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Celebrities

Peter Fonda: The Son Also Rises

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Peter Fonda
Peter Fonda

How can you achieve  and succeed on your own,  growing up the child of one of America’s most admired personalities? Peter Fonda, the only son of the late great actor Henry Fonda, says that’s something he’s faced since the age of 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, recalled in Dallas 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 turn 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 learned a couple of things. All the Vegas oddsmakers were putting their money on Nicholson to win–correctly, as it turned out. And, 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 forge a distinct identity. “What were those parents thinking?!” he said increduously. Fonda (photo by Jeanne Prejean) was in town as an awards-presenter for Friday’s Dallas Film Society Honors, part of the Dallas International Film Festival.

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