‘Easy Rider’ Star Peter Fonda Passes Away At 79

Hollywood is in mourning today after actor Peter Fonda, best known for writing and starring in the cult classic Easy Rider, passed away on Friday at the age of 79. The star reportedly died after a battle with 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,” Peter’s family said in a statement. “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.”

Peter was born into Hollywood royalty, as he was the son of legendary actor Henry Fonda and the younger brother of actress Jane Fonda. He found great success for Hollywood himself, earning an Oscar nomination for writing Easy Rider and another for acting in Ulee’s Gold. After Peter’s death, his sister Jane released a brief statement paying tribute to him.

“I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family,” she said. “I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”

One of the highlights of Peter’s career was sharing the screen with his father for the only time in the 1979 film Wanda Nevada, which he also directed.

“A fairy tale. A perfectly written fairy tale,” Peter said. “I was fortunate enough to cast my dad. And he came and played for one day with us. And it was really an amazing moment for me, to be able to work with my father, to direct him and act in a scene with him. Up until that moment, no matter the success of Easy Rider, and the tremendous success of Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, these were not films that my father would understand.”

“In 1978, I’m shooting in the Grand Canyon with my father, who’s basically dying,” Peter continued ( his father passed away in 1982 from heart disease at age 77). “Any rate, it was fabulous. We had such a good time. He just did one day’s work. And I was warning him he had to chew tobacco, so I had all this licorice ready for him to spit instead. I said ‘I don’t chew tobacco, and I don’t want you chewing tobacco.’ He said, ‘Nope, I’m gonna do it!’ You know, stubborn. And so he passed out at lunch!”

“I got a letter, the fifth one I ever got from him, this fabulous letter,” he added. “Basically it said, ‘In my 41 years of making motion pictures, I have never seen a crew so devoted to a director, and you’re a very good director, Son. And I love you very much.’ The first time it had been put in writing, and there it was. Signed, ‘Love, your dad.’ It was just amazing.”

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