Discover Movies and TV Series that fit You with our Mobile Application
Download for iOS & Android
iOS ApplicationAndroid Application
Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1905-05-16

114 Movies · 5 TV Series

Biography

Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film and stage actor who had a career that spanned five decades in Hollywood. Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in several films now considered to be classics, earning one Academy Award for Best Actor on two nominations. Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor and made his Hollywood film debut in 1935. His film career began to gain momentum with roles such as Bette Davis's fiancée in her Academy Award-winning performance in Jezebel (1938), brother Frank in Jesse James (1939), and the future President in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), directed by John Ford. His early career peaked with his Academy Award-nominated performance as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, about an Oklahoma family who moved to California during the Dust Bowl 1930s. This film is widely considered to be among the greatest American films. In 1941 he starred opposite Barbara Stanwyck in the screwball comedy classic The Lady Eve. Book-ending his service in WWII were his starring roles in two highly regarded westerns: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) and My Darling Clementine (1946), the latter directed by John Ford, and he also starred in Ford's western Fort Apache (1948). After a seven-year break from films, during which Fonda focused on stage productions, he returned with the WWII war-boat ensemble Mister Roberts (1955). In 1956, at the age of fifty-one, he played the title role as the thirty-eight-year-old Manny Balestrero in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller The Wrong Man. In 1957 he starred as Juror No.8, the hold-out juror, in 12 Angry Men. Fonda, who was also the co-producer of this film, won the BAFTA award for Best Foreign Actor. Later in his career, Fonda moved into darker roles, such as the villain in the epic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), underrated and a box office disappointment at its time of release, but now regarded as one of the best westerns of all time. He also played in lighter-hearted fare such as Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball, but also often played important military figures, such as a colonel in Battle of the Bulge (1965), and Admiral Nimitz in Midway (1976). He won the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 54th Academy Awards for his final film role in On Golden Pond (1981), which also starred Katharine Hepburn and his daughter Jane Fonda, but was too ill to attend the ceremony. He died from heart disease a few months later. Fonda was the patriarch of a family of famous actors, including daughter Jane Fonda, son Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda, and grandson Troy Garity. His family and close friends called him "Hank". In 1999 he was named the sixth-Greatest Male Screen Legend of the Classic Hollywood Era (stars with a film debut by 1950) by the American Film Institute.

Personal Life

Marriages and children. Fonda was married five times and had three children, one of them adopted. His marriage to Margaret Sullavan in 1931 soon ended in separation, which was finalized in a 1933 divorce. In 1936 he married Frances Ford Seymour Brokaw, widow of a wealthy industrialist, George Tuttle Brokaw. The Brokaws had a daughter, Frances de Villiers, nicknamed "Pan", who had been born soon after the Brokaws marriage in 1931.Fonda met his future wife Frances at Denham Studios in England on the set of Wings of the Morning, the first British picture to be filmed in Technicolor. They had two children, Jane (born December 21, 1937) and Peter (February 23, 1940 - August 16, 2019), both of whom became successful actors. Jane has won two Best Actress Academy Awards, and Peter was nominated for two Oscars, one for Best Actor. In August 1949, Fonda announced to Frances that he wanted a divorce so he could remarry; their 13 years of marriage had not been happy ones for him. Devastated by Fonda's confession, and plagued by emotional problems for many years, Frances went into the Austen Riggs Psychiatric Hospital in January 1950 for treatment. She committed suicide there on April 14. Before her death, she had written six notes to various individuals, but left no final message for her husband. Fonda quickly arranged a private funeral with only himself and his mother-in-law, Sophie Seymour, in attendance. Years later, Dr. Margaret Gibson, the psychiatrist who had treated Frances at Austen Riggs, described Henry Fonda as "a cold, self-absorbed person, a complete narcissist."Later in 1950, Fonda married Susan Blanchard, his mistress. She was 21 years old, the daughter of Australian-born interior designer Dorothy Hammerstein, and the step-daughter of Oscar Hammerstein II. Together, they adopted a daughter, Amy Fishman (born 1953). They divorced three years later. Blanchard was in awe of Fonda, and she described her role in the marriage as "a geisha", doing everything she could to please him, dealing with and solving problems he would not acknowledge.In 1957 Fonda married the Italian baroness Afdera Franchetti. They divorced in 1961. Soon after, in 1965, Fonda married Shirlee Mae Adams (born in 1932), and remained with her until his death in 1982. Fonda's relationship with his children has been described as "emotionally distant". Fonda loathed displays of feeling in himself or others, and this was a consistent part of his character. Whenever he felt that his emotional wall was being breached, he had outbursts of anger, exhibiting a furious temper that terrified his family. In Peter Fonda's 1998 autobiography Don't Tell Dad (1998), he described how he was never sure how his father felt about him. He never volunteered to his father that he loved him until he was elderly, and Peter finally heard, "I love you, son." His daughter Jane rejected her father's friendships with Republican actors such as John Wayne and James Stewart. Their relationship became extremely strained as Jane Fonda became a left-wing activist. Jane Fonda reported feeling detached from her father, especially during her early acting days. In 1958 she met Lee Strasberg while visiting her father at Malibu. The Fonda and Strasberg families were neighbors, and she had developed a friendship with Strasberg's daughter, Susan. Jane Fonda began studying acting with Strasberg, learning the techniques of "The Method" of which Strasberg was a renowned proponent. This proved to be a pivotal point in her career. As Jane Fonda developed her skill as an actress, she became frustrated with her father's talent that, to her, appeared a demonstration of effortless ability. Politics. Fonda was an ardent supporter of the Democratic Party and "an admirer" of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1960 Fonda appeared in a campaign commercial for presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. The ad focused on Kennedy's naval service during World War II, specifically the famous PT-109 incident. On acting. In the late 1950s, when Jane Fonda asked her father how he prepared before going on stage, she was baffled by his answer, "I don't know, I stand there, I think about my wife, Afdera, I don't know." The writer Al Aronowitz, while working on a profile of Jane Fonda for The Saturday Evening Post in the 1960s, asked Henry Fonda about method acting: "I can't articulate about the Method", he told me, "because I never studied it. I don't mean to suggest that I have any feelings one way or the other about it...I don't know what the Method is and I don't care what the Method is. Everybody's got a method. Everybody can't articulate about their method, and I can't, if I have a method—and Jane sometimes says that I use the Method, that is, the capital letter Method, without being aware of it. Maybe I do; it doesn't matter."Aronowitz reported Jane saying, "My father can't articulate the way he works. He just can't do it. He's not even conscious of what he does, and it made him nervous for me to try to articulate what I was trying to do. And I sensed that immediately, so we did very little talking about it...he said, 'Shut up, I don't want to hear about it.' He didn't want me to tell him about it, you know. He wanted to make fun of it."

Early Life

Born in Grand Island, Nebraska on May 16, 1905, Henry Jaynes Fonda was the son of printer William Brace Fonda, and his wife, Herberta (Jaynes). The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 1906.Fonda's patriline originates with an ancestor from Genoa, Italy, who migrated to the Netherlands in the 15th century. In 1642, a branch of the Fonda family immigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherland on the East Coast of North America. They were among the first Dutch population to settle in what is now upstate New York, establishing the town of Fonda, New York. By 1888, many of their descendants had relocated to Nebraska.Fonda was brought up as a Christian Scientist, though he was baptized an Episcopalian at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Grand Island. He said, "My whole damn family was nice." They were a close family and highly supportive, especially in health matters, as they avoided doctors due to their religion. Despite having a religious background, he later became an agnostic. Fonda was a bashful, short boy who tended to avoid girls, except his sisters, and was a good skater, swimmer, and runner. He worked part-time in his father's print plant and imagined a possible career as a journalist. Later, he worked after school for the phone company. He also enjoyed drawing. Fonda was active in the Boy Scouts of America; Teichmann reports that he reached the rank of Eagle Scout. However, this is denied elsewhere. When he was about 14, his father took him to observe the brutal lynching of Will Brown during the Omaha race riot of 1919. This enraged the young Fonda and he kept a keen awareness of prejudice for the rest of his life. By his senior year in high school, Fonda had grown to more than six feet (1.8m) tall, but remained shy. He attended the University of Minnesota, where he majored in journalism, but he did not graduate. While at Minnesota he was a member of Chi Delta Xi fraternity, a local chapter at 1110 5th Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, which later became Chi Phi's Gamma Delta chapter on that campus. He took a job with the Retail Credit Company.

Movies & TV Series

Last updated: