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Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

K.C. man spits on Jane Fonda during book-signing

April 21, 2005

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— A man spit tobacco juice into the face of actress Jane Fonda after waiting in line to have her sign her new book, police said.

The man ran off but was quickly caught by police Tuesday night and charged with disorderly conduct.

Fonda has been on tour and doing interviews to promote her just-published memoir, "My Life So Far." The thrice-married, two-time Academy Award winner covers a wide array of topics, including her 1972 visit to Hanoi to protest the Vietnam War, during which she was photographed on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. She has apologized for that photo, but not for opposing the war.

Capt. Rich Lockhart of the Kansas City Police Department said that although Fonda did not want to press charges against Michael A. Smith, 54, of Kansas City, he was arrested on a municipal charge of disorderly conduct after off-duty officers caught him just outside Unity Temple, where Fonda was signing books.

Lockhart said Smith was released on bond late Tuesday night and is due to appear in municipal court on May 27.

Smith, a Vietnam veteran, said Wednesday that Fonda was a "traitor" and that her protests against the war were unforgivable.

He said he normally did not chew tobacco but did so Tuesday solely to spit juice on the actress.

"I consider it a debt of honor," he said. "She spit in our faces for 37 years. It was absolutely worth it. There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did."

Fonda drew a crowd of about 900 for her appearance, said Vivian Jennings, whose Rainy Day Books of suburban Fairway, Kan., sponsored the event at Unity Temple in Kansas City. Fonda, 67, spoke for about 15 minutes, answered questions for another 15, then began signing copies of her book.

Jennings said the actress never got up from her seat and continued autographing books after the tobacco juice was wiped off.

"The important thing is that she was so calm and so gracious about it," Jennings said of Fonda. "She was wonderful."

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