Countercultural icon Peter Fonda came from a show business family that included his father, Oscar-winner Henry Fonda, and sister, Jane Fonda.
Fonda’s mother, New York socialite Frances Ford Seymour, suffered from mental illness and killed herself by slitting her own throat in a sanitarium in 1950, when Fonda was 10 years old.
Fonda followed in his father’s footsteps and studied acting at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and got his start in Omaha community theater before returning to New York to take on Broadway. His time in New York was short before he went to Hollywood to make movies, where his film debut was “Tammy and the Doctor” in 1963. Soon after, he joined the anti-establishment, antiwar movement in Los Angeles, grew his hair long and found himself on the outside of the studio gates, looking in.
In 1966, he appeared in the Roger Corman-produced low budget biker picture “The Wild Angels.” The next year, he appeared in another Corman counterculture film, “The Trip” about LSD.
Using the knowledge of low-budget filmmaking he learned from Corman, Fonda produced, cowrote and starred in his own biker picture, “Easy Rider,” directed by costar Dennis Hopper. The film became a cultural touchstone for America’s youth and set the stage for a wave of fresh filmmakers and filmmaking techniques in Hollywood during the 1970s. Fonda and his coscreenwriters were nominated for an Oscar.
Fonda’s acting and directing careers continued to diminishing returns throughout the 1970s and '80s, but he had a comeback in 1997 playing an elderly beekeeper in the independent film, “Ulee’s Gold.” That performance earned Fonda his first Oscar nomination for acting.
|1969||Best Original Screenplay||Easy Rider||Nomination*|
|1997||Best Actor||Ulee's Gold||Nomination|