Peter Fonda, Two-Time Oscar Nominee and Star of ‘Easy Rider,’ Dies at 79

Actor was son of Henry Fonda, younger brother of Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget Fonda

Peter Fonda
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Peter Fonda, the two-time, Oscar-nominated star of “Easy Rider” and more recently films such as “Ulee’s Gold” and the remake of “3:10 to Yuma,” has died, his manager confirmed to TheWrap. He was 79.

In a statement to People magazine, his family said that Fonda passed away of respiratory failure on Friday morning due to complications from lung cancer. Fonda was part of a family of Hollywood royalty, the son of Old Hollywood star Henry Fonda and the brother to Jane Fonda, as well as the father of Bridget Fonda.

“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,” his family said in the statement to People. “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.”

With his long hair, friendship with ’60s rock stars and rebellious persona on screen, Fonda became a symbol of the 1960s counterculture movement. His early films paired him with Roger Corman as bikers and anti-heroes in the ’60s films “The Wild Angels” and “The Trip.” He then co-wrote and starred in the 1969 classic “Easy Rider” as directed by Dennis Hopper, playing the biker by the name of Captain America. The film was nominated for two Oscars, including for Fonda’s screenplay.

Fonda parlayed that success to a short career as a director, directing himself in the 1971 Western “The Hired Hand” followed by a sci-fi in 1973 titled “Idaho Transfer.” He would also star in and direct the mystery, comedy and romance “Wanda Nevada” with Brooke Shields in 1979.

Through the ’70s, Fonda branded himself as an action star in films like “Open Season,” “Race With the Devil” and the “Westworld” sequel, “Futureworld.” And by 1981, he even made a cameo as the “Chief Biker” in Burt Reynolds’s “The Cannonball Run,” which nodded to his earlier days as a hippie biker on screen.

Fonda had a career highlight with a dramatic turn in “Ulee’s Gold” in 1997, playing a reclusive and stoic beekeeper in Florida who works to prevent his son and granddaughter from suffering from drug abuse. His role earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Some of his other highlights included parts in Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey” and the Western remake “3:10 to Yuma.”

He’ll next be seen in the upcoming “The Last Full Measure,” a war film from director Todd Robinson about the actions of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr., also known as “Pits,” who was awarded the nation’s highest military honor decades after his death.

Fonda is survived by his wife Margaret, his children Bridget and Justin, and his sister Jane.