Jane Fonda to attend Vienna Opera Ball with 90-year-old date

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Actress Jane Fonda, left, and her host, businessman Richard Lugner, right, arrive for a news conference on the Vienna Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Heinz-Peter Bader)

VIENNAAmerican actor Jane Fonda said Wednesday she accepted an Austrian building tycoon's invitation to attend the Vienna Opera Ball because he offered to “pay me quite a bit of money.”

The 85-year-old Academy Award and Golden Globe winner said at a news conference with her date, 90-year-old Richard Lugner, that she needed the money to pay her bills and to support her grandchildren.

“I support a lot of people,” Fonda said.

The opera ball is one of the highlights of the social calendar in Austria and known for a guest list that includes many celebrities. This year's event is on Thursday.

Lugner is known for paying undisclosed sums of money to famous women to accompany him to the ball. His past guests include Pamela Anderson, Kim Kardashian and model Elle MacPherson.

Fonda said her commitment would not include dancing at the ball because she has a “fake shoulder, two fake hips, two fake knees.”

“I’m old and I may fall apart,” quipped the actor, whose recent roles have included the TV series ”Grace and Frankie" and the film “80 for Brady.”

She acknowledged not being well informed before she accepted Lugner's invitation, telling reporters she thought it was to an “opera performance” and not a ball.

Fonda, who is well known for her activism to prevent teenage pregnancies and to curb climate change, said she was “sorry” to learn Austrian oil and gas company OMV sponsored the Vienna Opera Ball.

“These fossil fuel companies are criminal. They’re criminal. They’re killing people. They’re killing the planet,” she said.

“Please try to get your opera to stop taking support from an oil company,” Fonda added.