Those Hanoi Jane years may be decades behind her, but there's at least one Vietnam vet who's still spitting mad at Jane Fonda. Literally.The two-time Oscar-winning actress got a face full of tobacco juice Tuesday in Kansas City during a book signing for her new autobiography, My Life So Far.
After waiting in line for hours, the perp, Michael A. Smith, accosted the actress and onetime war protester for what he and many fellow vets consider her unpatriotic visit to North Vietnam in 1972 when she was photographed on an antiaircraft gun. In her new book and in recent interviews, Fonda says that she regrets her controversial photo op, though not her antiwar sentiment.
But Smith was not buying her mea culpa. He told the Kansas City Star that he took up tobacco chewing for the day for the sole purpose of spitting on Fonda, who he deems "a traitor."
"I consider it a debt of honor," he told the Star. "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."
On Wednesday he said, "Because of Jane Fonda, most Vietnam veterans were spit on when we came back. When I came back through L.A. airport, there were people lined up to spit on us."
Fonda did not press charges against Smith.
"In spite of the incident," she said in a statement Wednesday, "my experience in Kansas City was wonderful, and I thank all the warm and supportive people, including so many veterans who came to welcome me last night."
But K.C.'s finest were not as keen on Smith's spit-fueled protest. Smith, who dashed from the scene immediately after launching the loogie, was quickly corralled by cops and charged with disorderly conduct. He's set to appear in municipal court on May 27.
Witnesses say Fonda kept her cool after the tobacco attack, wiping off her face and then continuing to sign books and answer questions from the 900-plus people who showed up for the signing.
"The important thing is that she was so calm and so gracious about it," said Vivian Jennings, whose Rainy Day Books of suburban Fairway, Kansas, sponsored the event, told the Associated Press. "She was wonderful."
Fonda, meanwhile, is keeping busy with her book promotion schedule and has appearances planned throughout the country. She's also set to appear opposite Jennifer Lopez in the upcoming comedy Monster-in-Law, which opens May 6. It is her first foray on the big screen in 15 years.