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Peter Fonda, Two-Time Academy Award Nominee & ‘Easy Rider’ Star, Dies at 79

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Peter Fonda attends the world premiere of "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" at Radio City Music Hall, during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Peter Fonda, two-time Oscar nominated star of “Easy Rider” and “Ulee’s Gold,” died Friday morning, according to a statement issued by the actor’s publicist. Fonda passed due to respiratory complications with lung cancer. He was 79.

‘“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.”

His sister Jane Fonda said in a statement, “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.”

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“Easy Rider”

Fonda began his acting career in brief appearance in ’60s television that included “Wagon Train,” “The New Breed,” “Channing” and Reginald Rose’s Golden Globe-winning series “The Defenders.” He starred in a role in the anthology series “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” and the war drama show “12 O’clock High.” Fonda’s star turn in Dennis Hopper’s 1969 drama “Easy Rider” saw the actor co-write, produce and star in the lead role. The idea for the film, came to Fonda in the midst of promoting his other film at the time, Roger Corman’s “The Trip,” starring Fonda, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg.

Peter Fonda in an interview, on “Easy Rider”:

You must have some passion. If you don’t have passion, don’t do it. Don’t sing the song, don’t write the poem, don’t paint that painting, don’t write the story- don’t make the movie. Don’t walk on stage, don’t waste time at the audience. If you do not have the passion, sit down and shut up.

The film was nominated for its original script, a credit Fonda shared with director Hopper and writer Terry Southern, and for Jack Nicholson’s supporting performance. In Victor Nunez’s “Ulee’s Gold,” Fonda played a reserved beekeeper trying to bring his family back together. He won a Golden Globe in 2000 for his role in Christopher Menaul’s “The Passion of Ayn Rand,” starring Helen Mirren, Julie Delpy and Eric Stoltz. His three other nominations came with Carl Foreman’s “The Victors,” “Ulee’s Gold” and Jack Bender’s “The Tempest.” 

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“Ulee’s Gold”

In recent years, Fonda has starred in James Mangold’s “3:10 to Yuma,” Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey,” Jared Moshe’s “The Ballad of Lefty Brown” and episodes of “The Blacklist,” “CSI:NY” and “Documentary Now!” He was born to Hollywood icon Henry Fonda and Frances Seymour Brokaw. He was brother to Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget and Justin Fonda.


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Written by Jessica Peña

Jessica Peña studied journalism at Volunteer State Community College before she began writing about film on a personal blog that sprouted from an electronic media course. She is now a film journalist for Awards Circuit, as well as a content editor and writer for the UK-based site JumpCut Online. She also loves the Child's Play/Chucky franchise with no end in sight.


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