Peter Fonda Dies: Symbol Of A Generation In ‘Easy Rider’ Was 79


Peter Fonda, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for his work in the groundbreaking Easy Rider, which he co-wrote, produced, and co-starred in, has died at age 79.

The son of Hollywood legend Henry Fonda, brother of actress Jane Fonda, and father of actress Bridget Fonda, his death was confirmed by his publicist.

Easy Rider Moviestore/Shutterstock

“It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away. Fonda, 79 years old, passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16th at 11:05am at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer.

“In one of the saddest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts.  As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy.

And, while we mourn the loss of this sweet and gracious man, we also wish for all to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life.

In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom. From his Family.”

Fonda’s death comes just past the 50th anniversary of the release of Easy Rider, which debuted on July 14, 1969. The film will be celebrated with a screening and concert set for September 20 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The film, which starred Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, will be shown in sync with a live performance of its soundtrack. Expected to appear are Steppenwolf’s John Kay, who will perform Born To Be Wild, and Roger McGuinn. Others will appear under the music direction of T Bone Burnett.

Fonda was also an Oscar nominee for Best Actor in his role as a Vietnam veteran-turned-beekeeper in Ulee’s Gold. He also won a Golden Globe in 2000 for The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Easy Rider is the story of two motorcyclists who head to Mardi Gras after a big drug score. Along the way, they discover an America that was in flux, as two generations clashed over manners, morals and direction at the height of a cultural revolution. As they travel, “Captain America” Fonda and Hopper enlist Nicholson.

The low-budget independent film was a monster hit for distributor Columbia Pictures, produced for about $384,000.

Peter Fonda: Hollywood Remembers ‘Easy Rider’ & ‘Ulee’s Gold’ Star

Fonda was born in New York City on February 23, 1939, the son of Henry and Frances Fonda. He spent time in boarding schools on the East Coast and had a troubled relationship with his famous father, Henry, with whom he rarely lived.

His show business career started on Broadway with a role as an Army private in Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole. He received the Daniel Blum and the New York Drama Critics Award as the most promising young actor of 1961.

His film bow came in Tammy and the Doctor, a 1963 film with Sandra Dee. He also tipped his future iconic role in Easy Rider with Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels, a 1966 film in which he played biker Heavenly Blue. He followed with another Corman film, The Trip, a salute to LSD that was written by Nicholson and also featured Hopper. That meet-up led to Easy Rider.

Survivors include wife Margaret DeVogelaere; daughter, Bridget Fonda; and a son, Justin. No memorial plans have been announced.

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