Peter Fonda, star of 'Easy Rider,' dies at age 79

Actor and director Peter Fonda, who stepped out of his legendary Hollywood father's shadow to become a counterculture icon with his role in "Easy Rider," has died. He was 79.

Fonda died of respiratory failure due to lung cancer at his Los Angeles home, his family said in a statement Friday."It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away," the family said. "... 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 the son of actor Henry Fonda and the brother of actress and activist Jane Fonda, he was a member of the Hollywood powerhouse family. His daughter is actress Bridget Fonda.

In a statement, Jane Fonda said she spent her younger brother's final days with him.

"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," she said. Fonda broke out as a star with his turn in the 1969 blockbuster "Easy Rider," which marked its 50th anniversary this year. The film also starred Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper.

Film critic Roger Ebert called the film "one of the rallying-points of the late '60s," saying it was a buddy picture that celebrated "sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and the freedom of the open road."

"It did a lot of repeat business while the sweet smell of pot drifted through theaters," Ebert wrote of the film in 2004.

Fonda was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay, a nomination he shared with Hopper.

"I never stopped working, thanks to 'Easy Rider,' " Fonda told The Los Angeles Times in 2007.

His last tweet on August 9 referenced the film: "Easy Rider' at 50: How they put together that groundbreaking soundtrack."

The family asked for privacy to grieve, but said they wished for people to "celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life"

"In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom," the family said.

Freedom was a word Fonda often invoked.

"I believe that one is only truly free when one is learning, and one can only learn when one is free. Freedom is NOT just another word for 'nothing left to lose,'" Fonda said on his website.

Directors, writers, actors and fans took to social media to mourn Fonda.

"RIP Peter Fonda, counter culture legend, groundbreaking actor and all around real life hero, Edgar Wright, who wrote and directed "Baby Driver" said on Twitter.

Ava DuVernay, who directed "Selma," reposted a photo she took with Fonda at a dinner: "Our photo theme was 'crazy', but my takeaway from dinner seated next to the legendary @IAmFonda was 'kind' and 'wise.'"

"Rest in Peace, Kind Sir," she wrote. "


Peter Fonda


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