonda convinced her to show up to start shooting on day one. One scene was omitted from the film in which you see her pick up a canoe by herself with her sore arm. She never forgave Mark Rydell for editing that scene out.
The movie's line "Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!" was voted as the #88 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
James Stewart had wanted to star in the movie, but Jane Fonda bought the rights to the play before he could.
Henry Fonda was unable to be present at the 1982 Academy Awards ceremony to accept his best actor Oscar for On Golden Pond (1981). His award was accepted on his behalf by his daughter Jane Fonda.
Leftover footage of Fonda and Hepburn driving around the New Hampshire countryside, as seen in the opening credits, was used for the opening of the 1982-90 CBS sitcom Newhart (1982).
As of 2012 this is the only film in which the two lead actors playing a married couple won a best actor and actress Oscar.
Barbara Stanwyck was on call to replace Katharine Hepburn in the event Katharine Hepburn was unable to appear in the film due to surgery she underwent prior to production.
Katharine Hepburn won her fourth best actress Oscar for this role. To date (2013) this makes her the all-time record holder for that category. Hepburn also won for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), and The Lion in Winter (1968).
Troy Garity (son of Jane Fonda; grandson of Henry Fonda) has a small role in this film. It was the only time that young Garity worked with his grandfather.
Gertrude, the canoe featured in the film, was included in a lot of the estate of Katharine Hepburn during the two-day auction hosted by Sotheby's in 2004. The canoe was sold for $19,200 to entertainer Wayne Newton.
Later produced as a live TV production - rare for TV theatrical presentations since the invention of videotape in the late 1950s. It starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer (who had previously co-starred in The Sound of Music (1965)) and was broadcast on CBS on April 29, 2001.
Henry Fonda currently holds the record for the longest gap between acting Oscar nominations. His first nomination was for The Grapes of Wrath (1940) in 1940, his second was for On Golden Pond (1981) in 1981, 41 years later. He received one other Oscar nomination in the period between his two acting nominations, that was for producer of 12 Angry Men (1957) in 1957.
Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda's only film together.
This was Henry Fonda's only best actor Oscar.
Charges were set at the front of the Thayer's boat so that it blew up prior to hitting the big rock in Purgatory Cove. The vintage wooden U22-Sportsman Chris-Craft boat proved so durable that it bounced off the rocks without any damage during the early takes of the scene.
When Katharine Hepburn comes drifting in to the marina on the Thayer's boat she had to get divers to direct her in to the dock.
There was and still is a boathouse on the Thayer's property but the film crew filmed around it so that it wasn't shown.
Walter the Trout was brought over from a local trout pond at the Castle in the Clouds in Moultonboro, New Hampshire. Billy and Norman really threw him back into the lake. People still hope to catch him, but after all these years the fish would be a distant relative.
Adapted from a Broadway play, in which the roles of Norman and Ethel were played by Tom Aldredge and Frances Sternhagen.
The Broadway production of "On Golden Pond" opened at the New Apollo Theater on February 21, 1979 and ran for 126 performances.
Frances Sternhagen was nominated for the 1979 Tony Award (New York City) for Actress in a Play for "On Golden Pond".
Universal's big Christmas release of 1981; Conan the Barbarian (1982) was supposed to have it instead, but when Universal deemed the film too violent for a Christmas release, it was pushed back for release in 1982.
This is Henry Fonda's second last movie. His final movie was a made for TV movie called "Summer Solstice".

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