‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

In this Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 file photo, Peter Fonda poses atop a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Glendale, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Actor Peter Fonda, the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counter-culture classic “Easy Rider,” has died.

His family said in a statement that Fonda died Friday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79.

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,” the family said in a statement. “As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy.”

Born into Hollywood royalty as Henry Fonda’s only son, Peter Fonda carved his own path with his non-conformist tendencies and earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing the psychedelic road trip movie “Easy Rider.” He would never win that golden statuette, but would later be nominated for his leading performance as a Vietnam veteran and widowed beekeeper in “Ulee’s Gold.”

Fonda was born in New York in 1940 and was only 10 years old when his mother Frances Ford Seymour died. Fonda had an estranged relationship with his father, but said that they grew closer over the years before Henry Fonda died in 1982.

READ MORE: Emmy-winning actor Rip Torn has died at the age of 88

Although Peter never achieved the status of his father or even his older sister Jane Fonda, the impact of “Easy Rider,” which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, was enough to cement his place in popular culture.

Fonda collaborated with another struggling young actor, Dennis Hopper, on the script about two weed-smoking, drug-slinging bikers on a trip through the Southwest and Deep South.

On the way, Fonda and Hopper befriend a drunken young lawyer — Jack Nicholson in a breakout role — but raise the dander of Southern rednecks and are murdered before they can return home.

Fonda’s character Wyatt wore a stars-and-stripes helmet and rode a motorcycle called “Captain America,” re-purposing traditional images for the counter-culture.

Fonda produced “Easy Rider” and Hopper directed it for a meagre $380,000. It went on to gross $40 million worldwide, a substantial sum for its time.

The film was a hit at Cannes, netted a best-screenplay Oscar nomination for Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern, and has since been listed on the American Film Institute’s ranking of the top 100 American films. The establishment gave its official blessing in 1998 when “Easy Rider” was included in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or esthetically significant.”

ALSO READ: The best movies of the 1990s, from Goodfellas to Schindler to everything Tarantino

Lindsey Bahr and Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

ANKORS details concerns surrounding harm reduction amid COVID-19

AIDS Network, Outreach, and Support Society (ANKORS) of the East Kootenay have… Continue reading

School district staff reaching out to students, parents for educational guidance

Staff maintaining contact with students, ramping up remote technology to deliver learning opportunities

A Message From East Kootenay Regional Hospital ER Staff

Please Continue to Stay Home and Practice Social Distancing

Cranbrook food recovery programs still in operation

Cranbrook programs working together to ensure the community is fed.

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix had sharp words for those arriving from overseas abiding by federal law

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in Okanagan COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

Farm life: the little things that brought me joy in March

In celebration of the little things in life that bring us joy

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read