Actor Peter Fonda, who earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing “Easy Rider” in which he co-starred as a doomed motorcycle-riding hippie with Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, died Friday in Los Angeles at age 79.
In a statement to People magazine, his family says the actor — son of Henry Fonda, brother of Jane Fonda and father of Bridget Fonda — died at 11:05 a.m. at his home of 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. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy,” according to the family. “And, while we mourn the loss of this sweet and gracious man, we also wish for all to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life. In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”
The quintessential road movie, “Easy Rider” remains a cult classic, both for its iconic cast and its 1969 counter-culture underpinnings. It also elevated Fonda to a star in his own right, beyond his famed father and sibling.
Fonda began his career with successful runs on Broadway in the early 1960s. He moved into a series of TV appearances before making his film debut in the 1963 comedy “Tammy and the Doctor.” He shared the screen with Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd in Roger Corman’s “The Wild Angels,” and appeared with Dern again in Corman’s “The Trip” before achieving fame with “Easy Rider.”
Years later, he would earn another Oscar nomination for his turn as beekeeper Ulee Jackson in “Ulee’s Gold.” He didn’t win the Oscar, but he did take home a Golden Globe for the role. He won another Golden Globe two years later for his supporting work in the TV movie “The Passion of Ayn Rand,” co- starring Helen Mirren.
Responding to her brother’s death, Jane Fonda told Variety, “I am very sad. 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.”
Flowers were being placed Friday afternoon on Fonda’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star. His star is located at 7018 Hollywood Blvd., adjacent to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
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