Tom Hayden, a political and social activist who with former wife Jane Fonda formed an organization backing liberal causes, died Sunday in Santa Monica following a long illness. He was 76.
As a student at the University of Michigan, he became a radical and helped develop the Students for a Democratic Society organization. He traveled to the South for civil rights work, and was beaten and arrested at a march in Mississippi. He became an anti–Vietnam War activist, twice visiting Hanoi with an antiwar delegation. In 1968, Hayden played a role in the protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and was prosecuted; he was convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot and sentenced to five years in prison, but his conviction was overturned after it was decided the judge openly sided with prosecutors. By the 1970s, he had a 22,000-page FBI file, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Hayden met Fonda when they were both speaking at an antiwar event in Michigan, and they were reunited a year later at another antiwar event in Los Angeles. They married in 1973 and formed the political organization Campaign for Economic Democracy, later called Campaign California. The group supported liberal candidates and measures, helping pass Prop 65, which requires gas stations, grocery stores, and bars to warn of the presence of chemicals that can cause cancer. In 1982, Hayden was elected to the California Assembly, ultimately serving 18 years in the Assembly and state Senate. Hayden, who divorced from Fonda in 1990, was also an author, publishing books on Cuba, the Iraq War, street gangs, and the environment. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Williams; sons Troy Garity and Liam Hayden; sister Mary Hayden Frey; and stepdaughter Vanessa Vadim and her two children.