A look back at Easy Rider star Peter Fonda’s storied Hollywood career.
“I WAS famous from birth,” said Peter Henry Fonda, thanks to a movie-star dad to whom he could never get close. “Getting out from under the shadow of Henry Fonda was difficult.” But in the ’60s he transformed from Hollywood scion to counterculture icon in the blockbuster biker movie Easy Rider. “I don’t trust anybody who didn’t inhale,” he’s joked, but claimed his “intake of substances was far below what people thought, no matter how weird they think I am.” While he had to overcome his mom’s suicide and differentiate himself from his sister, Jane (and, at times, from his daughter, Bridget), Peter, who turns 77 on Feb. 23, found himself through writing, activism and a love of the outdoors. He eventually cultivated a maturity in his later years with a simple credo: “If
you do not have passion [for something], don’t do it.”
“I have always maintained that society has no business dictating morality.”
1963 LOST AND FONDA “My father never told me or my sister [Jane] much, because he did not know how to show emotion,” Peter said of his dad, Henry Fonda. “So he [emotionally] abandoned [us] when I was 3.… [Jane and I] shared many experiences that were traumatic. She came to my rescue several times.”