Peter Fonda, ‘Easy Rider’ Star, Dead At 79 After Battle With Lung Cancer; Tributes Pour In
Peter Fonda, the legendary actor, screenwriter and director best known for his role in the 1969 hit film Easy Rider, died Friday. He was 79.
Fonda, the younger brother of Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda and father of actress Bridget Fonda, died at his home in Los Angeles of respiratory failure due to lung cancer, his family said in a statement.
The late actor starred, co-wrote and produced Easy Rider, an independent road drama film about two bikers who travel through the American South to transport the proceeds of a cocaine deal. The movie also starred Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Hopper and Terry Southern co-wrote the script with Fonda, who said the film significantly helped him propel his career as an actor.
“I never stopped working, thanks to Easy Rider,” Fonda told The Los Angeles Times in 2007.
On August 9, just weeks after Easy Rider‘s 50th anniversary, Fonda tweeted an article from the newspaper about the film’s “groundbreaking” soundtrack.
‘Easy Rider’ at 50: How they put together that groundbreaking soundtrack https://t.co/t54IA4taNz
— Peter Henry Fonda (@iamfonda) August 9, 2019
Late film critic Roger Ebert called Easy Rider “one of the rallying-points of the late ’60s.”
Fonda was a major figure of the counterculture film movement that began in the 1960s. He also starred in drama films like 1997’s Ulee’s Gold, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and won a Golden Globe, and in the 1999 television film The Passion of Ayn Rand, for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
According to several reports, Fonda became friends with the Beatles and other notable music stars who were central to the 1960s counterculture era.
Fonda often used the word “freedom” to describe his philosophy for life.
“I believe that one is only truly free when one is learning, and one can only learn when one is free,” Fonda wrote on his website. “Freedom is NOT just another word for ‘nothing left to lose.'”
The late actor’s family used the word as well in their statement on his death.
“In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom,” Fonda’s family said.
Jane Fonda also issued a statement about the loss of her younger brother.
“I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother,” the actress and political activist said of her brother. “The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”
Fonda also spoke out against President Donald Trump‘s policies on immigration.
My heart goes out to Jane over the loss of her brother. Peter Fonda was a revolutionary filmmaker during a revolutionary time. Born in the house I now live in, his spirit will be missed.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) August 16, 2019
I am extremely saddened to know that Peter Fonda has left us. I have wonderful memories of the times we spent talking together while filming a children’s movie and whenever we saw each other after. What a lovely, intelligent, talented human. May you Rest In Peace!! pic.twitter.com/aCLIWhP6EO
— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) August 18, 2019
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 16, 2019
RIP Peter Fonda, counter culture legend, groundbreaking actor and all round real life hero. His sampled voice in Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded’ will echo on forever: “Just what is it that you want you to do…” https://t.co/kVXWn7QQNA
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) August 16, 2019
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I had the honor of working with #PeterFonda on the first movie I ever made (as an angsty teenager with a nose ring). Ulee’s Gold was a huge opportunity and he believed in me. I’m forever grateful for him and the impact he had on me and my career. I’m sure countless others can say the same. Rest in paradise❤️