“Easy Rider” star Peter Fonda, brother of Jane and son of Henry, dead at 79

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Writer, director and actor Peter Fonda, son of legendary actor Henry Fonda and brother of Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda, has died, ABC News has confirmed.  He was 79.

 

In a statement, Peter's family said that he died Friday morning at his home in Los Angeles of 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," the family noted.

 

The statement concluded, "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."

 

Variety reports that his sister Jane said in a statement, "I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing."

 

Fonda was just 22 when he co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Easy Rider, the 1969 film that would define his career. Fonda starred in the movie along with Dennis Hopper -- who also co-wrote and directed the film -- and Jack Nicholson, who received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.  

 

Easy Rider and its rock 'n' roll soundtrack came to embody the counterculture, and marked a changing of the guard in Hollywood.  In 1998, the movie was added to the National Film Registry, having been deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

 

While Fonda continued to work steadily through the next five decades in both TV and film, Variety notes, "The astonishing career that some predicted for [him] in the wake of Easy Rider never came to pass."

 

Finally, in 1997, he received an Oscar nomination, for his role as a beekeeper in the movie Ulee's Gold -- ironically, he lost to his Easy Rider co-star Nicholson.

 

Fonda's filmography included a wide variety of films, from The Cannonball Run and Escape from L.A., to Thomas and the Magic Railroad and Wild Hogs, to 3:10 to Yuma and Ghost Rider.  On TV, he appeared in episodes of CSI: NY, The Blacklist, ER, Californication and the reboot of Hawaii Five-O.

 

It appears that Fonda's final role will be in an upcoming war drama called The Last Full Measure, which is due to hit theaters in October.

 

Fonda is survived by his daughter, actress Bridget Fonda; his son, Justin; and his third wife, whom he married in 2011.

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