Edit
Henry Fonda Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (5) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (59) | Personal Quotes (21) | Salary (4)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 16 May 1905Grand Island, Nebraska, USA
Date of Death 12 August 1982Los Angeles, California, USA  (cardiorespiratory arrest)
Birth NameHenry Jaynes Fonda
Nicknames One-Take Fonda
Hank
Height 6' 1½" (1.87 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, Henry Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater troupe directed by Dorothy Brando. He moved to the Cape Cod University Players and later Broadway, New York to expand his theatrical career from 1926 to 1934. His first major roles in Broadway include "New Faces of America" and "The Farmer Takes a Wife". The latter play was transferred to the screen in 1935 and became the start-up of Fonda's lifelong Hollywood career. The following year he married Frances Seymour Fonda with whom he had two children: Jane and Peter Fonda also to become screen stars. He is most remembered for his roles as Abe Lincoln in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), for which he received an Academy Award Nomination, and more recently, Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond (1981), for which he received an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1982. Henry Fonda is considered one of Hollywood's old-time legends and was friend and contemporary of James Stewart, John Ford and Joshua Logan. His movie career which spanned almost 50 years is completed by a notable presence in American theater and television.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Laurence Dang <laurence_dang@yahoo.com>

Spouse (5)

Shirlee Fonda (3 December 1965 - 12 August 1982) (his death)
Afdera Franchetti (9 March 1957 - 7 January 1961) (divorced)
Susan Blanchard (28 December 1950 - 2 May 1956) (divorced) (1 child)
Frances Seymour Brokaw (16 September 1936 - 14 April 1950) (her death) (2 children)
Margaret Sullavan (25 December 1931 - 14 March 1933) (divorced)

Trade Mark (3)

Noticeable for his "cat-like" walk, especially in westerns: moving at a slow but clock- like tempo, throwing forward one foot at time, while letting the arms dangle loosely at his sides.
Bright blue eyes
Often played strong, defensive, heroic characters that were always seeking peace and justice.

Trivia (59)

Ranked #95 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Studied acting with Dorothy Brando, mother of Marlon Brando.
Earned the rank of Life Scout and became a scout master as an adult.
Father of Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda from his marriage to Frances Brokaw. Adoptive father of Frances de Villers Brokaw (born 1931) and Amy Fishman (born 1953) from his marriage to Susan Blanchard.

Grandfather of Bridget Fonda, Justin Fonda, Vanessa Vadim and Troy Garity.

Ex-father-in-law of Roger Vadim and Tom Hayden.
During a Barbara Walters interview, Jane Fonda claimed that her father was deeply in love with Lucille Ball and that the two were "very close" during the filming of Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).
Hobby was making model airplanes and kites.
His distant ancestors came from Genoa, Italy, and fled to the Netherlands around 1400. Among the early Dutch settlers in America, they established a still-thriving small town in upstate New York named Fonda in the early 1600s, named after patriarch Douw Fonda, who was later killed by Indians. He also had English, Scottish, and more distant Norwegian, ancestry. His paternal grandparents moved to Nebraska in the 1800s.
At 76, he was the oldest person to win a best actor Oscar.
He periodically returned to the legitimate stage throughout his career (Mister Roberts, Critic's Choice and First Monday in October), but missed out on the chance to create the role of George in the original Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. His agent rejected the script out of hand, without consulting him. The agent gave as his reason the assertion that, "You don't want to be in a play about four people yelling at each other all the time." Fonda, who was an admirer of playwright Edward Albee's talents, was furious. It didn't help matters when old friends like James Stewart and his wife Gloria Stewart, or even his own daughter Jane, told him that they saw the play in New York and couldn't picture anyone but Fonda in the lead. Finally seeing the show himself, Fonda was duly impressed by Arthur Hill's performance in the role, and conceded that he couldn't have played the part any better.
Was known as a ladies' man in Hollywood, having been involved in affairs with many actresses.
In spite of his kind, heroic, honest screen persona, he was often described as being cold, aloof and frequently angry off-screen.
A friendship and collaboration of nearly 20 years was ended when director John Ford sucker-punched him while making Mister Roberts (1955).
The Fonda family was acquainted with Marlon Brando's family, as they both lived in Omaha, Nebraska and Henry appeared with Marlon's mother Dorothy in community theater. In fact, the Brando family, on a trip to Southern California in the late 1930s, visited Henry on a movie set. The two very different actors never knew each other socially because Fonda was much older. In fact, when the teen-aged Brando started out as an actor, he did so in the shadow of Fonda, who was the most famous person from Omaha at that point. Brando did tell a story about how he had to fire a housekeeper after he found out that she was allowing tourists to come into his home to look around the digs of a star, for a fee. Soon after, Henry called him to check up on the credentials of a woman applying for the job of housekeeper at his home. It was the same woman that Brando had fired. He enthusiastically recommended her to his mother's former acting protégé, without telling him of her unauthorized tours.
Was twice a roommate and a very close friend of James Stewart. They met and shared a room when the two were both struggling young actors in the early 1930s. Fonda went to Hollywood shortly before Stewart. When Stewart arrived he shared Fonda's home, where they both gained reputations as ladies' men. After both married and had kids, the more mellow buddies still hung out, usually spending time building model airplanes.
He was voted the 29th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Though a Democrat for most of his life, Fonda was once a registered Republican, according to his son Peter Fonda in his autobiography Don't Tell Dad: A Memoir (1999). Peter believes that Henry's liberalism caused him to be gray-listed during the early 1950s, when he experienced a six-year layoff from films.
Won Broadway's 1948 Tony Award as best dramatic actor for the title role in "Mister Roberts" and award shared with Paul Kelly for "Command Decision: and Basil Rathbone for "The Heiress." He also won a second special Tony in 1979, and was additionally nominated for Broadway's 1975 Tony Award as best dramatic actor for "Clarence Darrow".
He was voted the 10th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
Named the #6 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends by the American Film Institute
Pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued in his honor on 20 May 2005.
One of his hobbies was bee keeping. This was one of many traits that his son, Peter Fonda, incorporated into his performance in Ulee's Gold (1997), a performance Peter says he based on his father.
He and his daughter Jane Fonda were the first father-daughter couple to be Oscar-nominated the same year (1982).
Of the Oscar-winning father-daughter couples, he and daughter Jane are the one of two pairs where the daughter won an Academy award before the father did. The other pair is Hayley Mills and John Mills. Hayley's 1960 honorary Oscar was given to her for the best juvenile performance in Pollyanna (1960). Her father John became very popular with the denizens of Hollywood when the Mills family resided there while Hayley made films for Walt Disney. He won a supporting actor Oscar in 1971 for his role as the village idiot in David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970).
Named Father of The Year 1963 by the Father's Day/Mother's Day Council, Inc.
His performance as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is ranked #51 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Fonda, who played the second Commander in Chief-Pacific (CINCPAC II) in In Harm's Way (1965), was actually a naval veteran of World War II who served in the Pacific Theater. After making The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), Fonda enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II, saying, "I don't want to be in a fake war in a studio." He served in the Navy for three years, initially as a Quartermaster 3rd Class on the destroyer USS Satterlee; later, Fonda was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2) in Air Combat Intelligence. For his service in the Central Pacific, he won the Bronze Star, the fourth highest award for bravery or meritorious service in conflict with the enemy.
On April 12, 1967, he visited the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk for an overnight stay in preparation for his role in Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).
Three films of his are on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. They are: On Golden Pond (1981) at #45, 12 Angry Men (1957) at #42, and The Grapes of Wrath (1940) at #7.
Formed a partnership with actors Robert Ryan and Martha Scott in 1968, co-founding the theatrical production company Plumstead Playhouse in New York. Later called the Plumstead Theatre Society, it co-produced the Broadway production of First Monday in October, starring Fonda and Jane Alexander.
The birth of his daughter Jane Fonda was the cause of some interruptions during his filming of Jezebel (1938) with Bette Davis.
Separated from third wife Margaret Sullavan after only two months of marriage, however the formal divorce proceedings took longer than the time they were living together as husband and wife, with the final divorce decree not being finalized until an additional thirteen months after separation.
Nearly fell out with his close friend James Stewart in an argument over blacklisting in the spring of 1947. It happened shortly after Fonda joined Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and John Huston in signing an open letter to the House Unamerican Activities Committee, suggesting it end its investigations of Communism involvement in the film industry. According to Stewart, the argument was "long and pretty heated" and ended only when the two men realized they were jeopardizing so many years of friendship. Soon afterward, Fonda moved to New York, not returning to Hollywood until 1955. Although part of the reason for his extended stay in the East was his starring role in Mister Roberts on Broadway, he also confided to friends that he couldn't tolerate the political climate in Southern California during those years. Jane Fonda admits she never got her father to say exactly what was said during the argument with Stewart. "I know it was definitely about the House Unamerican Activities Committee and what became known as McCarthyism later on," she recalled. "And it's true that their friendship really almost ended over that. That was why, after they had cooled down, they decided they would never again talk politics when they were together. But since they were agreeing to be so close-mouthed with one another, they were hardly going to start opening up to other people.".
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 284-287. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Was good friends with John Wayne from the time they were part of the director John Ford's stock company. Henry's son, Peter Fonda, in his autobiography, said that Henry had some trouble with the Duke and fellow Ford film co-star Ward Bond over politics, as the two were definitely to his father's right. Peter said that the Duke and Bond were wonderful with him and very warm, in contrast to his father, who was rather cold. Henry would drift away from the Ford stock company, and his relationship with the great director would end on the set of Mister Roberts (1955) when he objected to Ford's direction of the film. Ford punched Fonda and had to be replaced.
1982: Was unable to be present at the 1982 Academy Awards ceremony to accept his best actor Oscar for On Golden Pond (1981). His award was accepted on his behalf by his daughter Jane Fonda.
He was one of the most active, and most vocal, liberal Democrats in Hollywood along with Robert Ryan and Gregory Peck. He once said that President Ronald Reagan made him "physically ill", and that he "couldn't stomach any of the Republicans, most of all Richard Nixon.".
Contrary to popular belief, Fonda did approve of his daughter Jane's anti-war activism during Vietnam and at AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Henry Fonda (1978) told her critics to "shut up", because "she's perfect".
Ranked #6 as AFI's top male screen legends.
Son of William Brace Fonda and Herberta Jaynes Fonda.
Considered for the leading role of "Ladri di biciclette" (1948).
He was a founding member of the Hollywood Democratic Committee during the 1930s, formed in support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal agenda.
Fonda told his third wife Susan Blanchard to stay away from Ward Bond, whose ultra-conservative views and active support for McCarthyism he despised.
He returned to Broadway in 1974 for the biographical drama Clarence Darrow for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Fonda's health had been deteriorating for years, but his first outward symptoms occurred after an April 1974 performance when he collapsed from exhaustion. After the appearance of a heart arrhythmia brought on by prostate cancer, a pacemaker was installed and Fonda returned to the play in the following year. After the run of the 1978 play First Monday of October, he took the advice of his doctors and quit the rigors of live stage, though he continued to star in films and on television.
Appeared in three movies based exclusively on World War II battles, The Longest Day (1962), Battle of the Bulge (1965) and Midway (1976), and also appeared in a more fictional representation of the Pearl Harbor attack and early South Pacific campaign, In Harm's Way (1965), in the same role he would portray in "Midway," Admiral Chester Nimitz (referred to as CINCPAC II in "In Harm's Way").
Currenty holds the record for the longest gap between acting Oscar nominations. His first nomination was for The The Grapes of Wrath (1940) in 1940, his second was for On Golden Pond (1981) in 1981, 41 years later. He received one other Oscar nomination in the period between his two acting nominations, that was for producer of 12 Angry Men (1957) in 1957.
With the exception of a $200,000 bequest to daughter Amy, he left his entire estate to his 5th wife Shirlee Adams.
He was a close friend of actor Ross Alexander from the time they first worked together on Broadway.
He left a clause in his will requesting that there be no funeral or memorial service.
Was a first-hand witness to the Omaha race riots of 1919 and lynching of Will Brown.
Won a 1979 Special Tony Award.
Played a man wrongly accused of a crime four times: You Only Live Once (1937), Let Us Live (1939), The Wrong Man (1956), and Gideon's Trumpet (1980).
He was a big fan of All in the Family (1971) and had the privilege of hosting "The Best of All in the Family, which looked back at the best moments from the first 100 episodes of the show.
Fonda admits he was initially attracted to acting because it helped him "to get behind a mask.".
Fonda did preliminary work on a picture to be called "Clown" about the life of Emmet Kelly, but script problems caused it to fall through.
Although he received great acclaim for both his acting and producing "Twelve Angry Men," Fonda, who was working on a percentage of the profits for his compensation as both actor and producer, ultimately received nothing for acting or producing, because the film just broke even.
Fonda's first Broadway role was a small one in "A Game of Love and Death" with Alice Brady, Claude Rains, and Otto Kruger.
Fonda was a member of the University Players, a group of young actors located in Falmouth near Provincetown. Other members included Joshua Logan, Kent Smith, Myron McCormick, Bretaigne Windust, Charles Arnt, Mildred Natwick, James Stewart, Barbara O'Neill, and future wife Magaret Sullavan. They stayed together for four years.
Fonda was considered the most talented of all the Hollywood celebrities who painted in oils, mostly still lifes. He was offered considerable sums on many occasions for his paintings but preferred to give them away to friends.
He played unnamed US Presidents in two films which featured end of the world scenarios: Fail-Safe (1964) and Meteor (1979).

Personal Quotes (21)

I don't want to just sell war bonds. I want to be a sailor.
I hope you won't be disappointed. You see I am not a very interesting person. I haven't ever done anything except be other people. I ain't really Henry Fonda! Nobody could be. Nobody could have that much integrity.
I'm not that pristine pure, I guess I've broken as many rules as the next feller. But I reckon my face looks honest enough and if people buy it, Hallelujah.
Baby it out. That's an old marble shooter's expression for approaching your target cautiosly instead of trying to take it out with one shot.
[about director Sergio Leone] Next to Clint Eastwood's father, he personally had done more for 'Clint Eastwood' than anyone else."
aking in 1978] I guess I go overboard to avoid taking credit for the image I have. That's why it's easier to live with myself. I don't feel I'm totally a man of integrity.
If there is something in my eyes, a kind of honesty in the face, then I guess you could say that's the man I'd like to be, the man I want to be.
I look like my father. To this day, when I walk past a mirror and see my reflection in it, my first impression is: That's my father. There is a strong Fonda look.
[on Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda, 1976] "I didn't help or discourage them or lead them by the hand. I'm not trying to set myself up as a good father, because I wasn't a good father. But I think I knew instinctively that if they did make it, they would like to know they'd done it on their own. I recognise all the problems my children have had, and I don't claim any credit for what they've become. They've become what they are in spite of me."
I can't articulate about the Method 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.
I've been close to Bette Davis for thirty-eight years - and I have the cigarette burns to prove it.
[on director John Ford] It has to do with the fact that Ford, for all his greatness, is an Irish egomaniac, as anyone who knows him will say.
I don't want to be in a fake war in a studio.
[on John Ford] He had instinctively a beautiful eye for the camera. But he was also an egomaniac.
[on John Ford] He was so egomaniacal. He would never rehearse, didn't want to talk about a part. If an actor started to ask questions he'd either take those pages and tear them out of the script or insult him in an awful way. He loved getting his shot on the first take, which for him meant it was fresh. He would print the first take -- even if it wasn't any good.
[on War and Peace (1956) and referring to author of book Leo Tolstoy] When I first agreed to do it, the screenplay by Irwin Shaw was fine, but what happened? King Vidor used to go home nights with his wife and rewrite it. All the genius of Tolstoy went out the window.
Money must be, I guess, what first took me to Hollywood. When I first came out, I certainly had NO ambition to make pictures.
I don't really like myself. Never did. People mix me up with the characters I play. I'm not a great guy like Doug Roberts [in 'Mister Roberts']. I'd like to be but I'm not.
[on stage acting] Anyone who gives the same performance he gave on opening night is not doing a good job. Unless a performance is growing constantly, unless the actor is finding new insights into the character, he must grow stale.
[on the producers of "War and Peace"] Their idea of Pierre was that he look as much like Rock Hudson as possible.
[on Marlon Brando] I don't think there's anybody better when he wants to be good.

Salary (4)

Fort Apache (1948) $110,000
The Longest Day (1962) $30,000
Sex and the Single Girl (1964) $100,000
Roots: The Next Generations (1979) $250,000

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page