Peter Fonda

August 17, 2019

All Posts, News, Obituaries

Peter Fonda

Peter Fonda, the Hollywood brat who grew up to co-write, produce and co-star in the widely revered biker movie Easy Rider 50years ago, died yesterday of lung cancer.

Easy Rider is simultaneously one of the most fondly remembered and worst movies of all time. It lent its name to the first real biker magazine.

The film was intended to be a cookie cutter biker film. Fonda and Dennis Hopper pitched the project to American International Pictures, which made more biker movies than any other studio, but American International turned them down. That year, that studio made Hells Angels 69 instead.

So, Fonda secured a distribution deal with Columbia Pictures and financed the film himself. It cost $400,000 which would be the equivalent of something more than $4 million today. As a result, the shooting scheduled was abbreviated and there was no money for a musical score. So, Fonda and Hopper, who directed, dropped popular songs into the film over long, time consuming, scenic shots.

The result, as New York Times film critic Vincent Canby put it, was a music video of men on motorcycles moving in “isolation, against the magnificent Southwestern landscapes of beige and green and pale blue. They roll down macadam highways that look like black velvet ribbons, under skies of incredible purity, and the soundtrack rocks with oddly counterpointed emotions of Steppenwolf, the Byrds, the Electric Prunes – dark and smoky cries for liberation.”

It was a very important movie in the summer of the Manson murders and Woodstock, in the year of Hamburger Hill. Hopper was named best director at the Cannes Film Festival. Jack Nicholson (who replaced Rip Torn in the role of liberal lawyer George Hanson after Hopper and Torn got into a knife fight) was named the year’s best supporting actor by the New York Film Critics Circle. The film was marketed as: “A man went looking for America. And couldn’t find it anywhere.”

It made $60 million.

The film is the story of two bikers named Wyatt and Billy (like Earp and The Kid – get it) who buy a couple of keys of cocaine in the Andes; fly it into Los Angeleez, like in the Arlo Guthrie song; sell it to Phil Spector in a parking lot at the end of a runway at LAX; and then, possibly because they don’t have bank accounts, they smuggle the cash to New Orleans in the gas tanks of their Panhead choppers.

Somewhere in New Mexico or Utah, it looks like, they meet a laconic hippie who invites them to his commune, hooks them up with hippie chicks, and gives them a tab of acid that is so potent that they must promise to consume it only if they first split it four ways.

They disrupt a patriotic parade They meet the liberal lawyer in jail and he tags along for awhile. When they get to New Orleans they go to a whorehouse (maybe they call it The Rising Sun) and split the acid with a couple of whores in a cemetery. Then they are murdered by rednecks. If the movie was remade today, the rednecks would be wearing MAGA hats.

In 1998 the prestigious American Film Institute named Easy Rider one of the one hundred greatest American movies ever.

Fonda is survived by his wife Margaret; his sister Jane; his daughter Bridget; his son Justin; his stepsons Thomas McGuane and Wills DeVogelaere; his stepdaughter, Lexi DeVogelaere; and ae grandson.
Peter Fonda was 79. According to his sister, he died laughing.

He is remembered fondly by millions.

Requiscat In Pace

Share

76 Responses to “Peter Fonda”

  1. Penguin Says:

    @ Sandman.

    Many thanks! I expect that my memories are muddled and the two men conflated. It had to be Ben I met ’cause it was his shop several times, motoring west on Central.

    Maybe it was Cliff Vaughs’ story – from an interview? Mustabeen. Maybe Cliff was there one and I heard it. Man this was a long time ago…

    Seems to me that race, and any other workable tactic, has always been used to suppress and fragment class solidarity, at least in much of modern industrial history, and that the alienation that results, as well as the alienating nature of industrial work, creates the ground for most working class clubs – motorcycle clubs and clubs of all sorts, some better than others, but all attempts at de-alienation.

    Glad to hear from somebody who knew, and also about the Chosen Few, which sound like a highly de-alienating club.

  2. Sandmann Says:

    @Penguin

    If the club affiliation of the man you met is true, then you might have met Mr Cliff Vaughs (RIP), who was a member of a club called Chosen Few MC which was founded in LA in 1959. That club has been an integrated club since 1960, accepting members of all races and creeds.

    I had the honor and pleasure to be their guest in Seattle and Las Vegas, and count one of their members from Long Beach among my acquaintances.

    The idea of integration is still very much alive in this club – in Seattle they had black, brown, Asian and Caucasian members in one chapter and all they got along just fine.

    The reality of “racial relations”, however, seems to indicate that nowadays, the general trend in the US seems to be more towards “emphasizing the differences” than “embracing the common ground”. I don’t live in the US, so my view might be tainted.

    I personally think it would be sad, if it were true.

    Respect to the deserving,
    Tom

  3. Penguin Says:

    The fella I met and chatted with was, I see from looking online for names, Ben Hardy. I was not able to find any evidence for the “white girlfriend” story, and since it’s been a very long time I am not quite sure it was directly from Ben. There are only fragments of a long interview online… It may have been in the longer interview, which I can’t find.

    I definitely recall it though – “integrated club” and “white girlfriend” and South, and so on.

    I freely concede that his story may have been partly wishful thinking become memory…but there musta been some bit of true.

    When we chatted I realized that his ideas about integration had “matured”, that is I believed he had gradually formed doubts about the desirability or practicality of the idea. I was not particularly welcomed.

    His doubts seem to have become, ah, more generally accepted these days.

    His shop was more or less empty when I stopped by – 1976 or so, a few times. Glad I met him though…

  4. JOHN T COKOS Says:

    Since when was Easy Rider ever a ” Biker ” movie ? It was more a Jack Kerouac ‘On The Road ” on two wheels.

  5. Cosmic Says:

    The stench of death is still the same regardless of politics…
    I didn’t know you,
    You didn’t know me.

  6. Penguin Says:

    Well, then he was tough enough to at least lie about it. He spoke about this not to me, (he might have said something, maybe, I don’t really remember the details) but in some interview I saw long ago. His claim, not mine. I myself was as far south as DC in 1963, and that was ‘nuf fer this white boy. However far south he got with the white girl, it musta not been very comfortable… He said he had naive ideas… He did. He was a nice fella, a gentleman, on the occasions we chatted. Of course, it goes without saying that nobody’s bullet-proof. What old man tells is often true, even when it’s inaccurate… However the attempt he made went, it shows his character as decent and good-hearted. I do not recall him as “black”, but lighter than that, and not very big, not that it matters. His ideas were absurd. Like those of Don Quixote.

  7. Sieg Says:

    Penguin, when ER was still about bikers, most of the sleds in it were built by their owners, kinda like the majority of sleds you saw everyday.

    As far as a Black being “tough enough to pack his white (sic)girlfriend through the South…”, man, no one is tougher than a bullet, and White scooter-trash had a rough row to hoe in Dixie in the 60’s and 70’s…with all due respect, there ain’t no way no how a nigro rode through there with a White woman.

    FTF/FTP
    TOSIAR

  8. Penguin Says:

    I heard somewhere that the ER scoots were built by a Negro gentleman. It’d be dishonest to say that I remember his name, but I believe I met him few of times. (anybody can look him up, and I think there are interviews).

    Long ago I rode past his shop on a daily basis to my really brutal job in an Iron Foundry. I was the only white guy on a payroll of about 110 guys…

    Anyway, one day I stopped in and chatted about parts, (I was riding a WLA in a softail configuration). I said “gentleman”, He was. After that I stopped by now and then to enjoy his stories, even though work was 80+ hours/wk.

    I think he was about to give it up, by then, as mostly he was helping the neighborhood kids with their bicycles, teaching them like gran’pa’s are ‘suposed to.

    That fella was, as a younger man, tough enough to pack his white girlfriend riding through the South… Wish I could remember his name. He rode with an integrated club back in the days.

    (I’ll look it up and write it one the wall)

    (Hey White Witch is a cool name anyway) “Penguin” is real, I got named that, about then and it fits, but I never use it anywhere but here, and for me LA might as well be on Mars.

    ………….

    Remember the scene in Casablanca where the fat french intel fag asks “Frenchy” what his “sympathies” are? And sly Frenchy declares “I am for France!”

    I am for America. The term “liberal” has lost any relationship with reality.
    One is either for his country and it’s people, his brothers and neighbors, or one is wrong. Obviously this means borders, sound industry and money, rational decisions based on reality, and so forth.

  9. Igo Says:

    I want to thank Ben for mentioning the book Peter Coyote wrote called “Sleeping Where I Fall.” I went right out and bought it, and it Gives an new slant on the movie, and Altamont. Great story so far (Haven’t finished it yet)and a good slice of the times. The movie was great eye candy, but anybody in the know would never mistake it for a real “Biker” movie (as an aside, I remember reading an interview with John Kay in Easyriders back in the day stating that “Born to be wild” was written about cars, not bikes….Another myth smashed)…….

  10. Johnny Rotten Says:

    hahah…

    yeah..

    i thought, and still think im just an upright honest fucker..
    i asked fer pics of a bike..
    i posted mine, all 4 of em..
    ride more than me in a month…
    hmmm..
    lets do some cypherin here…
    i do 20-25+ k per year on my wheels…
    and i split mine up between 4 shitbox shovelheads..
    2 more i just bought, but i gotta build em..
    so that means witchy rides…
    hang on , im on fingers and toes here…
    300k a year…
    gawd damn that mofo is puttin em down.

    im a nice guy..
    some folks on here have my number..
    we chat..
    some folks have my e mail..
    we correspond…
    oh well…
    like i said..
    i expected little..
    and got it.
    the name calling was a bonus.
    add hypocrite to the cdc..
    im not gonna reply anymore…
    i dont wanna be a troll..
    whatever the fuck that is..

    respects

    Johnny

  11. Neuro Says:

    I am hearing echoes of the Tommy Jr./ Hillbilly square-off. That one was interesting, and Tommy was really willing to meet to back up his talk. It was so interesting, I would have flown to DFW to witness, had they allowed me.

  12. Johnny Rotten Says:

    @witchypoo

    triggered much?

    your response was exactly as i expected….

    yer bestest pal ever

    Johnny

  13. white witch Says:

    @helipilot guy,

    My apologies that last post was for Johnny rotten
    I don’t really visit this site to argue with dipshits.
    Most of the people on here are respectful and able to debate/discuus a topic
    like a grown man but a few of you are just exhausting trolls that must lead miserable little lives and come on here to be tough talking disrespectful assholes.
    Johnny you are the one who wanted to start shit and now your panties are in a bind.
    If you can’t take it don’t dish it. Now you want to meet and fight about it.
    Go fuck yourself. I got to go back to work…. you keep trolling

    ride free
    white witch

  14. white witch Says:

    @ helipilot guy, I probably ride more miles in a month than you roll all year.
    You are the one who took it to a personal level. i have no desire to meet you partner.
    There are enough dumb fucks around here I don’t need to meet another.

    ride free
    white witch

  15. Johnny Rotten Says:

    @our cdc friend…

    you dont use your road name?
    most here do…
    why so clandestine?
    anyhoos…
    ill do this again,
    itll be the third time…
    id love to meet you..
    i know you roll, at least reside in florida…
    so, cmon..
    lets go eat some asphalt and get aquainted
    shall we…
    ive said it before, and ill reiterate..
    i got no problems with no body..
    you are relatively new around here, yet you seem awful quick to dispense advice..
    not that i even disagree with some of what you type..
    and i say type, because..
    hell…
    any twatwaffle can run a keyboard…
    i just wanna see if yer sand is as thick as you say..
    maybe youll see how smart of a motherfucker i am…

    respects pending….

    Johnny

  16. white witch Says:

    @ helipilot boy, man do you ever stop crying? I am not a liberal by the way.
    i believe in hardwork and responsibility. The responsibility part seems to elude you.
    Keep blaming people or liberals, or whomever for your fucking problems. So you can’t find anybody to work for you…..I am shocked.

    ride free
    white witch

  17. Desdicado Says:

    Hey Penguin, that was a kool reference…Rats rule.

  18. Desdicado Says:

    The real biker movie, The Wild Angels, outlaws on choppers,so cool. oh and by the at least the 70’s band White Witch was pretty kool….

  19. Mike T Says:

    Bikes were nice, Dennis Hopper was right when he was disgusted with the hippie fags …too many Vietnam Vets getting harrassed and spit on. Fuck the liberal hippies and the people who think anyone should be able to enter the US illegally. Soundtrack was good, didn’t turn me into Steppenwolf, bought the first album the month it came out.

    Everyone else ride and get your mind off all the bullshit in life that every idiot throws.

  20. white witch Says:

    @ johnny rotten,
    check out the brain on jonny, you a smart motherfucker jonny,
    white witch was a 70’s band. you don’t think i would use my real road name on here.
    i made that post from a friends computer and forgot to change the settings, but nice catch. now if you could post something that has to do with the topic.that would really show your smarts

    ride free
    white witch

  21. Penguin Says:

    Always though Fonda (JR) was a flake or a fake or anyway not anybody I found either interesting or significant.Hopper did a student biker short at UCLA filmschool with Maria Nxxxxx as the slutty chick. I recall a Triumph 650 and some sort of crash. Maybe 10 minutes.

    I have watched the short, at a birthday party for the slutty chick, when she tuned 70!

    Seems the genre was a focus for Hopper long before ER got even written. One is reminded of “Erik von Zipper comedy”…

    And yeah, it, ER, is a “deeply flawed” flick.

  22. Sandmann Says:

    @Dasein

    Yes, I am European, German to be precise. That has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make.

    My point is: The man uttered some bullshit. Regretted it because he (or his PR agent) realized it was “vulgar and inappropriate”, and took his words back.

    Or more simply put: He realized he was wrong and apologized.

    I don’t think actions like this require any political context whatsoever. It comes down to trying to be a decent human being – a value/trait/aspiration that should be international, regardless of the political/cultural context.

    I won’t and didn’t go into details about who he addressed this bullshit to because – as you said – I happen to be European, and I have a very distinct opinion about said person(s). But since the US and its politics is not my home turf, I’ll leave it at that.

    Respect to the deserving,
    Tom

  23. Mac Says:

    @ whitewhitch

    CDC

  24. Helipilotguy Says:

    @White witch. That’s how Fucking brain dead you left wing retards are. What part of illegal don’t you Fucking idiots understand !I could care less about someone’s race. What I care about is his legal status to not undercut my fellow Americans. You wnt to talk about them stealing shit from me? How about me running a business and trying to employ Americans but i have to compete with a guy paying shit wages to these ILLEGALS. Go Fuck yourself you pretentious count.

  25. Neuro Says:

    Oops, thanks Johnny. You are alert.

Leave a Reply