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Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda

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Also Known As: Henry Jaynes Fonda Died: August 12, 1982
Born: May 16, 1905 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Grand Island, Nebraska, USA Profession: actor, TV producer, scene designer, theater director, assistant manager, office boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Whether playing a Western hero, a Depression-era idealist or Abe Lincoln, Henry Fonda (1905-1982) personified the decent, honest, plain-spoken American. As a young man he leavened his earnest image with doses of slapstick comedy, and as an older actor he found variety in an occasional turn as black-hearted villain or crusty old-timer. But the first image of Fonda that comes to the minds of most moviegoers is the haunted, yearning face of Tom Joad as Fonda begins his final speech in The Grapes of Wrath (1940): "I'll be all around, wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat..." Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, Fonda began acting with an amateur group directed by Marlon Brando's mother, Dorothy. He soon moved on to summer stock and Broadway. His stage turn as the title character in The Farmer Takes a Wife brought good notices and a chance to repeat the role in a 1935 film version opposite Janet Gaynor. He supported singer Lily Pons in I Dream Too Much (1935) and became part of a boisterous triangle with Pat O'Brien and Margaret Lindsay in Slim (1937), a modestly made but well-received melodrama. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), the first outdoor Technicolor feature, was a huge...

Whether playing a Western hero, a Depression-era idealist or Abe Lincoln, Henry Fonda (1905-1982) personified the decent, honest, plain-spoken American. As a young man he leavened his earnest image with doses of slapstick comedy, and as an older actor he found variety in an occasional turn as black-hearted villain or crusty old-timer. But the first image of Fonda that comes to the minds of most moviegoers is the haunted, yearning face of Tom Joad as Fonda begins his final speech in The Grapes of Wrath (1940): "I'll be all around, wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat..."

Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, Fonda began acting with an amateur group directed by Marlon Brando's mother, Dorothy. He soon moved on to summer stock and Broadway. His stage turn as the title character in The Farmer Takes a Wife brought good notices and a chance to repeat the role in a 1935 film version opposite Janet Gaynor. He supported singer Lily Pons in I Dream Too Much (1935) and became part of a boisterous triangle with Pat O'Brien and Margaret Lindsay in Slim (1937), a modestly made but well-received melodrama. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), the first outdoor Technicolor feature, was a huge success that established Fonda, playing a backwoods mountaineer, as an iconic American hero.

Fonda teamed memorably with Bette Davis in That Certain Woman (1937) and Jezebel (1938), and with Barbara Stanwyck in The Mad Miss Manton (1938) and The Lady Eve (1941). He played a bumbling millionaire in the latter film, which became a classic of the screwball comedy genre. After distinguishing himself in the title role of Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar® for The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

Other memorable Fonda vehicles of the 1940s include the powerful lynchmob drama The Ox-Bow Incident (1943); My Darling Clementine (1946), with Fonda as Wyatt Earp under John Ford's direction; and The Fugitive (1947), Ford's version of Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. The 1950s saw Fonda's final film for Ford as he repeated his longrunning stage success in the title role of Mr. Roberts (1955). He played Pierre to Audrey Hepburn's Natasha in War and PeaceMorning Glory magic in a remake called Stage Struck (1958).

In the 1960s Fonda was part of the all-star casts of the Western How the West Was Won and the World War II epic The Longest Day (both 1962), and gave a fine performance in the political drama The Best Man (1964). His Westerns of the period included The Rounders (1965), with Glenn Ford, and Welcome to Hard Times (1967). In the taut thriller Madigan (1968), Fonda plays an upstanding police commissioner to Richard Widmark's embattled detective. Yours, Mine and Ours, a mature romantic comedy about a mixed family, became a surprise hit for Fonda and Lucille Ball.

Fonda made two films for "spaghetti Western" master Sergio Leone: the highly dramatic Once Upon a Time in the West (1969), expertly playing one of the screen's iciest villains; and the spoof My Name is Nobody (1974), as an aging gunfighter. The winner of an honorary Oscar® as a "consummate actor" in 1981, Fonda won the Best Actor award the following year for On Golden Pond (1981), in which he teamed for the first time with Katharine Hepburn in a gentle study of a couple in their twilight years. The father of actors Jane and Peter and the grandfather of Bridget Fonda, Henry Fonda not only enjoyed a 50-year film career but had numerous and impressive stage and television credits.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Great Depression, The (1988) ("Summer Theatres" - "Economy Blues")
3.
 On Golden Pond (1981) Norman Thayer Jr
4.
 Gideon's Trumpet (1980) Clarence Earl Gideon
5.
 Wanda Nevada (1979) Old Prospector
6.
 Meteor (1979) President
7.
 City on Fire (1979) Fire Chief Albert Risley
8.
9.
 Home to Stay (1978) Grandpa George
10.
 Great Smokey Roadblock, The (1978) Elegant John
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Amateur stage actor at Omaha Community Playhouse
:
Joined the University Players Guild
1929:
Broadway actor (walk-on) "The Game of Life and Death"
1935:
Made film debut in a leading role opposite Janet Gaynor in "The Farmer Takes a Wife"
1939:
First collaboration with director John Ford, "Young Mr. Lincoln"
1943:
Last films before WWII service, "The Immortal Sergeant" and "The Ox-Bow Incident"
1946:
Returned to films in John Ford's "My Darling Clementine"
1948:
Last feature films for seven years, "A Miracle Can Happen/On Our Merry Way" and John Ford's "Fort Apache"
1948:
Returned to Broadway to star in "Mister Roberts"; stayed with the hit for much of its lengthy run, and later went on tour with the show
1955:
Returned to films to star in an adaptation of "Mister Roberts"
1957:
Lone credit as feature film producer, "Twelve Angry Men", in collaboration with playwright and screenwriter Reginald Rose; Fonda also starred in the film
1962:
Starred on Broadway opposite Olivia De Havilland in "A Gift of Time"
1981:
Last film, "On Golden Pond"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Minnesota: -

Notes

Won a Bronze Star.

He received a Presidential Citation Award.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Margaret Sullavan. Actor. 1931-1933.
wife:
Frances Seymour Brokaw. Married 1936 until her suicide on October 14, 1950.
wife:
Susan Blanchard. Married December 28, 1950 until 1956.
wife:
Adfera Franchetti. Married March 10, 1957 until 1961.
wife:
Shirlee Adams. Model, stewardess. Married 1965 until his death in 1982.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Harriet Fonda Warren. Younger; born c. 1906; died in July 1998 at age 91.
daughter:
Jane Fonda. Actor.
son:
Peter Fonda. Actor, producer, director.
daughter:
Amy Fonda. Adopted.
granddaughter:
Bridget Fonda. Actor. Daughter of Peter Fonda.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Henry Fonda: A Biography" McFarland

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