Letter: Fonda items in ‘History Lessons' questioned
In his Aug. 19 "Bruce's History Lessons" column, Bruce Kauffmann wrote that Jane Fonda went to Hanoi, Vietnam, in late August 1972 at "the height of the war," that she says she was "manipulated" to sit on an anti-aircraft gun, that Vietnam veterans "dubbed her 'Hanoi Jane,'" and that "in her later years" she founded a video workout business "that made her wealthy."
I appreciate Mr. Kauffmann's efforts to popularize history, but this column needs the following corrections.
Fonda went in July 1972 when the war was all but over and there were very few US soldiers left in-country. In her autobiography, she expresses regret for being photographed on the gun and takes responsibility for having done it. The "Hanoi Jane" tag may have come from an early biographer, but not Vietnam veterans; the John Birch Society made it popular. Her workout business was begun in 1979 — later, but hardly her late-life — as a fundraiser for the Campaign for Economic Democracy, a pro-union anti-poverty organization. She may have eventually made money from the "Workout" tapes but it was not begun, as Kauffmann implies, as a kind of venture capital operation to make her rich.
Author of "Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal"
Associate professor of sociology
College of the Holy Cross