Fonda Reprises A Famous Role At Peace Rally

"She's a high-profile, outspoken American," actor Sean Penn said of Jane Fonda, above, who also drew attention for going to Hanoi during the Vietnam War, below, which was viewed by many as sympathetic to North Vietnam. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 28, 2007

For her next act, Jane Fonda has entered the war against the Iraq war. At the tail-end of yesterday's on-the-Mall rally, organized by United for Peace and Justice, Fonda stood onstage with the Capitol behind her and addressed the sun-drenched thousands. "I haven't spoken at an antiwar rally in 34 years," she said. But, "Silence is no longer an option."

The first time Fonda, 69, spoke out for peace, the country was soul-deep in the Vietnam War. In the ensuing decades, as the nation has gone through a slew of changes, so has Fonda.

As a young woman, the daughter of actor Henry Fonda was an actress, a feminist and anti-Vietnam War activist. She morphed into a workout maven, post-feminist arm candy for billionaire media magnate Ted Turner, a vocal Christian and an autobiographer. With 2005's "Monster-in-Law," she defibrillated her movie career.

Yesterday, with her daughter, Vanessa Vadim, and two grandchildren nearby, she was again front and center as actress, feminist and opponent of war.

Her life has come full circle.

She thanked the tens of thousands of protesters for standing up to a "mean-spirited, vengeful administration" and she said she was glad to discover that the soul of America "is alive and well." One huge difference between protests then and now, she told the crowd, is military families and active service people in the present-day movement.

Children in tie-dyed shirts, grandmothers in flowered hats, kids with frizzy hair and muddy jeans danced and hoisted signs and chanted against the war and for impeachment. Despite her showbiz elegance -- blond hair, sunglasses, camel's hair coat and dark over-the-knee boots -- Fonda seemed to fit right in.

She was first known for campy movies such as "Barbarella," which was directed by first husband Roger Vadim, then for higher-shelf films such as "Klute" and "Coming Home," for which she won Best Actress Oscars. She became involved in the political world in the late 1960s, an involvement that continued with her second husband, activist Tom Hayden.

As a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, she cut a controversial figure. She spoke at protest rallies and, in 1972, posed for a photograph with a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun. The act was viewed by many as unpatriotic, even treasonous, and some called her "Hanoi Jane."

She has since apologized.

"Those people who would try to undermine her credibility will fail. We welcome her back to the peace community," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairman of the Out of Iraq congressional caucus.

"She's a high-profile, outspoken American," said actor Sean Penn, while smoking a cigarette before the rally. What she means to the antiwar movement "is the same thing any of the rest of us mean to it. She's one more voting American with a conscience who is against this war."

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