Peter Fonda, the actor who defined the role of rebellious biker on film for an entire generation, has died.
Fonda had a long acting career and came from a family of famous actors, but was best-known for his role in the 1969 bikesploitation hit Easy Rider. Fonda played a stunt rider who pulled off a lucrative drug deal. He and his riding partner (played by Dennis Hopper) took the proceeds and rode across a US caught in the midst of counter-cultural revolution, on cinema’s most famous doomed road trip.
While the film hasn’t necessarily endeared itself to motorcyclists over the long term, it won prestigious awards like Cannes’ Best First Film at the time of its release. In the 50 years since, reviews have been mixed, but it remains the iconic biker movie for many fans Read Mark’s commentary on its story and backstory here. Read Mark’s commentary on its story and remarkable back story here.
It wasn’t Fonda’s only role as a biker; he played others over the years. Perhaps his most notable other motorcycle role was in Wild Angels, another ’60s bikesploitation classic.
Fonda earned two Oscar nominations during his acting career. He died today, aged 79, after suffering from lung cancer.