Happy 118th Birthday Henry Fonda

Today is the 118th birthday of the actor Henry Fonda. Attempting to name a few films of his that are great is leaving too many off the list. The Grapes of Wrath and The Lady Eve are two that come to mind immediately. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Henry Jaynes Fonda
DATE OF BIRTH: 16-May-1905
PLACE OF BIRTH: Grand Island, NE
DATE OF DEATH: 12-Aug-1982
CAUSE OF DEATH: Heart Failure
REMAINS: Cremated (ashes scattered)
OSCAR for Best Actor 1982 for On Golden Pond
GOLDEN GLOBE 1982 for On Golden Pond

Father: William Brace Fonda
Mother: Herberta Jaynes
Wife: Frances Seymour Brokaw (2nd, m. 1936, d. 14-Apr-1950)
Daughter: Jane Fonda
Son: Peter Fonda
Wife: Afdera Franchetti (4th, Countess, m. 10-Mar-1957, div. 1961)
Wife: Margaret Sullavan (1st, actress, m. 1931, div. 1932)
Wife: Susan Blanchard (3rd, m. 28-Dec-1950, div. 1956)
Daughter: Amy Fishman (stepdaughter, b. 1953, Blanchard’s daughter, adopted by Fonda)
Wife: Shirley Mae Adams (5th, m. 1965)
Height: 6′ 2″

BEST KNOWN FOR: Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor who had a career that spanned five decades in Hollywood

Fonda grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and the surrounding area. He studied journalism at the University of Minnesota but returned home during his sophomore year. He began acting at the Omaha Community Playhouse at the behest of Marlon Brando’s mother, Dorothy, a Playhouse cofounder. In 1928 Fonda moved to the East Coast to pursue his acting career. He soon joined the University Players Guild, a small summer-stock theatre troupe in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where he met, among others, Joshua Logan, Jimmy Stewart, and Margaret Sullavan, who became the first of his five wives.

Fonda made his Broadway debut in 1929, with a small part in The Game of Love and Death. Other stage appearances followed, and in 1934 he played his first leading role on Broadway in The Farmer Takes a Wife. He reprised the role in his movie debut the next year. In 1936 Fonda married socialite Frances Ford Seymour Brokaw, and the couple had two children, Jane and Peter, both of whom became noted actors. Frances later committed suicide.

Trained on the stage to project his voice, Fonda quickly adapted to film by underplaying his roles, which gave him a quietly intense screen persona. This reserved approach prevented him from becoming a romantic screen idol, although his good looks and adaptable presence made him a successful leading man in the period drama Jezebel (1938), with Bette Davis, and the romantic comedies The Lady Eve (1941), with Barbara Stanwyck, and The Big Street (1942), with Lucille Ball.

During this time, Fonda began appearing in movies directed by John Ford, and their collaborations produced a number of classic films that established Fonda as a star. He portrayed a gallery of populist American icons, including the gentle, modest Abraham Lincoln in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and the dispossessed farmer and ex-convict Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel. The latter role earned Fonda particular praise and his first Academy Award nomination. He also appeared in Ford’s classic westerns My Darling Clementine (1946), playing the legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp, and Fort Apache (1948), in which he starred as the inflexible Lieut. Col. Owen Thursday, a character modeled on George Armstrong Custer.

Although the typical Fonda character frequently moves in a world of men—the American West, the army, the navy—he is less a man of action than one of quiet thought. In films such as The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), his characters embody the voice of conscience and reason. Their integrity and decency, rather than physical strength or athletic grace and exuberance, provide the impetus for their heroism.

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Fonda starred in several films before making a triumphant return to Broadway in the title role of Mister Roberts (1948–51). He played an idealistic officer on a cargo ship whose attempts to transfer are thwarted by a tyrannical captain. For his performance, Fonda won a Tony Award. He then starred in two more successful Broadway productions—Point of No Return (1951–52) and The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1954–55)—before making the screen version of Mister Roberts (1955). Ford was the initial director on the comedy, but he was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy, in part because of arguments with Fonda over plot elements. The film was a huge success, and the role became one of Fonda’s most iconic. He created another quintessential character in Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957). In the courtroom drama, Fonda played Juror 8, a lone holdout who tries to convince the rest of the jury that the defendant might be innocent. Fonda, a producer of the film, received his second Oscar nomination when it was nominated for best picture.

Fonda continued to alternate between Broadway and Hollywood and appeared occasionally on television. On the stage he gave acclaimed performances as a Nebraska lawyer involved with a young woman from the Bronx in Two for the Seesaw (1958), as Clarence Darrow in an eponymous one-man show (1974), and as a U.S. Supreme Court justice in First Monday in October (1978). His other notable film roles included those of an innocent man on trial for robbery in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1956), an American president in Fail-Safe (1964), a villain (a rare role for Fonda) in Sergio Leone’s Once upon a Time in the West (1968), and a bit part in Wanda Nevada (1979), directed by and starring his son, Peter. In 1981 Fonda appeared in his last feature film, On Golden Pond, playing a cantankerous husband and father during what may be his final summer. The dramedy costarred Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda and was a critical and commercial success. For the role, Henry finally won an Academy Award as best actor. Also in 1981 he costarred with Myrna Loy in the TV movie Summer Solstice.

Fonda was the recipient of numerous honors. In 1978 the American Film Institute presented him with its Life Achievement Award, and in 1981 he received an honorary Academy Award “in recognition of his brilliant accomplishments and enduring contribution to the art of motion pictures.” Fonda published his memoirs, Fonda: My Life (cowritten with Howard Teichmann), in 1981.

The Smith Family Det. Sgt. Chad Smith (1971-72)
The Deputy Marshal Simon Fry (1959-61)

On Golden Pond (4-Dec-1981) as Norman Thayer, Jr.
Gideon’s Trumpet (30-Apr-1980)
The Oldest Living Graduate (7-Apr-1980) as Col. J. C. Kincaid
Meteor (19-Oct-1979)
Wanda Nevada (17-Aug-1979)
City on Fire (24-May-1979)
Roots: The Next Generations (18-Feb-1979)
The Swarm (14-Jul-1978) as Dr. Krim
Fedora (30-May-1978) as Himself
The Greatest Battle (7-Feb-1978)
The Great Smokey Roadblock (7-Sep-1977)
Rollercoaster (17-Jun-1977)
Tentacles (17-Mar-1977)
Captains and the Kings (30-Sep-1976)
Midway (18-Jun-1976) as Adm. Chester W. Nimitz
The Last Days of Mussolini (29-Mar-1974)
My Name Is Nobody (13-Dec-1973) as Jack Beauregard
Ash Wednesday (1-Nov-1973)
Night Flight from Moscow (7-Apr-1973)
The Red Pony (18-Mar-1973)
Sometimes a Great Notion (19-Jan-1972) as Henry
There Was a Crooked Man… (19-Sep-1970) as Woodward Lopeman
The Cheyenne Social Club (12-Jun-1970)
Too Late the Hero (20-May-1970)
Once Upon a Time in the West (21-Dec-1968) as Frank
The Boston Strangler (16-Oct-1968) as John S. Bottomly
Yours, Mine and Ours (24-Apr-1968)
Madigan (13-Mar-1968) as Commissioner Anthony X. Russell
Firecreek (24-Jan-1968) as Larkin
Stranger on the Run (31-Oct-1967)
Welcome to Hard Times (1-May-1967) as Will Blue
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (8-Jun-1966) as Meredith
Battle of the Bulge (16-Dec-1965) as Lt. Col. Kiley
The Dirty Game (23-Jun-1965)
In Harm’s Way (6-Apr-1965) as CINCPAC II
The Rounders (8-Jan-1965) as Howdy Lewis
Sex and the Single Girl (25-Dec-1964) as Frank
Fail Safe (7-Oct-1964) as The President
The Best Man (5-Apr-1964) as William Russell
Spencer’s Mountain (16-May-1963)
How the West Was Won (1-Nov-1962) as Jethro Stuart
The Longest Day (Sep-1962) as Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt
Advise and Consent (6-Jun-1962) as Robert Leffingwell
The Man Who Understood Women (2-Oct-1959)
Warlock (1-Apr-1959)
Stage Struck (22-Apr-1958) as Lewis Easton
The Tin Star (23-Oct-1957) as Morg Hickman
12 Angry Men (13-Apr-1957) as Juror #8
The Wrong Man (22-Dec-1956) as Manny Balestrero
War and Peace (21-Aug-1956) as Pierre
Mister Roberts (30-Jul-1955) as Lt. Roberts
Fort Apache (9-Mar-1948) as Lt. Col. Owen Thursday
On Our Merry Way (3-Feb-1948) as Lank
Daisy Kenyon (25-Dec-1947) as Peter Lapham
The Fugitive (3-Nov-1947) as A Fugitive
The Long Night (28-May-1947) as Joe
My Darling Clementine (3-Dec-1946)
The Ox-Bow Incident (21-May-1943) as Gil Carter
Immortal Sergeant (11-Jan-1943) as Cpl. Colin Spence
The Big Street (13-Aug-1942) as Agustus “Little Pinks” Pinkerton II
Tales of Manhattan (5-Aug-1942)
The Magnificent Dope (1-Jul-1942)
The Male Animal (4-Apr-1942) as Tommy Turner
Rings on Her Fingers (20-Mar-1942)
You Belong to Me (22-Oct-1941) as Peter Kirk
Wild Geese Calling (15-Aug-1941)
The Lady Eve (25-Feb-1941) as Charles
Chad Hanna (25-Dec-1940)
The Return of Frank James (10-Aug-1940) as Frank James
Lillian Russell (15-May-1940)
The Grapes of Wrath (15-Mar-1940) as Tom Joad
Drums Along the Mohawk (3-Nov-1939) as Gilbert Martin
Young Mr. Lincoln (30-May-1939)
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1-Apr-1939)
Let Us Live (29-Mar-1939) as Brick Tennant
Jesse James (13-Jan-1939) as Frank James
The Mad Miss Manton (8-Oct-1938) as Peter Ames
Spawn of the North (26-Aug-1938)
Blockade (16-Jun-1938) as Marco
Jezebel (10-Mar-1938) as Preston Dillard
I Met My Love Again (14-Jan-1938) as Ives
That Certain Woman (15-Sep-1937) as Jack Merrick
Slim (24-Jun-1937) as Slim
You Only Live Once (27-Jan-1937) as Eddie Taylor
Wings of the Morning (1937) as Kerry
Spendthrift (22-Jul-1936)
The Moon’s Our Home (10-Apr-1936)
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (19-Feb-1936)
I Dream Too Much (27-Nov-1935) as Jonathan Street
Way Down East (16-Oct-1935)
The Farmer Takes a Wife (11-Jun-1935)

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