The actress and activist already was one of Hollywood's most outspoken opponents of the Vietnam War when, at 34, she made a two-week trip to Hanoi in July 1972. By then, more than 60,000 U.S. soldiers had lost their lives in the conflict; Vietnamese casualties were close to 1 million.
In 2011, Fonda wrote on her website that the photo op — which earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane" and incensed millions of Americans — came about after Vietnamese soldiers serenaded her with a Communist folk song. "I heard these words: 'All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, liberty and happiness,' " she recalled. Then someone led her to a weapon that had shot down countless American aircraft, and flashbulbs went off. "It is possible it was a setup. I will never know."
Fonda told 60 Minutes in 2005 that the trip, where she met with peasants, artists and intellectuals, was worthwhile — but the photo was a mistake. "The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda's daughter, sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal," she said, "the largest lapse of judgment I can imagine."