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Jane Fonda on Peter Fonda's Death: 'He Went Out Laughing'

'Easy Rider' star died of respiratory failure from cancer at age of 79
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 17, 2019 5:30 AM CDT
In this April 27, 2013, file photo, Jane Fonda, right, poses with brother Peter Fonda in front of their father Henry Fonda's hand and footprints as the TCM Classic Film Festival honors Jane Fonda with...   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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(Newser) – 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, per the AP. He was 79. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer. "I am very sad," Jane Fonda said in a statement. "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." 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 never won that golden statuette, but he was later nominated for his turn as a Vietnam veteran and widowed beekeeper in "Ulee's Gold."

Fonda was born in New York in 1940 to Henry Fonda and Frances Ford Seymour, a Canadian-born US socialite, who killed herself when Peter Fonda was just 10. Fonda produced Easy Rider and Dennis Hopper directed it for a meager $380,000. It went on to gross $40 million worldwide, a substantial sum for its time. He remained prolific for the rest of his life, with notable performances as the heel in Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, from 1999, and in James Mangold's 2007 update of 3:10 to Yuma. Although Fonda never achieved the status of his father or his older sister, the impact of Easy Rider was enough to cement his place in popular culture. Fonda had an estranged relationship with his father for most of his life, but he said that they grew closer over the years before Henry Fonda died in 1982. Fonda is survived by his third wife, Margaret DeVogelaere, as well as his daughter, actress Bridget Fonda, and his son, Justin, both from his first marriage to Susan Brewer. (Read more Peter Fonda stories.)

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