How can youÂ achieveÂ and succeed on your own,Â growing up theÂ childÂ of oneÂ of America’sÂ most admiredÂ personalities? Peter Fonda, the only son of the late great actor Henry Fonda,Â saysÂ that’s something he’sÂ facedÂ sinceÂ the age ofÂ 4, when people who were total strangers began “laying an identity” on him as Henry Fonda’s son.
“My gift was what I learned from my father, without talking,” Fonda, 71,Â recalled in DallasÂ Friday night. “My goal was to be myself, not Henry’s son.” The younger Fonda arguably has accomplished that over the years, becoming a counterculture icon for his role in flicks like Easy Rider (1969) and earning an Oscar nomination for his star turnÂ in 1997’s Ulee’s Gold.
When he went up against his old Easy Rider pal Jack Nicholson for the Best Actor nod that year, Fonda said, he learnedÂ a couple ofÂ things. All the Vegas oddsmakers were putting their money on Nicholson to win–correctly, as it turned out. And,Â he discovered there were at least 17 other people in the country with the name Peter Fonda.
He laughed out loud at the thought, recalling his own struggle to forgeÂ a distinctÂ identity. “What were those parents thinking?!”Â he said increduously.Â Fonda (photo by Jeanne Prejean)Â was in townÂ as an awards-presenterÂ forÂ Friday’s Dallas Film Society Honors, part of the Dallas International Film Festival.