Fonda, Peter 1939(?)–

views updated May 29 2018

Fonda, Peter 1939(?)–


Full name, Peter Henry Fonda (some sources say Peter Seymour Fonda); born February 23, 1939 (some sources say 1940), in New York, NY; son of Henry Jaynes (an actor) and Frances Sophia (a financier; maiden name, Seymour) Fonda; brother of Jane Fonda (an actress); married Susan Jane Brewer (an artist), October 8, 1961 (divorced, April 16, 1972); married Portia Rebecca "Becky" Crockett (a writer), November 11, 1975; children: (first marriage) Bridget (an actress), Justin; (second marriage) Thomas. Education: Attended University of Omaha, 1957–60; studied acting with Harold Gushkin.

Addresses: Agent—IFA Talent Agency, 8730 Sunset Blvd., Suite 490, Los Angeles, CA 90069; Metropolitan Talent Agency, 4526 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010; Cunningham/Escott/Dipene and Associates, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 140, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Publicist—Bloch/Korenbrot Public Relations, 8271 Melrose Ave., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90046.

Career: Actor, director, producer, and writer. Omaha Playhouse, member; Cecilwood Theatre, New York City, apprentice; appeared in advertisements.

Member: Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America.

Awards, Honors: Theatre World Award, 1962, for Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole; Golden Laurel Award, third place, top male new face, Producers Guild of America, 1964; Golden Globe Award nomination, most promising newcomer—male, 1964, for The Victors; Golden Laurel Award, second place, male new face, Academy Award nomination (with Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern), best writing, story and screenplay based on material not previously published or produced, and Screen Award nomination (with Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern), best drama written directly for the screen, Writers Guild of America, all 1970, for Easy Rider; New York Film Critics Circle Award, best actor, 1997, Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actor in a dramatic motion picture, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award, best actor, Southeastern Film Critics Association Award, best actor, Academy Award nomination, best actor, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role, Independent Spirit Award nomination, best male lead, Independent Features Project/West, and Online Film Critics Society Award nomination, best actor, all 1998, all for Ulee's Gold; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, 1999, for The Tempest; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or a movie, 1999, Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, miniseries, or motion picture made for television, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries, both 2000, all for The Passion of Ayn Rand; Maverick Tribute Award, Cinquest San Jose Film Festival, 2000; Golden Boot Award, Motion Picture and Television Fund, 2002; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, motion picture category, 2003; Daytime Emmy Award nomination, outstanding performer in a children/youth/family special, 2004, for The Maldonado Miracle; Copper Wing Tribute Award, Phoenix Film Festival, 2004.


Film Appearances:

Dr. Mark Cheswick, Tammy Tell Me True, Universal, 1961.

Dr. Mark Cheswick, Tammy and the Doctor, Universal, 1963.

Weaver, The Victors, Columbia, 1963.

Eddie Slocum, The Young Lovers, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1964.

Steven Evshevsky, Lilith, Columbia, 1964.

(Uncredited) The Rounders, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1965.

Heavenly Blues, The Wild Angels, American International Pictures, 1966.

Paul Groves, The Trip, American International Pictures, 1967.

Baron Wilhelm, "Metzengerstein," Spirits of the Dead (also known as Tales of Mystery, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Histoires extraordinaires, Tre passi nel delirio, and Trois histoires extraordinaires d'Edgar Poe), American International Pictures, 1968.

Wyatt (Captain America), Easy Rider (also known as The Loners), Columbia, 1969.

Harry Collings, The Hired Hand, Universal, 1971.

Young sheriff, The Last Movie (also known as Chinchero), Universal, 1971.

Evan Bonner, Two People, Universal, 1973.

Larry Rayder, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1973.

Not So Easy—Motorcycle Safety, 1973.

Ken, Open Season (also known as The Recon Game and Los cazadores), Columbia, 1974.

Mike Bradley, The Diamond Mercenaries (also known as Killer Force), American International Pictures, 1975.

Roger March, Race with the Devil, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1975.

Tom Skelton, 92 in the Shade, United Artists, 1975.

Chuck Browning, Futureworld, American International Pictures, 1976.

Tom Hunter, Fighting Mad, 1976.

Bobby Ogden, Outlaw Blues, Warner Bros., 1977.

Himself, Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel (documentary), Blackwood Films, 1978.

Rane, High-Ballin', American International Pictures, 1978.

Beaudray Demerille, Wanda Nevada, United Artists, 1979.

Himself, The Carradines Together (documentary), United Filmmakers, 1979.

Chief biker, The Cannonball Run, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1981.

Kirklander, Split Image (also known as Captured and L'envoutement), Orion, 1982.

Dr. Tom Brasilian, Spasms (also known as Death Bite), Blossom Pictures/Producers Distributors, 1983.

Gonzy Traumerai, All Right, My Friend (also known as Daijoobu, Mai Furrendo), Toho, 1983.

Harry Bediker, Dance of the Dwarfs (also known as Dance of the Dwarves and Jungle Heat), Dove and Panache, 1983.

Mr. Frieden, Peppermint Frieden, 1983.

Rodney, Certain Fury, New World, 1985.

Old Money, 1985.

Hawken, Hawken's Breed, Image Entertainment, 1987.

Host, Hollywood Uncensored (documentary), Castle Hill, 1987.

Narrator, Signatures of the Soul (documentary; also known as Tattooing), 1987.

Virelli, Mercenary Fighters (also known as Freedom Fighter), Cannon, 1987.

Herbert Schluter, The Rose Garden (also known Der Rosengarten), Cannon, 1989.

Ken Andrews, Fatal Mission, Media Home Entertainment, 1990.

Himself, Flashing on the Sixties: A Tribal Document (documentary), Pacific Arts, 1990.

Nick, Family Express, 1991.

Jake, South Beach (also known as Night Caller), Prism Entertainment, 1992.

Motorcycle rider, Bodies, Rest and Motion, Fine Line Features, 1993.

Pete, Deadfall, Trimark Pictures, 1993.

Himself, Warren Oates: Across the Border (documentary), Anchor Bay Entertainment, 1993.

Dracula/Dr. Van Helsing, Nadja, October Films, 1994.

Larry Stanton, Molly and Gina (also known as Burnhill), A-pix Entertainment, 1994.

Vergil Cheatham, Love and a .45, Trimark Pictures, 1994.

Himself, At Sundance (documentary; also known as The Sundance Documentary), The Shooting Gallery, 1995.

Pipeline, Escape from L.A. (also known as John Carpenter's "Escape from L.A."), Paramount, 1996.

Ray the cook, Painted Hero (also known as Shadow of the Past), Cabin Fever Entertainment, 1996.

Voice of guru Dave, Grace of My Heart, Gramercy Pictures, 1996.

Ulysses "Ulee" Jackson, Ulee's Gold, Orion, 1997.

(In archive footage) Me and Will, Bedford Entertainment, 1998.

Himself, Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage (documentary; also known as Shaking the Cage), Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment, 1999.

Terry Valentine, The Limey, Artisan Entertainment, 1999.

Keeping Time, 1999.

Grandpa Burnett Stone, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Destination Films, 2000.

Merv Gutman, Second Skin, Artisan Entertainment, 2000.

Himself, Welcome to Hollywood (documentary), PM Entertainment Group, 2000.

Shoshonee Bill, South of Heaven, West of Hell, Phaedra Cinema/August Entertainment, 2000.

Stoney, Wooly Boys, Lions Gate Films, 2001.

(In archive footage) Himself, A Decade under the Influence (documentary), IFC Films, 2003.

Himself, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (documentary), Shout! Factory, 2003.

Himself, Tune In Trip Out (short film), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists Home Entertainment, 2003.

Grandfather, The Heart Is Deceitful above All Things (also known as Le livre de Jeremie), Pretty Dangerous Films, 2004.

Mr. Caldwell, Ocean's Twelve, Warner Bros., 2004.

Himself, Film Trix 2004 (short documentary), 2004.

Breaking the Rules (documentary), 2005.

El Cobrador—In God We Trust, 2005.

Mephisto (Mephistopheles), Ghost Rider, Columbia, 2006.

X, Cobrador, c. 2006.

Appeared in Family Spirit and Reckless.

Film Director:

The Hired Hand, Universal, 1971.

Idaho Transfer (also known as Deranged), Cinemation, 1974.

Wanda Nevada, United Artists, 1979.

Film Producer:

Easy Rider (also known as The Loners), Columbia, 1969.

The Hired Hand, Universal, 1971.

Old Money, 1985.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Leo, A Time of Indifference (also known as Gli indifferenti), 1988.

Narrator, American Stories: The American Dream (documentary; also known as The American Dream), The Discovery Channel, 1998.

Himself, Dream Machines (documentary), History Channel, 1998.

Dr. Austin Shepard, Supernova, The Hallmark Channel, 2005.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Mike Graham, The Hostage Tower (also known as Alistair MacLean's "The Hostage Tower"), CBS, 1980.

Gus Stewart, A Reason to Live, NBC, 1985.

House, Don't Look Back, HBO, 1996.

Guideon Prosper, The Tempest, NBC, 1998.

Frank O'Connor, The Passion of Ayn Rand, Showtime, 1999.

Doctor Cantway, The Laramie Project, HBO, 2002.

Father Russell, The Maldonado Miracle, Showtime, 2003.

Television Appearances; Specials:

(Uncredited) Morley, Carol for Another Christmas, ABC, 1964.

Robbie Conroy, "Certain Honorable Men," On Stage, NBC, 1968.

The Return of the Smothers Brothers, NBC, 1970.

Performer, Circus of the Stars, CBS, 1977.

Performer, Circus of the Stars #2, CBS, 1977.

(In archive footage) Himself, Margret Duenser, auf der Suche nach den Besonderen (documentary; also known as Margret Dunser, auf der Suche nach den Besonderen), Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (West Germany [now Germany]), 1981.

Sgt. Pepper: It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, PBS, 1987.

Welcome Home, HBO, 1987.

Unauthorized Biography: Jane Fonda, syndicated, 1988.

"Dennis Hopper," Crazy about the Movies (documentary), Cinemax, 1991.

Narrator, Blue Water Hunters (documentary), PBS, 1992.

Himself, Fonda on Fonda (documentary), TNT, 1992.

Host, Harley-Davidson: The American Motorcycle (documentary), TBS, 1993.

Himself, Biking USA (documentary), 1994.

Fonda on Fonda (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1997.

Harley Mania (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 1998.

Host and narrator, Motorcycles: Born to Be Wild (documentary), The Learning Channel, 1999.

The AFI's 100 Years … 100 Stars, CBS, 1999.

The Wild Ride of Outlaw Bikers (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

Host, Route 66: Main Street America (documentary), The Learning Channel, 2000.

Host, Wildlife Adventures: Pollinators in Peril (documentary), TBS, 2000.

Host and narrator, The Rockies (documentary), History Channel, 2000.

Narrator, Born to the Wind (documentary), PBS, 2000.

(Uncredited) Himself, Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The Early Years (1955–1970) (documentary), American Movie Classics, 2000.

Grand marshal, The 70th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, syndicated, 2001.

Himself, Christmas in Tinseltown, BBC and American television, 2001.

Sturgis: The Great Ride Rally (documentary), Travel Channel, 2001.

Himself, Still Cher (documentary), BBC, 2002.

Dr. Will Allenby, "Back When We Were Grownups," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 2004.

Himself, Biography Special: The Fondas (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2004.

Hollywood Home Movies (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

(Uncredited) Himself, The 42nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1970.

The American Film Institute Salute to Henry Fonda (also known as The AFI Salute to Henry Fonda), 1978.

National Basketball Players Association Awards, 1989.

Himself, The American Film Institute Salute to Jack Nicholson, CBS, 1994.

Himself, The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.

The American Film Institute Salute to Robert Wise, NBC, 1998.

The Fourth Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as Screen Actors Guild Fourth Annual Awards), TNT, 1998.

The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1999.

Presenter, 15th Annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards, Independent Film Channel and Bravo, 2000.

Presenter, The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2001.

Himself, The 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, NBC, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Joey, "The Night the Saints Lost Their Halos," Naked City, ABC, 1962.

Orly French, "The Orly French Story", Wagon Train, ABC, 1962.

Ronnie Bryson, "Thousands and Thousands of Miles," The New Breed, ABC, 1962.

Gary Foster, "The Brother Killers," The Defenders, CBS, 1963.

"An Obelisk for Benny," Channing, ABC, 1963.

Alex Bakalyan, "A Circle of Strangers," Arrest and Trial, ABC, 1964.

Lieutenant Andy Lathrop, "The Sound of Distant Thunder," 12 O'Clock High, ABC, 1964.

Himself, "Betsy Palmer vs. Peter Fonda," Password, CBS, 1964.

Verge Likens, "The Return of Verge Likens," Alfred Hitchcock Hour, NBC, 1964.

Mystery guest, What's My Line?, CBS, 1966.

"Politicians Can Become a Habit," Insight, syndicated, 1967.

Himself, The Merv Griffin Show, CBS, 1970.

Himself, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1971, 1972.

Himself, V.I.P.-Schaukel, 1973.

Himself, Fridays, ABC, 1981.

Sonore (also known as Sound), 1988.

Himself, "Wetten, dass …? aus Hof," Wetten, dass …?, 1989.

Marcantony Appfel, "Give Me Your Life: Parts 1 & 2," In the Heat of the Night, CBS, 1994.

Himself, "Brilliant Number One," Space Ghost Coast to Coast (live action and animated), Cartoon Network, 1997.

Himself, "Brilliant Number Two," Space Ghost Coast to Coast (live action and animated), Cartoon Network, 1997.

Himself, "Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero," Biography (documentary; also known as A&E Biography: Henry Fonda), Arts and Entertainment, 1997.

The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1997, 1998, 1999.

Himself, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 1998.

Himself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1998.

Himself, The Howard Stern Radio Show, syndicated, 1999.

Himself, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 1999.

Himself, Jane Fonda: The E! True Hollywood Story (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 2000.

Himself, "Peter Fonda: Fortunate Son," Biography (documentary; also known as A&E Biography: Peter Fonda), Arts and Entertainment, 2002.

Himself, Festival Pass with Chris Gore, Starz!, 2002.

Himself, The View, ABC, 2002.

Harrison Houk, "A Thief of Time," Mystery!, PBS, 2004.

Judge, "Finals," Ultimate Film Fanatic, Independent Film Channel, 2004.

Himself, "Jack Nicholson," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2004.

Himself, "Larry Hagman," Biography (documentary; also known as A&E Biography: Larry Hagman), Arts and Entertainment, 2004.

Himself, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, CBC, 2004.

Appeared as himself, "The Films of Jonathan Demme," The Directors, Encore; also appeared in Montana and Sound (also known as Sonore).

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Marshal Will Kane's son, High Noon, 1966.

President Bridgewater, Capital City, ABC, 2002.

Stage Appearances:

Lead, The Golden Fleece, Omaha Community Playhouse, Omaha, NE, 1960.

Private Oglethorpe, Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole, Morosco Theatre, New York City, 1961.

Lead, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Mineola Playhouse, New York City, 1962, then Louisville, KY, 1963.


Video Games:

Voice of the truth, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (also known as Grand Theft Auto, GTA 4, and GTA: San Andreas), Rock Star Games, 2004.



Easy Rider (also known as The Loners), Columbia, 1969.

(With Alan Sharp) The Hired Hand, Universal, 1971.

Fatal Mission, Media Home Entertainment, 1990.


Don't Tell Dad (autobiography), Hyperion, 1998.



Brough, James, Fabulous Fondas, McKay, 1970.

Collier, Peter, The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty, Putnam, 1991.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, fourth edition, St. James Press, 2000.

Springer, John, The Fondas: The Films and Careers of Henry, Jane, and Peter Fonda, Citadel Press, 1970.


Cinema X, Volume 3, issue 11, pp. 74-75.

Harper's Bazaar, June, 1997, p. 148.

Interview, June, 1997, pp. 113-14.

Madison, September, 1999, pp. 118-25.

Miami Herald, June 27, 1997.

Motorcyclist, January, 2000, p. 75.

Neon, May, 1998.

New York Times Magazine, March 22, 1998.

Papermag, June, 1997.

People Weekly, March 16, 1998.

Premiere, July, 1997, pp. 39-42.

USA Today, June 27, 1997; March 23, 1998.

Fonda, Peter

views updated Jun 27 2018

FONDA, Peter

Nationality: American. Born: New York City, 23 February 1939; son of Henry Jaynes (an actor) and Frances Sophia (a financier; maiden name, Seymour) Fonda; brother of actress-activist Jane Fonda. Family: Married 1) Susan Jane Brewer, October 8, 1961 (divorced, April 1974); 2) Portia Rebecca Crockett McGuane (a writer), 1976; children: Bridget, Justin, Thomas (step-son). Education: Attended University of Omaha, 1957–60. Career: Film debut as Dr. Mark Cheswick, Tammy and the Doctor, Universal, 1963; actor in television specials, including Carol for Another Christmas, 1964; The Return of the Smothers Brothers, 1970; Circus of the Stars, CBS, 1977; Welcome Home, HBO, 1987; Sgt. Pepper: It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, PBS, 1987; Unauthorized Biography: Jane Fonda, syndicated, 1988; National Basketball Players Association Awards, 1989; Dennis Hopper, Crazy about the Movies, Cinemax, 1991; Fonda on Fonda, TNT, 1992; Blue Water Hunters (documentary), PBS, 1992; and Harley-Davidson: The American Motorcycle, TBS, 1993; narrated The American Dream TV series, 1998; actor in several television episodes, 1962—; actor in roles on stage, including (stage debut) lead, The Golden Fleece, Omaha Community Playhouse, Omaha, NE, 1960; (New York debut) Private Oglethorpe, Blood, Sweat, and Stanley Poole, Morosco Theatre, 1961; and lead, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Mineola Playhouse, New York City, 1962. Awards: Theatre World ward, 1961–62; Golden Globe award, best actor, Independent Spirit Award, best male lead, and New York Film Critics Circle Award, best actor, all 1998, all for Ulee's Gold.Address: Indian Hills Ranch, Route 38G, Box 2040, Livingston, MT 59047, U.S.A. Agent: William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


The Victors (Foreman) (as Weaver); Tammy and the Doctor (Keller) (as Dr. Mark Cheswick)


Lilith (Rossen) (as Stephen Evshevsky); The Young Lovers (Goldwyn Jr.) (as Eddie Slocum)


The Wild Angels (Corman) (as Heavenly Blues)


The Trip (Corman) (as Paul Groves)


Certain Honorable Men (Segal—for TV) (as Robbie Conroy); Tre passi nel delirio (Spirits of the Dead, Tales of Mystery and Imagination) (Fellini, Malle, Vadim) (as Baron Wilhelm)


Easy Rider (Hopper) (as Wyatt (Captain America)) (+ sc, pr)


The Hired Hand (as Harry Collings) (+ sc, d); The Last Movie (Chinchero) (Hopper) (as Young Sheriff)


Two People (Wise) (as Evan Bonner)


Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (Hough) (as Larry Rayder); Los Cazadores (Open Season) (Collinson) (as Ken)


Race with the Devil (Starrett) (as Roger March); 92 in the Shade (McGuane) (as Skelton); Killer Force (Guest) (as Bradley)


Futureworld (Heffron) (as Chuck Browning); Fighting Mad (Demme) (as Tom Hunter)


Circus of the Stars #2 (Bregman—for TV) (as Performer); Outlaw Blues (Heffron) (as Bobby Ogden)


High-Ballin' (Carter) (as Rane)


The Recon Game (Collinson); Wanda Nevada (as Beaudray Demerille) (+ d)


The Hostage Tower (Guzman—for TV) (as Mike Graham)


The Cannonball Run (Needham) (as Chief Biker)


Split Image (Kotcheff) (as Kirklander)


Spasms (Death Bite) (Fruet) (as Dr. Tom Brasilian); Daijoobu, Mai Furendo (All Right, My Friend) (Murakami) (as Gonzy Traumerai); Dance of the Dwarfs (Dance of the Dwarves, Jungle Heat) (Trikonis) (as Harry Bediker); Peppermint-Frieden (Rosenbaum) (as Mr. Freedom)


Certain Fury (Gyllenhaal) (as Rodney); A Reason to Live (Levin—for TV) (as Gus Stewart)


Hawken's Breed (Pierce); Mercenary Fighters (Freedom Fighters) (Nissimoff) (as Virelli)


Indifferenti, Gli (Bolognini, mini—for TV) (as Leo); Sonore (Sound) (Proietti—for TV)


The Rose Garden (Der Rosengarten) (Rademakers) (as Herbert Schluter)


Fatal Mission (Rowe) (+ sc); Flashing on the Sixties: A Tribal Document (Law) (as Himself)


Family Express (as Nick)


South Beach (Williamson) (as Jake)


Bodies, Rest & Motion (Steinberg) (as Motorcycle Rider); Deadfall (Coppola) (as Pete); Molly & Gina (Burnhill)(Leder) (as Larry Stanton); Warren Oates: Across the Border (Thurman) (as Himself)


Nadja (Almereyda) (as Dracula/Dr. Van Helsing); Love and a .45 (Talkington) (as Vergil Cheatham)


Grace of My Heart (Anders) (as Guru Dave); Escape from L.A. (Carpenter) (as Pipeline); Don't Look Back (Murphy—for TV) (as Mouse); Painted Hero (Shadow of the Past) (Benedict) (as Ray the Cook)


Ulee's Gold (Nunez) (as Ulysses "Ulee" Jackson)


The Tempest (Bender—for TV) (as Guideon Prosper)


The Limey (Soderbergh) (as Valentine); The Passion of Ayn Rand (Menaul) (as Frank); Keeping Time (Cain); Motorcycles: Born to Be Wild (for TV) (as Host/Narrator)


Thomas and the Magic Railroad (Allcroft) (as Grandpa Burnett); Stone South of Heaven, West of Hell (Yoakam); Route 66: America's Main Street (Baker—for TV) (as Host); Second Skin (Roodt) (as Merv Gutman)

Other Films:


Idaho Transfer (Deranged) (d)


By FONDA: books—

Don't Tell Dad (memoir), New York, 1998.

On FONDA: books—

Brough, James, Fabulous Fondas, McKay, 1970.

Springer, John, The Fondas: The Films and Careers of Henry, Jane, and Peter Fonda, New York, 1970.

Collier, Peter, The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty, New York, 1991.

Hill, Lee, Easy Rider, London, 1996.

On FONDA: articles—

Miller, E., "Peter Fonda on His Own," in Seventeen, August 1963.

Reed, R., "Holden Caulfield at 27," in Esquire, February 1968.

Ewing, Iain, and Tony Reif, "Fonda," in Take One, vol. 2, no. 3, January-February 1969.

Goldstein, Richard, "Captain America, The Beautiful," in The New York Times, 3 August 1969.

Campbell, Elizabeth, "Peter Fonda and the Making of Easy Rider," in Rolling Stone, 6 September 1969.

"Thoughts and Attitudes about Easy Rider," in Film Quarterly, Autumn 1969.

Thompson, Toby, "The Disappearance of Peter Fonda," in Esquire, March 1984.

Maslin, Janet, "From the Company of Bees to That of Humans," in The New York Times, 13 June 1997.

Schoemer, Karen, "Rebirth of a Cult Hero," in Newsweek, 16 June 1997.

Singer, M., "Whose Movie Is This?" in New Yorker, 22–29 June 1998.

Wertheimer, Ron, "The Ayn Rand Cliff Notes: Philosophy as Foreplay," in The New York Times, 28 May 1999.

Maslin, Janet, "Touring Show-Business Royalty and Its Under-world," in The New York Times, 8 October 1999.

* * *

Most movie stars are either briefly famous or seem to have been around forever; an acting career with a "second act" is a rarity. But Peter Fonda is definitely an actor's whose career has enjoyed a second act. After becoming internationally famous with his 1969 classic Easy Rider, it would be another 28 years before he received his first Academy Award nomination for the 1997 film Ulee's Gold—and saw the rebirth of his career.

Peter Fonda is a member of one of filmdom's most formidable Hollywood dynasties—the Fondas—and for much of his career he has had to work in the shadow of father Henry, sister Jane, and even daughter Bridget. Born in 1939, Peter was sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Nebraska following his mother's suicide, and he studied acting at the University of Omaha. He made his Broadway debut in Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole, for which the New York Drama Critics Circle named him the most promising actor of 1961. Following his screen debut in Tammy and the Doctor (1963), he made two more big-budget films—The Victors and Lillith (both 1964)—before a marijuana-influenced lifestyle and appearance change left him virtually unemployable in mainstream films.

Fortunately this was no impediment for his new-found friends at American International Pictures under Roger Corman, then the King of B movies. Fonda's next two films, The Wild Angels (1966) and the Jack Nicholson-written The Trip (1967), were popular with the youth market, became cult favorites and familiarized Fonda with the basics of 'guerrilla' filmmaking—working extraordinarily cheaply outside the studio system. During a 1967 publicity tour for The Trip, after smoking some grass and drinking some beer in his Toronto hotel room filled with publicity photos he was expected to sign, Fonda kept starring at a publicity still from The Wild Angels of himself and Bruce Dern on a motorcycle, and "I understood immediately just what kind of motorcycle, sex, and drug movie I should make next." Instead of a hundred Hells Angels on their way to a funeral, it would be two bikers in search of America—a reverse Western, heading East. He knew how it would end and, after sketching out the beginning and middle, he called his friend Dennis Hopper and proposed that they both write and star in what would eventually become Easy Rider, with Fonda to produce and Hooper to direct. Writer Terry Southern also made major contributions to the script. Because Fonda had miscalculated when Mardi Gras started, the filmmakers were suddenly forced to film the Mardi Gras sequence first. While filming the graveyard scene where the two leads and their hooker dates (Karen Black and Toni Basil) drop acid, Hooper asked Fonda to climb up onto a statue and ask his mother why she had abandoned him by committing suicide. Fonda objected to using his personal life so publicly, but Hopper won out, and the final scene is quite effective.

Fonda as Wyatt (Captain America) is definitely the film's central character; he is the one who inevitably realizes that he and Billy "blew it," and according to The New York Times he also "embodies an entire culture—its heroes and its myths." Playboy said not since James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause or Brando's The Wild One "has a movie actor so captured the imagination and admiration of a generation." But Fonda's acting is often overlooked because of the much-flashier roles of his two main costars: Hopper as Billy, the ultimate egocentric hippie, and Nicholson as drunken attorney George Hanson, in a performance that would forever establish his film career. In fact, both Hopper (before Easy Rider in Giant, and after in Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, and Speed) and Nicholson (from Five Easy Pieces to As Good As It Gets) have long had distinguished film careers, while a 1984 Esquire article about Fonda was entitled "The Disappearance of Peter Fonda." It concerned how he had directed a couple films and had appeared in dozens of low-budget and foreign flicks, some of which did quite well (Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry for example), "and twenty-odd films later I haven't been offered a large-budget movie. Why aren't I offered the good scripts, like my sister."

That good script he hoped for in 1984 turned out to be for a no-budget film released in 1997: Victor Nuñez's Ulee's Gold, the story of a Florida beekeeper with a son in prison, a vanished daughter-inlaw, and two granddaughters living with him with whom he barely connects. The plot begins when his son calls from prison telling Ulee he has to go collect his daughter-in-law, who is being held by two thugs. When Fonda read the script he knew, "This was the role for me. I was this man. The part of Ulee—short for Ulysses—demanded the kind of performance only actors like my father give. They must be played with the lightest touch. As a matter of fact, they must be played by being the part." The New York Times' Janet Maslin called his performance "quietly astonishing," adding, "It would be accurate but barely adequate to call this the finest work of Mr. Fonda's career. Lionized nearly 30 years ago as the epitome of hip complacency, then dormant for a long while, he emerges here as a figure of unexpected stature." His performance earned him an Oscar nomination and more roles. In Steven Soderbergh's The Limey (1999), Maslin said Fonda played his role "with what seems to be a sense memory of every Hollywood-style rich hipster he ever encountered, which is to say he gets right into the spirit of things." And The New York Times' Ron Wertheimer claimed that, in the Showtime film The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999), "only Peter Fonda, as Rand's pathetic husband, Frank O'Connor, is really worth watching." One gets the feeling Fonda will at last be given the opportunity to play more roles worth watching.

—Bob Sullivan

Fonda, Peter

views updated May 23 2018

FONDA, Peter

FONDA, Peter. American, b. 1939. Genres: Plays/Screenplays. Career: Actor, screenwriter, film producer, film director. Publications: (with D. Hopper and T. Southern) Easy Rider (screenplay), 1969; (with A. Sharp) The Hired Hand (screenplay), 1971; Fatal Mission (screenplay), 1990; Don't Tell Dad (memoir), 1998. Address: Indian Hills Ranch, Route 38G, Box 2040, Livingston, MT 59047, U.S.A.