Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Peter Henry Fonda (born February 23, 1939) is an American actor. Born in New York City, he is the son of actor Henry Fonda, the brother of actress Jane Fonda and the father of actress Bridget Fonda. His mother, Frances Ford Seymour , committed suicide in 1950 when Peter was 11 years old. Peter Fonda studied acting in Omaha, Nebraska, his father's home town. He attended the University of Omaha and joined the Omaha Community Playhouse, where many famous actors (including his father and Marlon Brando) got their starts. Soon he was back in New York, then went to Hollywood to make movies.
Fonda tried out for the part of the young John F. Kennedy in PT 109, but didn't get the role. Instead, he appeared in such teen fare as Tammy and the Bachelor . His first serious role was in the 1966 motorcycle film The Wild Angels (nowadays perhaps best known for its dialogue sampled by the Primal Scream recording Loaded). It was at this point that he began to experiment with hallucinogenic drugs. John Lennon wrote the song "She Said She Said" about Fonda, who told him "I know what it's like to be dead" following an LSD trip. This experience shows in Fonda's 1967 film The Trip, which is about taking LSD.
It was in 1969 that Fonda made the cult movie for which he is still known, Easy Rider. He co-wrote the film with Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern, and the trio was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced.
Fonda's career has not been particularly fruitful in the ensuing years. He has appeared in such movies as Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974), Race With The Devil and 92 In the Shade (both 1975) The Cannonball Run (1981), Najda (1997), and Ulee's Gold (1997), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Fonda's movie career is made the more interesting for the extreme contrast between the wide-eyed and questing (though possibly amoral, certainly drug-dealing) rebel motorcyclist in Easy Rider and the upright war-veteran father (played by Fonda nearly three decades later, in Ulee's Gold) who tries to share his wisdom about integrity with his wayward son and saves his drug-addict daughter-in-law's bacon.
He has also directed movies Wanda Nevada and Idaho Transfer.
- "Don't Tell Dad " autobiography by Peter Fonda (1998)
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