Fonda Due to Apologize to Viet War Vets

Times Staff Writer

Jane Fonda, sharply criticized for going to Hanoi during the Vietnam War to oppose U.S. involvement in the conflict, apologizes to Vietnam veterans and their families on an ABC News program to be broadcast tonight.

But she says she doesn’t think she was duped by the North Vietnamese in 1972 when she donned a helmet and was photographed sitting in the gunner’s seat of a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. June 18, 1988 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 18, 1988 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 6 Column 1 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 66 words Type of Material: Correction
An article in Friday’s Calendar on actress Jane Fonda’s interview with Barbara Walters for “20/20” stated that Fonda had asked American soldiers to disobey orders during the Vietnam War. According to the transcript, Walters asserted that Fonda had “asked American soldiers to disobey their orders. . . .” In fact, Fonda did not respond to that statement. Fonda spokesman Stephen Rivers said the actress in a 1972 broadcast from Hanoi “did not ask anybody to disobey orders.”

Fonda, in an interview with Barbara Walters to air on ABC’s “20/20” tonight (10 p.m., Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42), said that sitting on the gun was “a thoughtless and careless thing to have done.”


“I know the power of images,” she added. “To have put myself in the situation like that was a thoughtless and cruel thing to have done.”

She takes full responsibility for it, she said, but doesn’t feel the North Vietnamese duped her into doing it as part of their propaganda efforts.

“No, I don’t,” she said. “I really don’t. I mean, I don’t remember being led to this gun. . . . I’m naive and I make mistakes, but it was my fault that I sat there, you know. I mean, you know, I was a big girl. I could have said, ‘No, I can’t do this.’ It was . . . my fault.”

Controversy over her trip to Hanoi in July, 1972, during which she also made broadcasts urging American soldiers to disobey their orders, was revived recently by Vietnam veterans in several New England towns who opposed her plans to come to the area next month to film a movie, “Union Street.” (The film is not about Vietnam.)

Her “20/20” interview--which Walters said the actress initiated--was taped May 31 at Fonda’s home in Santa Monica. A transcript of it was made available by ABC News prior to tonight’s broadcast.

The “20/20” segment will include a portion of Fonda’s broadcasts from Hanoi. In it, the Oscar-winning actress says she is speaking “particularly” to servicemen on Navy aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Apparently addressing enlisted ordnancemen who loaded bombs on attack bombers, she says she doesn’t know what their officers are telling them, but that they should know “that these weapons are illegal. . . . And the use of these bombs or the condoning of the use of these bombs makes one a war criminal.”

In her ABC interview nearly 16 years later, Fonda said that “I don’t remember calling soldiers ‘war criminals,’ but I do definitely recall saying that the weapons that were being used (had been) outlawed by the rules of warfare.

“I wanted to say to them, ‘Let’s think about what we’re doing--all of us--because it’s as much an American tragedy as it is a Vietnamese tragedy.’ ”

At the end of the interview, Fonda said she feels she owes “an apology” to Vietnam veterans everywhere “who I hurt or whose pain I caused to deepen because of things that I said or did. . . .

“My intentions were never to hurt them or make their situation worse. It was (to) the contrary. I was trying to help end the killing and the war, but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it.

“And I am very sorry I hurt them. And I want to apologize to them and to their families.”