Peter Fonda, the actor who played the world’s most iconic bad boy biker role, has died.
Fonda played the role of motorcyclist many times over the years, ranging from B-movie schlock like Wild Angels to supporting roles in films like Wild Hogs.
However, his most famous role came as a biker in 1969’s Easy Rider. That tale of a doomed road trip on a chopper through the hippy communes and small towns of 1960s America, with co-stars Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper, cemented Fonda forever in public consciousness. It is no stretch to say that Easy Rider is the first work to come to mind when you ask someone to name a biker movie. Although the film is often decried as a drug-addled road trip story with no coherent plot, it nevertheless rang true for many at the time of its release, and still does today, fifty years later.
While the Easy Rider role might have been a job for Fonda, he was known in the 1960s for his lifestyle outside traditional Hollywood norms. Fonda spent time with counterculture icons like the Byrds and the Beatles, was arrested during the Sunset Strip riot, and was well-known for psychedelic drug usage.
Fonda had two Oscar nominations during his acting career, including Best Screenplay for Easy Rider. Easy Rider won the award for Best First Film at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. He won two Golden Globes. While he’s best-known for his biker roles, he played a very wide variety of characters over the years.
Fonda died Friday, aged 79, after respiratory failure due to lung cancer.