Hollywood icon Peter Fonda has died at age 79 after a battle with lung cancer. In a statement, the Fonda family said: “It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away. Fonda, 79 years old, passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16th, at 11:05 a.m. at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer.”
The statement continued: “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. In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”
Fonda rose to fame co-writing and starring in the seminal film, Easy Rider. His sister, Jane Fonda, told Variety of her brother: “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.”
Peter and Jane’s father was Henry Fonda, a Hollywood trailblazer who starred in several classic films, including The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, and On Golden Pond. His mother, an American socialite named Frances Ford Seymour, married Henry in 1936. They reportedly had a troubled relationship; three months after Henry asked for a divorce, she committed suicide. Peter was 10. He found out about her death after his sister Jane read about it in a magazine.
The Hired Hand star earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 1970. He was also nominated as Best Actor in 1998 for Ulee’s Gold.
Fonda snagged two Golden Globes: a Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama award in 1998 for Ulee’s Gold and a Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television statue two years later for his part in The Passion of Ayn Rand.
He is survived by his wife Margaret DeVogeleare, whom he married in 2011 and his children, Bridget and Justin Fonda. He was previously married to Susan Brewer from 1961 to 1974 and Portia Rebecca Crockett from 1975 to 2011.