Actor Peter Fonda tragically passed away on August 16 at the age of 79 after suffering respiratory failure due to lung cancer. He is survived by his wife Margaret ‘Parky’ DeVogelaere and his two children, Bridget and Justin.
Peter Fonda was best known for his role as Wyatt in the 1969 film “Easy Rider”. He was also a well-known figure in the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
Fonda comes from a legendary family of actors which include his father Henry Fonda and sister Jane Fonda. Henry Fonda was a trailblazer in the early days of Hollywood. He starred in several classic films during his 60-year career including The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, and On Golden Pond. He won two “Best Actor” Academy Awards for his roles in On Golden Pond (1981) and Grapes of Wrath (1941).
His sister Jane Fonda had a similarly impressive career. She also won two “Best Actress” Oscars for her roles in “Klute” (1971) and “Coming Home” (1978). Jane co-starred with actor Robert Redford in several movies including the breakout hit “Barefoot in the Park” in 1967.
“I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother,” Fonda said in the statement to Deadline. “The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”
Peter Fonda was married three times. First to Susan Brewer, the mother of his two children, Bridget and Justin, then to Portia Crockett in 1975. He divorced Crockett in 2011 and married Margaret ‘Parky’ DeVogelaere in Hawaii later that year.
Following the tragic news of Peter’s death, his family released the following statement, “It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away. [Peter] passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16 at 11:05 a.m. at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to 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. 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.”
Here’s what you need to know about Peter Fonda’s kids and family:
1. His Daughter, Bridget, Stopped Acting in 2003 After a Car Accident
Bridget Fonda was a rising star in the 1990s with films that included The Godfather: Part III, Single White Female, Jackie Brown, and Lake Placid before disappearing from the movie business. Her last role was in the Hallmark Channel miniseries The Snow Queen.
According to the New York Post, Bridget was involved in a serious car accident in February 2003. She was driving her 2001 Jaguar down the Pacific Coast Highway in a heavy rainstorm when she lost control, flipped over an embankment and tumbled down a hill. Her car flipped several times and was totaled but she incredibly escaped with only minor scrapes and bruises. She was able to survive the violent crash because she was wearing her seatbelt, authorities said at the time.
The cause of the crash was unclear at the time but police told the Post she was “probably driving too fast on the steep, rain-slicked road.”
Following the crash, Bridget’s acting career ceased entirely. She married her longtime boyfriend, Oingo Boingo singer Danny Elfman, in November 2003 and gave birth to their son Oliver Elfman in 2005.
She has not appeared in any TV or film roles since and is very private about her personal life. She does not have any public social media accounts.
2. Justin Fonda Had a Cameo in Peter’s Iconic Film, Easy Rider
According to IMDB, Justin Fonda appeared in Peter’s iconic film Easy Rider as “Child in Commune”. He was three years old at the time and is uncredited in his role.
In the movie, Wyatt picks up a hitchhiking hippie who takes him to a commune where they hang out for a day. There is a scene where the hippie leads the commune in prayer before lunch. Several children appear in the scene, one of which is Justin.
Justin followed in his father’s footsteps and worked in Hollywood but chose to stay behind the scenes instead of acting. He was a cameraman in Hollywood in the late 90s and early 2000s and was a first assistant on several films. His last work included the films Mercy Streets (2000) and Vertical Limit (2000).
3. His Mother Frances Seymour Committed Suicide When He Was 10 Years Old
Peter Fonda’s mother, Frances Ford Seymour, was an American socialite who married Henry Fonda in 1936. The two reportedly had a troubled marriage and Jane Fonda said that her mother was a victim of frequent sexual abuse in her childhood.
Three months after Henry Fonda asked her for a divorce, she was a patient at Craig House, a sanatorium in Beacon, New York where she committed suicide by cutting her throat with razor blades. Peter was 10 years old.
Initially, Peter and Jane were unaware of how their mother died. According to Express, they were “kept away from the hastily organized private funeral and only learned the truth about how she died years later from strangers.”
“Jane read it in a magazine. I was told she had died of a heart attack but I didn’t know what that meant.” Peter said in an interview, “At the time all magazines and newspapers were kept away from the house and my mother’s name was never mentioned again.”
“The Christmas after I piled presents on a chair for her. Jane thought I had really lost it.” he explained, “It was very tough, no question, but nobody can change what happened and I’m 74 now and I don’t have to carry it in my heart.”
4. He Didn’t Have a Close Relationship with His Father Until Later in Life
Peter Fonda had a distant relationship with his father Henry. He broke down during a Q&A session in 2014 while talking about his father. When asked about it later, he told Express, “That wasn’t for effect,” adding, “My dad’s family were Christian Scientists. They believe that if you’re hurt or in pain you cure it by praying. Crying was not acceptable. My father was a shy man. To his dying day we only ever knew seven stories about him. He was afraid of strong emotion.”
“He could do on stage what he could not do in life because on stage he was given the words to express feeling.” He said of his father, “He just wasn’t available to us. But, you know, he didn’t beat us and we ate well.”
Peter said he and his father became closer as he got older and had a healthy relationship before Henry passed away in 1982.
5. Peter Fonda Hated His Sister’s Second Husband, Tom Hayden
Peter Fonda was not a fan of Jane Fonda’s ex-husband, Tom Hayden.
Tom Hayden was a prominent figure in the American radical left in the 1960s known for his extreme views and organizing what sometimes became violent protests. He was a leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement and traveled to the country as a peace campaigner in 1965.
Tom and Jane Fonda met in the early 70s and quickly became close over their shared anti-war views, eventually getting married in 1973. He reportedly despised Jane’s fame but used $500,000 of her money to fund an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 1975. She also funded his next, successful, campaign for the California State assembly in 1982 using profits from her $20 million exercise studio fitness empire.
Jane poured another $17 million into Tom’s “Campaign for Economic Democracy”, an organization he founded to promote progressive causes. He then met another woman and asked for a divorce from Jane on her birthday in 1988.
Peter is still upset about how Tim treated his sister, telling Express in 2014, “”That commie prevert [sic] had my sister and he used her for his own ends.” said Fonda, “Frankly he’s lucky he’s still alive.”