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Henry Fonda Overview:

Legendary actor, Henry Fonda, was born Henry Jaynes Fonda on May 16, 1905 in Grand Island, NE. Fonda appeared in over 110 film and TV roles. His best known films include Jezebel, Jesse James, Young Mr. Lincoln, Drums Along the Mohawk, The Grapes of Wrath, The Lady Eve, The Male Animal, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, Mister Roberts, 12 Angry Men, How the West Was Won, Once Upon a Time in the West and On Golden Pond. Fonda died at the age of 77 on Aug 12, 1982 in Los Angeles, CA and was cremated and his ashes scattered in unknown location.

EARLY YEARS:

Patriarch of the Fonda family acting dynasty, Henry Fonda is one of America's most accomplished actors with a career spanning five decades. Fonda was born on May 16th, 1905 in Grand Island, Nebraska. Despite his short stature and gentle nature, Fonda proved to have a talent for athletics, participating in skating, swimming and running. He blossomed in high school, growing past six feet tall, but remained as shy as he had in childhood. When Fonda was 14, his father took him to observe the lynching of a black man accused of rape. This experience would affect him for the rest of his life, creating a strong awareness of prejudice, and shaping his political views from that day on. He briefly attended the University of Minnesota where he studied to become a journalist but he would not graduate.

EARLY CAREER / JAMES STEWART FRIENDSHIP:

Upon returning home, Fonda decided to take up acting. His first amateur gig was for the Omaha Community Playhouse, often acting along Dodie Brando (mother of Marlon Brando). He grew to appreciate acting as an escape from his own shy, awkward personality, favoring the idea of creating a new character for the world to behold instead of his own. In 1928, he headed east to further pursue his dream. His first professional acting job came from the Cape Playhouse. Soon he was introduced to the University Players, an intercollegiate summer stock company. While there, he met his future wife Margaret Sullivan and began a life-long friendship with James Stewart. In 1929 Fonda moved to New York City, soon followed by Stewart where the two became roommates, aiding each other in bettering their craft. Fonda's first Broadway appearance was 1929's The Game of Death. However, with the Great Depression in full swing, Fonda found himself out of a job more than he was with one. When not acting, Fonda would also work as set designer to make ends meet. In 1933, following a divorce from his first wife, Margaret Sullivan, he starred in the play The Farmer Takes a Wife. 20th Century Fox was quick to buy the rights and soon, Fonda was off to Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD / JOHN FORD:

The film adaption of Farmer Takes a Wife hit theaters across America in 1935 and with it came Hollywood's newest leading man. Fonda was then loaned out for RKO's I Dream Too Much. Critics praised him as the one of the most likable romantic leads to be newly recruited to tinsel town. In 1936 he starred opposite Fred MacMurray in The Trail of the Lonesome, the first Technicolor production filmed in the great outdoors. He re-teamed with Sullivan for The Moon's Our Home and briefly rekindled their old relationship. Fonda's shining star got brighter as he starred in the 1937 Fritz Lang film You Only Live Once. The next year Fonda would star opposite Bette Davis in the massively popular Jezebel. The film was popular with both critics and audiences alike, becoming one of biggest hits of the year and receiving seven academy award nominations. His next film, 1939's Young Mr. Lincoln, marked Fonda's first of many collaborations with director John Ford. That same year the two released Drums Along the Mohawk, a much larger commercial triumph than their first collaboration. However, a much larger triumph was just around the corner.

GRAPES OF WRATH / WORLD WAR II EFFORTS:

In1940, Fonda once again re-teamed with John Ford for the film adaption of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Although the part of Tom Joad has since become his signature role, and Steinbeck himself supported Fonda as the films lead, Producer Darryl Zanuck originally saw Tyrone Power as the wistful migrant farm worker. It was when Fonda signed a seven-year contract that Zanuck agreed to the casting. The film was a hit and Fonda received the best reviews of his life, ultimately being nominated for his first Academy Award. Fonda's adaptability and professionalism allowed him to star in a plethora of projects during the 1940's. He showed his softer, more comical side opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve and in 1942's Rings on Her fingers. In 1943, he starred in the western-physiological drama, The Ox-Bow Incident.

As the U.S committed itself to the allied powers during World War II, Fonda enlisted in the Navy, stating, “I don't want to be in a fake war in a studio.” He served for three years, first on a destroyer ship before being commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in Air Combat Intelligence. For his duty, he was awarded the Navy Presidential Unit Citation and the Bronze Star. Upon his return to Hollywood, Fonda teamed with John Ford once more to star as Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine. The film is still hailed as one of the best filmic interpretations of the famed Gunfight at the OK Corral. In 1948, he played his first truly unsympathetic character in Fort Apache opposite John Wayne and Shirley Temple (in her role as an adult). His final film under contact for 20th Century Fox was Otto Preminger's Daisy Kenyon.

POST-CONTRACT:

After being released from his contract, Fonda found work scarce in Hollywood and opted to return to Broadway. In 1955, he returned to Hollywood for the screen adaption of Mister Roberts, reprising his Tony Award Winning Broadway role. The film was a huge success and Hollywood was once again inundating Fonda with offers. In 1956 he starred opposite Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer in the big screen adaption of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. In 1957, he starred in the Alfred Hitchcock semi-documentary narrative The Wrong Man. In 1957, Fonda wore the hats of both actor and producer for the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men. He was nominated for his second Oscar, but this time as producer rather than actor.

During the late 1950's and early 1960's, Fonda trekked between coasts, alternating between Broadway and Hollywood. On the Hollywood side of the equation, Fonda starred mostly in war and western epics. In 1962, both The Longest Day and How The West Was Won were released to critical and commercial success. In 1964, Fonda starred as the President of the United Stated in Fail Safe, a cold war drama about the dangers nuclear war. In 1968, Fonda played Frank in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. At first Fonda turned down the role as the cold-blooded killer, feeling that the part was too against type, but he was convinced into accepting it by Leone who flew from Italy to Hollywood to personally persuade him.

LATER YEARS:

In 1970, he teamed with old friend James Stewart to star in The Cheyenne Social Club. The next year, he returned to television for the police drama, Smith. In 1973, he earned an Emmy nomination for his work in the television movie, The Red Pony. He returned to Broadway in 1974 for the biographical drama, Clarence Darrow, and in turn was nominated for a Tony Award. After a health scare, he retired from the exhausting world of the stage but remained active in film and television, including appearing in the mini-series Roots: The Next Generation. Fonda's final project was 1981's On Golden Pond opposite Katharine Hepburn and his daughter, Jane Fonda. In the film, Fonda played an aged college professor coming to terms with both his age and dying while trying to reconnect with his daughter. For his final performance, Fonda received a long-over-do Academy Award for Best Actor. Just a few months later, on August 12th, 1982, Henry Fonda died in his Los Angeles home of heart disease. He was 77 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).

HONORS and AWARDS:

.

Henry Fonda was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning one for Best Actor for On Golden Pond in 1981. He also won one Honorary Award in 1980 , the consummate actor, in recognition of his brilliant accomplishments and enduring contribution to the art of motion pictures .

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1940Best ActorThe Grapes of Wrath (1940)Tom JoadNominated
1957Best Picture12 Angry Men (1957)N/ANominated
1981Best ActorOn Golden Pond (1981)N/AWon

Academy Awards (Honorary Oscars)

YearAwardDescription
1980Honorary Award, the consummate actor, in recognition of his brilliant accomplishments and enduring contribution to the art of motion pictures

.

He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Henry Fonda's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #66 on Jul 24, 1942. In addition, Fonda was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and was immortalized on a US postal stamp in 2005.

BlogHub Articles:

Book Review--Hank & Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of and James Stewart

By KC on Nov 3, 2017 From Classic Movies

Hank & Jim: The Fifty Year Friendship of and James Stewart Scott Eyman Simon & Schuster, 2017 What you learn is never what’s said. It’s what’s done. -Jane Fonda I’ve always felt that platonic relationships don’t get enough attention from biographe... Read full article


Warner Archive Blu-ray: and Glenn Ford Charm in The Rounders (1965)

By KC on Jun 6, 2017 From Classic Movies

Glenn Ford and star as a pair of bronco riders who have gone soft in the brains, but still have hopes of making their fortune in the modern Western, The Rounders (1965), now available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive. Ford and Fonda are Ben Jones and Howdy Lewis. They make their living br... Read full article


Screenshots of the Week: Barbara Bel Geddes and in The Long Night (1947)

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By Greg Orypeck on Apr 30, 2015 From Classic Film Freak

Share This! “If there was a law they was workin’ with, maybe we could take it, but it ain’t the law.  They’re workin’ away our spirits, tryin’ to make us cringe and crawl, takin’ away our decency.” —— Tom Joad () A man walks along an empty Oklahoma highway.  The black-and-white screen is ... Read full article


The Grapes of Wrath (1940) with

By Greg Orypeck on Apr 30, 2015 From Classic Film Freak

Share This! “If there was a law they was workin’ with, maybe we could take it, but it ain’t the law.  They’re workin’ away our spirits, tryin’ to make us cringe and crawl, takin’ away our decency.” —— Tom Joad () A man walks along an empty Oklahoma highway.  The black-and-white screen is ... Read full article


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Henry Fonda Quotes:

Mayor Will Blue: What can we do for you?
Brown, Territorial Governor's Rep.: It's the other way around. The name's Brown... from the Governor's office. Every time somebody puts a little capital into this territory, I'm called into the office and sent on my way. It don't make no difference that I suffer from rheumatism or that I'm past the age to ride a mule's back. A man who files a claim that yields, it's a town. If he finds grass, it's a town. If he digs a well, it's a town. And I have to charter them all. If the claim pitches out, the grass dies, the well dries out, everybody rides off to form up again. New territory for me to travel. Nobody fixes in this country. Everybody is blowing around with the wind. You can't bring law to a bunch of rocks. You can't make a society out of sand. Sometimes, I think we're worse than the Indians. What's the name of this town?
Mayor Will Blue: Hard Times.


Melsa Manton: [to her friends] Get him, girls!
Peter Ames: [Nervously, then desparately as the girls engulf and subdue him] Hey, wait a minute, girls...
[clicks the phone]
Peter Ames: Tahe it easy, girls... look... Hello... Help, I tho... wha... ahh!...


Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: As best I can figure it, we're on the wrong beach. The control boat must have been confused by the smoke from the naval bombardment. They landed us about a mile and a quarter south of where we were supposed to land. We should be up there.
Col. Caffey: I agree with you, but what are we gonna do now? Our reinforcements and heavy equipment will be approaching in a very few minutes. What happens if they land at the right beach?
Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: The reinforcements will have to follow us wherever we are. We're starting the war from right here. Head inland. We're going inland.


read more quotes from Henry Fonda...



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Henry Fonda Facts
Was known as a ladies' man in Hollywood, having been involved in affairs with many actresses.

Pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued in his honor on 20 May 2005.

Ranked #95 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]

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