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Fonda Helps Raise Money For Young Victims Of Agent Orange

July 30, 1988

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (AP) _ Jane Fonda posed for snapshots at an amusement park to raise money for children who suffered birth defects believed linked to Agent Orange, another step in her fence-mending with Vietnam veterans.

In a brief speech, Fonda talked about the damaging effects veterans say Agent Orange caused them and their offspring.

But she steered clear of the controversy that erupted earlier this year when it was announced she would film a movie in nearby Waterbury.

″I also want to say we’re very glad to be in Waterbury,″ she said Friday to a round of applause.

″This event,″ she said, ″is a little bit like a dream come true.″

Robert DeNiro, who co-stars in the movie ″Stanley and Iris,″ also attended the benefit for the Brandie Schieb Children’s Fund.

″I’m happy to be here,″ DeNiro said. ″It’s for a good, good cause.

″A lot of people came back from Vietnam and are suffering. That was bad enough, but when the children suffer what could be worse?″ he said.

The fund is named after the daughter of one of Connecticut’s most decorated Vietnam veterans, who suffers from massive birth defects. Brandie’s father, auto mechanic Hank Schieb, says doctors believe Brandie’s medical problems stem from his exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide the U.S. military used to clear vegetation in Vietnam.

The fund’s leaders say an estimated 64,000 children nationwide suffer birth defects believed to be linked to Agent Orange. They estimated that $10,000 was raised Friday for the fund.

About 1,200 people bought tickets for the event at Quassy Amusement Park. Hundreds waited in line in front of the stage, which was decorated with red, white and blue balloons, to have their photographs taken at $15 a shot with Fonda and DeNiro.

Some area veterans groups protested loudly when it was announced earlier this year that Fonda planned to film part of the movie in Waterbury and in Holyoke, Mass.

The veterans called Fonda a traitor for her 1972 visit to Hanoi, where she posed for photographs on an anti-aircraft gun and made an anti-war broadcast to U.S. troops.

″I told her she was very brave to come here,″ said Carol McIlravy of Waterbury, who had her picture taken with Fonda. ″I think she’s a very gracious lady. They ought to let it (the controversy) go now.″

Nearly 1,000 people attended an anti-Fonda rally in March on the Waterbury Green, where the actress was hung in effigy.

Last month, Fonda apologized in a nationally televised interview for anti- war activities or statements that may have hurt Vietnam veterans. The day after the interview was broadcast, she met privately in nearby Naugatuck with 25 Vietnam veterans.

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