Afdera Franchetti

Countess Afdera Franchetti (1931— )(photo) is an Italian Countess, descendant of an old Jewish Venice family that intermarried with the Rothschild family and eventually converted to Catholicism. She is most famous as the fourth wife of American actor Henry Fonda.


She is the daughter of Baron Raimondo Franchetti, a famous explorer who traveled extensively in Ethiopia, during the 1920s and 1930s, and who was a consultant to Benito Mussolini and an envoy to Abyssinia for Italy's fascist government in the 1930s. Baron Franchetti died in a plane crash in 1935,, when Afdera was three years old, and while the Italian government monument in his honor speculates that engine failure was responsible for the fatal crash, in her autobiography,Never Before Noon, Afdera Franchetti alleges he was murdered by a British agent provocateur on the orders of Winston Churchill.

Her brother, the Baron Raimondo Nanuk Franchetti, was a friend of author Ernest Hemingway, who hunted with him in San Gaetano.


Afdera Franchetti was married to Henry Fonda from 1957 to 1961; they met in Italy while he was filming War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer. Franchetti was roughly twenty-three years old when she married Fonda; his oldest child, Jane, was eighteen.

Franchetti is alleged to have had an affair with President of the United States John F. Kennedy during the very week he entered the White House in 1961.

Later life

She was once arrested for drug smuggling, as detailed in her autobiography. In fact, it was only one 'joint,' which she brought in her luggage for a friend without appreciating that this was a serious offence.

This was typical of Afdera. She liked to describe herself as Holly GoLightly, the alluring if enigmatic heroine of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Naturally, Afdera knew Capote rather well and spent many weekends together with him at house parties in Southampton, Long Island. When I discovered this during the preparation of Never Before Noon, I was keen to know what she had learned from this great man of American letters. Absolutely nothing, she said, he had a little squeaky voice, so I never listened. She finally revealed that one time she was in the bath and Capote walked in. He studied her cosmetics and announced: Afdera, we use the same creams. "Great minds..." she began and he interrupted. "No, great bodies."

Afdera's dismissal of Truman Capote was true to character. We were once at a dinner party at the home of Lord Forte in Knightsbridge when one of the guests with the surname Bourbon claimed descendency from the Portuguese Royal Family. Afdera haughtily brushed aside the claim because she "knew every member of the family and he wasn't one of them."

She was almost certainly right in this case. The young Afdera Franchetti was a fixture among aristocratic circles in Europe before her marriage to Henry Fonda, and as Fonda's wife absorbed the big names of New York society and Hollywood glamour.

She was once at a lunch with Marlon Brando and Bob Dylan. Brando was baiting Dylan. Come on, you've got all the answers, what's the meaning of life? Dylan sat back and thought for a moment: Love your mother and be good to your children. The answer angered Brando. "If that's the answer, how come everything you write is so abstract, so dark?" Again Dylan thought before he answered. "It's not dark. It's not dark yet. But it's getting there." The extraordinary thing about this reply was the sentence became a refrain in a Dylan song twenty years later and, secondly, that Afdera remembered it.

Family History

Sara Louise de ROTHSCHILD, (1834-1924), married Baron Raimondo FRANCHETTI (1829-1905) in 1858.


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