“Peter Fonda, the son of Henry Fonda and the younger brother of Jane Fonda, has died,” reports People magazine. He was 79. He is the father of actress Bridget Fonda.
“Peter’s family confirmed the sad news in an exclusive statement to People on Friday and said that the two-time Oscar-nominee died after suffering respiratory failure due to lung cancer,” the magazine reports.
The Guardian newspaper said Fonda was “the elegant rebel who set the counterculture in motion” with the 1969 film “Easy Rider.”
Notes the website PilotGuides.com, “In an artistic sense, ‘Easy Rider’ had a profound effect on the American film industry, galvanizing a demand for films which explored the increasingly disillusioned views of American youth towards the state of the world. ‘Easy Rider,’ the story of two freewheeling travelling Americans searching for freedom, encapsulated the counterculture of the time better than any other medium whilst foreshadowing its future. The film has been described as a ‘touchstone for a generation’.
‘One of the first films to explore drug use and the hippie movement in non-propagandistic detail, ‘Easy Rider’ had a cultural effect which resonated beyond the confines of the film industry. [The movie] encapsulated the aesthetics of the hippie generation; its storyline, soundtrack and attitude having an important influence on American youth. While it is difficult to quantify a piece of art’s cultural impact, it was undoubtedly immense. The widespread exodus of Western young people to the far corners of the world were undoubtedly, at least implicitly, influenced by the ideas in ‘Easy Rider.’”
Fonda both co-starred in and co-wrote ‘Easy Rider’ with director Dennis Hopper. The third co-writer of the film was Terry Southern. Fonda also produced the movie. Jack Nicholson co-starred in the movie as well, which garnered for Nicholson his first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor.
Notes Variety, “While mainstream critics had ignored previous counterculture films, they heaped praise upon ‘Easy Rider,’ and the film was a significant box office hit as well with $41 million, third best for the year.”
The Guardian also says about Fonda, “Marginalised by Hollywood, he starred instead in the films that first gave big-screen form to the hippie moment, ‘The Wild Angels’ and ‘The Trip.”
Jane Fonda released this statement about her brother, according to Variety: “I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”
In this interview that we found on YouTube, Fonda talks quite a bit about his dad, Henry Fonda, including – near the end of the six-minute interview- a letter he received from his father that moves him to tears: