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'I Do,' Vegas Style

July 15, 2007|Rose Apodaca

THREE years before ruling as queen of the galaxy, Jane Fonda sat in a room at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas with Roger Vadim, the French director who would seal her sexpot status in "Barbarella."

It was Aug. 14, 1965, and the bubbly was flowing. They'd just said their "I do's" downstairs, and their pal Dennis Hopper was, as always, snapping away.

The quickie Vegas wedding is a rite dear to SoCal unknowns and Hollywood's boldface alike, and, in the case of these two infamous lovebirds, Hopper recalls, it was in the cards.

"Roger and Jane had planned to do it this way, quietly," he says. "They'd already been living together for a year. You can't really tell so much from this image, but he spent much of the time looking at her very intently. Everybody was having just a good time."

Just about -- the young bride spent her wedding night alone. Well, her mother-in-law kept her company. It seems her newly betrothed couldn't pull himself away from the casino. And Hopper admits that he too wanted to get through the evening. The fires consuming Watts could be seen a mile high from the small plane the couple had chartered. The view left them all shocked, and Hopper was eager to return to L.A. to shoot the riots. A sign of things to come? For Fonda and Vadim, who'd met eight years earlier in Paris -- just before he split from first wife Brigitte Bardot -- the marriage would be tested by infidelities, risque films and, for Fonda, anti-establishment causes. But all of that was a lifetime away during this moment for the party of 10, including Jane's brother, Peter, and Hopper, who busied himself behind the wide lens of his Nikon.

The knot they tied that day unraveled by early 1973. But the snapshot endures as part of a group exhibition at M+B Gallery in West Los Angeles and in "The Book on Vegas," curated by Lisa Eisner and Roman Alonso of Greybull Press. It's in the company of Douglas Kirkland's shot of Ann-Margret motorcycling through the desert and Todd Cole's overview of the poolside Eiffel Tower. Together they reveal the strange Fantasyland in our backyard. The show runs through Aug. 25.

-- Rose Apodaca

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