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Peter Fonda, Easy Rider Star & Hollywood Legend, Dies at 79

It’s a very sad day in Hollywood as legendary actor and Easy Rider star Peter Fonda has reportedly passed away. A rep for Fonda confirmed the actor’s passing, but as of now, there’s no details on a possible cause of death. Reportedly, Fonda had been spending a lot of time in the hospital with an undisclosed ailment which may have contributed to his passing. He was 79 years old.

Fonda is a member of the famous Fonda acting family, which is also comprised of father Henry, sister Jane, and daughter Bridget. Born in 1940 in New York City, the future Hollywood legend did not have the easiest childhood. When Fonda was 10 years old, his mother committed suicide in a mental hospital, although he didn’t learn about the circumstances of her death until years later. Things got worse soon after on Fonda’s 11th birthday, when he accidentally shot himself and nearly died. Years later, Fonda is said to have told John Lennon and Paul McCartney about the incident, saying, “I know what it’s like to be dead.” According to Lennon, this directly inspired the hit Beatles song “She Said She Said.”

In the early ’60s, Fonda began his acting career by working on Broadway and performing on stage. He then began snagging bit parts in TV shows like Naked City, The New Breed, and The Defenders. Fonda’s first movie role came in 1963, starring opposite Sandra Dee in Tammy and the Doctor. His next movie, The Victors, earned him a Golden Globe Award for most promising newcomer. Fonda then moved on to bigger roles in movies like The Young Lovers and Lilith with Gene Hackman, Jean Seberg, and Warren Beatty. The actor then began appearing in the counterculture movies of the ’60s like Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels, which saw him play a Hells Angels biker named Heavenly Blues.

Perhaps the most well-known of Fonda’s famous roles from the ’60s is as Wyatt in Easy Rider. Also produced and co-written by Fonda, the movie follows a pair of bikers traveling through the southern United States with Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the lead roles. Directed by Hopper, the movie also starred such names as Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, and Warren Finnerty. When it was released in 1969, it was met with incredible success, both critically and commercially. Against its budget of about $400,000, the movie wound up pulling in $60 million in ticket sales. Easy Rider garnered multiple Academy Award nominations as well, including Best Supporting Actor for Nicholson and Best Original screenplay for Fonda, Hopper, and Terry Southern. It was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998, further immortalizing it forever.

As recently as this year, Fonda has continued to act on both the big and small screens. He has notably appeared in movies like Ulee’s Gold and Ghost Rider, as well as TV series such as The Blacklist and Ride with Norman Reedus . His final role will be in the upcoming war drama The Last Full Measure which is due for a release on Oct. 25, 2019. RIP. Our thoughts are with the Fonda family and friends at this time. News of Fonda’s passing comes to us from TMZ.

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