Talk about an entry in the My, How Times Change Department: It was in 1963 while on a visit to Moscow that a young starlet named Jane Fonda first witnessed its traditional tank-and-armament-laden May Day parade. Twenty-seven years later Fonda, 52, was in Red Square again—this time promoting fitness by leading an army of post-Cold War Muscovites in the battle against flab.
In fact Fonda’s appearance Oct. 18 was only half of a well-publicized capitalist assault. While she, accompanied by a Red Army band version of “Stars and Stripes Forever!” herded some 700 huffing and puffing female locals on a 1.6 mile goodwill jog around the Kremlin, her fellow traveler, media mogul Ted Turner, 51, maintained an agenda of his own—presiding over the Soviet premiere of Gone with the Wind, part of the vast film archive he acquired with his 1986 purchase of MGM.
In truth America’s latest power couple are hardly strangers to the Soviets. Fonda’s workout videos, which recently aired on Soviet television, already do a brisk black market business, selling for 100 rubles ($160) each, or more than half of the average Soviet monthly salary. And Turner, who admitted recently that Fonda’s influence made him drop 18 lbs., is a veteran of repeated trips to the Soviet Union—including his launch of the Goodwill Games in 1986. “Now,” proclaimed the national daily Sovetski Sport, “he is one of the most dedicated friends of our country in the United States.”
Following Thursday’s Fonda fun run came Turner’s Friday premiere: Throngs of Soviets in furs and finery crowded the 2,500-seat Oktyabr Theater for a subtitled version of Scarlett and Rhettski. Promoters peddled Scarlett perfume in the lobby. VIPs hunkered inside the theater with champagne and caviar. Moviegoers anted up 15 rubles ($25) apiece for scarce tickets, with proceeds earmarked for a Soviet anti-AIDS campaign. “The spirit of Scarlett O’Hara is what the Russian people need right now,” Turner told the postperestroika crowd. “They have to do like she did [and say]. ‘With God as my witness, I’ll never go hungry again.’ ”
One Muscovite who missed the race and the movie got a chance to see Fonda and Turner up close and personal. New Nobel laureate Mikhail Gorbachev welcomed the star pair in his Kremlin office and grinned broadly, particularly at Jane. Perhaps he hadn’t heard her politically correct statement to Soviet women the day before. “Keep fit—but not for your men,” she exhorted Moscow’s masses. “Do it for yourselves.”