Easy Rider’s Peter Fonda Is Dead At 79

Peter Fonda in Easy Rider

There are various families that have been fixtures in Hollywood for generations, including the Fondas. Sadly, one of that clan’s most well-known members is no longer with us, as Easy Rider star Peter Fonda has died at the age of 79.

It’s been announced that Peter Fonda passed away this morning at his home in Los Angeles from respiratory failure due to lung cancer. He is survived by his daughter Bridget Fonda, his son Justin Fonda and his sister Jane Fonda. Here’s what the family had to say in a public statement (via THR):

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. 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.

Like Jane, Peter Fonda followed in the footsteps of his father, Henry Fonda (whose notable include The Grapes of Wrath and 12 Angry Men) and jumped into the world of acting, making his film debut in 1963’s Tammy and the Doctor. It’d be six years later that he’d rise to stardom in Easy Rider, where he played a biker named Wyatt alongside Dennis Hopper’s Billy.

In addition to being the main stars, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper wrote the Easy Rider script together with Terry Southern, while Hopper handled the directing duties and Fonda served as producer. The film, which remains one of the most well-known counterculture cinematic tales, was met with critical and commercial claim, and walked away with two Academy Award nominations: Best Original Screenplay for Fonda and Hopper’s work, and Best Supporting Actor for a young Jack Nicholson.

In the decades after Easy Rider, Peter Fonda’s film work ranged from like Hired Hand and Wanda Nevada (both of which he also directed) to The Cannonball Run to 3:10 to Yuma. In 1997, he played Ulysses “Ulee” Jackson in Ulee’s Gold, and he’d later win a Golden Globe and earn an Academy Award nomination for the performance.

He even dipped his toe into the comic book movie world when he played Mephistopheles (better known in the Marvel Comics universe as Mephisto) in 2007’s Ghost Rider. Peter Fonda’s last film appearance will be the posthumously-released war drama The Last Full Measure, which comes out on October 25.

Additionally, Peter Fonda left a mark in the television realm with many TV movies, including 1990’s The Passion of Ayn Rand, for which he won a Golden Globe and earn an Emmy nomination. He also guest-starred on shows like ER, CSI: NY, Californication, Hawaii 5-0 and The Blacklist. He was supposed to appear on the Amazon series Jack Ryan, but that never materialized.

If you have a favorite Peter Fonda role or memory, feel free to share it in the comments below. We here at CinemaBlend offer our condolences to his family, friends and loved ones. Find out what movies are being released for the rest of the year in our 2019 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.