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Peter Fonda

Peter Fonda

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Also Known As: Peter Seymour Fonda Died:
Born: February 23, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, producer, director, screenwriter, college instructor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Possessing his father's piercing blue eyes, Peter Fonda also inherited his old man's talent, but not the same level of drive and commitment that passed on to older sister Jane. Still, the stubbornness and tenacity that enabled the black sheep of the Fonda acting dynasty to fashion an iconic career as the quintessential 1960s "hippie," also kept him focused into the 21st Century, where, long after Jane's "retirement," he continued to come into his own as an actor of quiet restraint to rival even his famously taciturn father. For many, he would always be Captain America, the spaced-out cat in "Easy Rider" (1969), the low-budget motorbikes-and-drugs road movie that perfectly captured the Zeitgeist of its day and made Fonda, as producer, "filthy rich." To another younger generation, he was simply Bridget Fonda's dad, but there were still chapters yet to be written, having survived the classic "dysfunctional" family and putting the substance abuse of his youth behind him.

Possessing his father's piercing blue eyes, Peter Fonda also inherited his old man's talent, but not the same level of drive and commitment that passed on to older sister Jane. Still, the stubbornness and tenacity that enabled the black sheep of the Fonda acting dynasty to fashion an iconic career as the quintessential 1960s "hippie," also kept him focused into the 21st Century, where, long after Jane's "retirement," he continued to come into his own as an actor of quiet restraint to rival even his famously taciturn father. For many, he would always be Captain America, the spaced-out cat in "Easy Rider" (1969), the low-budget motorbikes-and-drugs road movie that perfectly captured the Zeitgeist of its day and made Fonda, as producer, "filthy rich." To another younger generation, he was simply Bridget Fonda's dad, but there were still chapters yet to be written, having survived the classic "dysfunctional" family and putting the substance abuse of his youth behind him.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
3.
  The Hired Hand (1971) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Runner, The (2015)
2.
 House of Bodies (2014)
3.
 Harvest, The (2013)
4.
 As Cool As I Am (2013)
5.
6.
 Smitty (2012)
8.
 Big Fix, The (2011)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
At age six, broke his neck at boarding school while attempting to swing on a rope from a barn
1951:
Survived a near-fatal gunshot wound while horsing around with an antique .22 pistol nine months after his mother's suicide
:
At age 17, went to live with his Aunt Harriet (Henry Fonda's sister) in Omaha where he finished high school
1960:
First stage lead in "The Golden Fleece" at the Omaha Community Playhouse; the same theater where his father first stated acting
1961:
Broadway acting debut, "Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole"
1962:
Made TV debut in an episode of "Naked City" (ABC)
1963:
Feature acting debut, "Tammy and the Doctor"
1964:
Played a young man who commits suicide in Robert Rossen's "Lilith"
1966:
First film with Roger Corman, "The Wild Angels"
1967:
Re-teamed with Corman for "The Trip"; written by Jack Nicholson and starred Dennis Hopper
1968:
Only film with sister Jane, Roger Vadim's "Metzengerstein" segment of "Spirits of the Dead"
1969:
First film as producer and co-screenwriter, "Easy Rider"; directed by and co-starring Hopper; shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay
1971:
Directorial debut, "The Hired Hand"; starred Warren Oates and produced by William Hayward (son of Henry Fonda's first wife Margaret Sullavan)
1971:
Re-teamed with Hopper for "The Last Movie"
1973:
Directed second film, "Idaho Transfer"; produced by William Hayward
1974:
Played a race driver in "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry"
1975:
Starred in two movies with Oates, "Race with the Devil" and "92 in the Shade"
1976:
Directed by Jonathan Demme in "Fighting Mad"; produced by Corman
1976:
Starred in Richard T. Heffron's "Futureworld"
1977:
Re-teamed with Heffron on "Outlaw Blues"
1979:
Directed and co-starred with father in "Wanda Nevada"; last directing project to date and only film acted with his father
1980:
TV-movie debut, "The Hostage Tower" (CBS)
1985:
Played father to Rick Schroder in "A Reason to Live" (NBC)
1990:
Contributed to screenplay and starred in "Fatal Mission"
1993:
Had cameo role as a motorcycle rider in "Bodies, Rest and Motion"; starred daughter Bridget
1993:
Hosted "Harley Davidson - The American Motorcycle" (TBS)
1994:
Played duel roles of Van Helsing and Dracula in Michael Almereyda's "Nadja"
1997:
Played a beekeeper raising his grandchildren in "Ulee's Gold"; earned an Academy Award nomination
1998:
Played Gideon Prosper in NBC's Civil War era take on Shakespeare's "The Tempest"
1999:
Portrayed the novelist's husband in the Showtime drama, "The Passion of Ayn Rand"; earned an Emmy nomination
1999:
Delivered a slick turn as a corrupt record executive in "The Limey"
2000:
Portrayed Grandpa Burnett Stone in Britt Allcroft's live-action adaption, "Thomas and the Magic Railroad"
2003:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2007:
Co-starred with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in James Mangold's western, "3:10 to Yuma"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Nebraska at Omaha: Omaha , Nebraska -
Omaha Community Playhouse: Omaha , Nebraska -

Notes

Known as Peter Honda in Japan for all his motorcycle commercials filmed and aired there

Some sources list 1940 as his birth year.

Fonda, the host of "Harley Davidson--The American Motorcycle" (TBS, 1993), still enjoys riding his Harley and tries to do at least one 3000-mile ride a year. Unfortunately, he had to cancel a planned millennial ride from Paris to Vladivostok when his safety couldn't be guaranteed in Russian bandit country.

"I stepped onto the stage of the Morosco Theater in 1961 for a Wednesday matinee of 'Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole'. I was in front of all the blue-haired ladies who come up from Philadelphia, and I could hear the murmuring: 'He looks like his father.'" --Fonda quoted in the Daily News, June 11, 1997

"People ask me... what it was like ... with Henry Fonda as my father. I say, 'Ever see "Fort Apache" (1948)? He was like Colonel Thursday at the table every day.' Jane'd say to me, 'What did you do?' I'd say, 'I didn't do anything. What is he so angry about?' 'I don't know.' But he wasn't angry at us. He was so painfully shy, and here he had two children and he didn't know how to relate to them, and it drove him inside more and more, and, as far as we were concerned, it created a facade of silent terror. It took us years to find out that he loved us very much, because it was hard for him to express it. He was a good actor because he could take that repressed emotion onstage or in front of the camera and say how he felt about things and be this person he couldn't be in his normal life. It was very hard for audiences to understand that. When Jane and I spoke out, they thought, 'What ungrateful children ...'" --quoted in Interview, June 1997.

About the special gift future wife Becky gave him on his 35th birthday: "It was her childhood copy of E.B. White's 'Stuart Little'. I couldn't talk, I was weeping so hard. Nobody in my fuckin' family knew that Stuart was a genuine hero, a mouse born into a regular family, and it all worked. It was a family as it's supposed to be. I used to think, I'm fuckin' Stuart Little. If Stuart can do it, I can do it. So I asked myself, 'What woman gives a grown man her childhood book?' And the answer was, 'The woman you're supposed to be with.'" --Fonda to Peter Biskind in Premiere, July 1997

Remembering the first time his father verbalized his love: "We both walked slowly to the front door. Once outside, he took me by the shoulders. It was as if he were pushing me away and at the same time drawing me close. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. Slowly and choking on the high-powered emotion, he said, 'I love you very much son. I want you to know that.'

"I hugged him so hard, I could feel the pacemaker in his chest. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I told him I loved him very much and kissed him on his lips. Something we had never done before. I quickly drove off, stopping at a nearby park to have the good hard cry I needed. Years of frustration fell off my heart like melting snow sliding off a roof." --From "Don't Tell Dad" by Peter Fonda, excerpted in People, March 16, 1998

On Hollywood's prevailing attitude toward him in the years since "Easy Rider": "'Fonda? That sonuvabitch? Isn't he up there in Montana just loaded on his ranch?' Well, no, I wasn't. I took drugs but I wasn't a druggie. I made an average of 1.3 films a year. Some were, you know, bad. But I did my job well. My father took everything he was offered. I'm sure he wasn't thrilled about being in 'The Swarm', but there he was." --Fonda to Bruce Weber in The New York Times Magazine, March 22, 1998

"Peter has gone through some difficult times. I equate it with tempering of steel. He emerged stronger and more flexible. He was always a fine actor and is now demonstrating the ability to be a finer actor than ever before." --Roger Corman quoted in USA Today, March 23, 1998

Of his character in "Ulee's Gold": "Three pages in, I knew I could be this guy. I'd sat at the dinner table with him all those years ago. I understood his depth, I knew his sadness. I knew what I'd studied in 36 years in motion pictures would come together to help me create him." --Fonda to the London Times, March 30, 1998

About the inspiration for "Easy Rider": "I was a little bit loaded, and I looked at a picture that had been left on the table for me to sign for somebody's cousin. It was a photograph from 'The Wild Angels' of me and Bruce Dern on a chop. I looked at the photo for a while and then thought about what I would look like if, instead of two guys on one cycle, I had each of the guys on a bike." --Fonda quoted in Neon, May 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Susan Brewer. Married on October 8, 1961; divorced in 1972; stepdaughter of Noah Dietrich, once right-hand man to Howard Hughes.
wife:
Portia Rebecca Crockett. Met on set of "92 in the Shade" (1975); married in 1975; former schoolteacher; great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Davy Crockett; ex-wife of novelist Thomas McGuane.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Henry Fonda. Actor. Born in 1905; died in 1982.
mother:
Frances Seymour Brokaw. Committed suicide on October 14, 1950 when Peter was 11.
aunt:
Harriet Fonda Warren. Father's younger sister; born c. 1906; died 1998 at the age of 91; Fonda lived with her and her husband.
sister:
Jane Fonda. Actor. Born on December 21, 1937.
daughter:
Bridget Fonda. Actor. Mother, Susan Brewer; born in 1964; named after Bridget Hayward.
son:
Justin Fonda. Cameraman. Mother, Susan Brewer.
step-son:
Thomas Crockett. Makes custom pocket-knives.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Fondas"
"Don't Tell Dad: A Memoir" Hyperion

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