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When Celebrities Meet Bad Guys

March 21, 2013

Former NBA rebounding champion (and all-around weirdo) Dennis Rodman recently made headlines during an ill-advised trip to North Korea to meet its “Supreme Leader,” Kim Jong-un.

While this sounds like a PR stunt or an article from The Onion, Rodman isn’t the first American celebrity to associate themselves with dubious elements. Here are a few more examples.

Patty Hearst yelling commands at bank customers

Patty Hearst. After being kidnapped by a far-left revolutionary group calling itself the “Symbionese Liberation Army,” newspaper heiress Patty Hearst succumbed to the effects of brainwashing and Stockholm Syndrome and willingly helped the SLA rob a San Francisco bank in 1974. Hearst was arrested in 1975 and imprisoned for two years before her sentence was commuted by President Carter.

Oliver Stone. The movie director (JFK, the Doors, Born on the Fourth of July) went to Cuba to meet Cuban dictator Fidel Castro for the HBO documentary Comandante in 2003, just as “El Presidente” was rounding up dissidents and having them executed. HBO then deemed Comandante too pro-Cuba and refused to air it. So Stone went back to Havana to film more footage for another film, Looking for Castro, which was only released on DVD. Not knowing when to say when, the director hung out with Castro again for a third film, Castro in Winter.

Jane Fonda. Younger readers might know Fonda only as a workout video star. Older readers will remember her Oscar-winning turn in Klute, as well as her outspoken support for the Black Panthers, the Civil Rights movement, and her opposition to the Vietnam War. She got the nickname “Hanoi Jane” after she visited the city in July 1972. During a two-week tour of North Vietnam, she met with American POWs, hung out with members of the North Vietnamese Army and denounced U.S.’ military leaders as “war criminals” in a series of radio broadcasts. The most controversial part of her trip, however, involved a photo of Fonda seated on an NVA anti-aircraft battery next to a soldier. Over the past few decades Fonda has frequently apologized for the trip, but antagonism against the actress persists; in 2005, a Navy veteran spit chewing tobacco in her face at a book signing.

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