Counterculture Icon & 'Easy Rider' Star Peter Fonda Dead At 79

Photo: TCM Archives
How Did Peter Fonda Die? New Details On Death Of Counterculture Icon And 'Easy Rider' Star

He was a counterculture legend, part of the Fonda acting family, and one of the two people who made Easy Rider an absolute classic. Today, however, he died. But how did Peter Fonda die?

Let's look at what we know of the death of this legend. 

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1. He was a member of the distinguished Fonda family of actors. 

Peter Henry Fonda was the son of the legendary Henry Fonda. His older sister, Jane Fonda, is another legendary actress and feminist. He had two children — Bridget and Justin — who were also actors in their own right. His mother, Frances Ford Seymour, was a Canadian-born American socialite, and the second wife of Henry Fonda. 

Jane Fonda was devastated about Peter Fonda's death. 

"Though Jane said that she was devastated by Peter’s passing, she also revealed that she had spent some alone time with him before his death and reassured everyone that her little brother “went out laughing.” “I am very sad,” Jane said in a statement. “He was my sweet-hearted baby brother, the talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days,” she added. “He went out laughing."

3. He was known for his role in the 1960s counterculture.

What made Peter Fonda a cultural icon is the fact that he was part of the so-called "American Counterculture" of the 1960s. Because he was someone who grew his hair out and dropped acid frequently, he upset "establishment" Hollywood. And it wasn't until his role in Easy Rider, opposite Jack Nicholson, that Peter Fonda became a legend in his own right. 

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4. Peter Fonda recently had a bit of a dust-up with the Trump family. 

The Trump family is notoriously thin-skinned and whiny, but when Peter Fonda tweeted about Barron Trump, he drew the ire of Donald Trump and his minions. (To be fair, he could have taken aim at the other four Trump children, who are all adults, rather than Barron, who is not). Trump called for a boycott of all of Fonda's work, and while he subsequently deleted the tweets about Barron and apologized to the Trumps, Sony Pictures — who released Boundaries on his behalf — condemned his actions. 

5. His last film will be released posthumously. 

Peter Fonda's last film — a war drama called The Last Full Measure — will be released posthumously. The film is set to hit theaters in October 2019, and also stars Sebastian Stan, Linus Roache, and Diane Ladd. 

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6. Peter Fonda died of respiratory failure caused by lung cancer.

"Actor Peter Fonda, the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the 1969 counterculture classic Easy Rider has died. He was 79 years old. His family said in a statement that Mr. Fonda died Friday morning at his Los Angeles home. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer," said a report.

Our thoughts are with Peter Fonda's family during this difficult time. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.