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- Henry Fonda. Written By: Henry Fonda, in full Henry Jaynes Fonda, (born May 16, 1905, Grand Island, Nebraska, U.S.—died August 12, 1982, Los Angeles, California), American stage and film actor who appeared in more than 90 films over six decades and created quintessential American heroes known for their integrity.
- Acting career
- Early years
- Early career
- Later career
Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish.
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 Fonda and Peter Fonda, also to become screen stars (his granddaughter is actress Bridget Fonda). 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.
This remarkable, soft-spoken American began in films as a diffident juvenile. With passing years, he matured into a star character actor who exemplified not only integrity and strength, but an ideal of the common man fighting against social injustice and oppression. Henry's father, William Brace Fonda, was a commercial printer, proprietor of the W. B. Fonda Printing Company in Omaha, Nebraska. His distant ancestors were Italians who had fled their country and moved to Holland, presumably because of political or religious persecution. In the mid-1600's, they crossed the Atlantic and settled in upstate New York where they founded a community with the Fonda name.
Growing up, Henry developed an early interest in journalism after having a story published in a local newspaper. At the age of twelve, he helped in his father's printing business for $2 a week. Following graduation from high school in 1923, he got a part-time job in Minneapolis with the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company which allowed him at first to pursue journalistic studies at the University of Minnesota. As it became difficult to juggle his working hours with his academic roster, he obtained another position as a physical education instructor at $30 a week, including room and board. By this time, he had grown to a height of six foot one and was a natural for basketball.
In 1925, having returned to Omaha, Henry reevaluated his options and came to the conclusion that journalism was not his forte, after all. For a while, he tried his hand at several temporary jobs, including as a mechanic and a window dresser. Then, despite opposition from his parents, Henry accepted an offer from Gregory Foley, director of the Omaha Playhouse, to play the title role in 'Merton of the Movies'. His father would not speak to him for a month. The play and its star received fairly good notices in the local press. It ran for a week, after which Henry observed \\"the idea of being Merton and not myself taught me that I could hide behind a mask\\". For the rest of the repertory season, Henry advanced to assistant director which enabled him to design and paint sets as well as act. A casual trip to New York, however, had already made him set his sights on Broadway. In 1928, he headed east and briefly played in summer stock before joining the University Players, a group of talented Princeton and Harvard graduates among whose number were such future luminaries as James Stewart (who would remain his closest lifelong friend), Joshua Logan and Kent Smith. Before long, Henry played leads opposite Margaret Sullavan, soon to become the first of his five wives. Both marriage and the players broke up four years later. In 1932, Henry found himself sharing a two-room New York apartment with Jimmy Stewart and Joshua Logan. For the next two years, he alternated scenic design with acting at various repertory companies. In 1934, he got a break of sorts, when he was given the chance to present a comedy sketch with Imogene Coca in the Broadway revue New Faces. That year, he also hired Leland Hayward as his personal management agent and this was to pay off handsomely.
It was Hayward who persuaded the 29-year old to become a motion picture actor, despite initial misgivings and reluctance on Henry's part. Independent producer Walter Wanger, whose growing stock company was birthed at United Artists, needed a star for The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935). With both first choice actors Gary Cooper and Joel McCrea otherwise engaged, Henry was the next available option. After all, he had just completed a successful run on Broadway in the stage version. The cheesy publicity tag line for the picture was \\"you'll be fonder of Fonda\\", but the film was an undeniable hit. Wanger, realizing he had a good thing going, next cast Henry in a succession of A-grade pictures which capitalized on his image as the sincere, unaffected country boy. Pick of the bunch were the Technicolor outdoor western The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), the gritty Depression-era drama You Only Live Once (1937) (with Henry as a back-to-the-wall good guy forced into becoming a fugitive from the law by circumstance), the screwball comedy The Moon's Our Home (1936) (with ex-wife Sullavan), the excellent pre-civil war-era romantic drama Jezebel (1938) and the equally superb Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), in which Henry gave his best screen performance to date as the 'jackleg lawyer from Springfield'. Henry made two more films with director John Ford: the pioneering drama Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940), with Henry as Tom Joad, often regarded his career-defining role as the archetypal grassroots American trying to stand up against oppression. It also set the tone for his subsequent career. Whether he played a lawman (Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine (1946)), a reluctant posse member (The Ox-Bow Incident (1942), a juror committed to the ideal of total justice in (12 Angry Men (1957)) or a nightclub musician wrongly accused of murder (The Wrong Man (1956)), his characters were alike in projecting integrity and quiet authority. In this vein, he also gave a totally convincing (though historically inaccurate) portrayal in the titular role of The Return of Frank James (1940), a rare example of a sequel improving upon the original.
Henry rarely featured in comedy, except for a couple of good turns opposite Barbara Stanwyck -- with whom he shared an excellent on-screen chemistry -- in The Mad Miss Manton (1938) and The Lady Eve (1941). He was also good value as a poker-playing grifter in the western comedy A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966). Finally, just to confound those who would typecast him, he gave a chilling performance as one of the coldest, meanest stone killers ever to roam the West, in Sergio Leone's classic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Illness curtailed his work in the 1970s. His final screen role was as an octogenarian in On Golden Pond (1981), in which he was joined by his daughter Jane. It finally won him an Oscar on the heels of an earlier Honorary Academy Award. Too ill to attend the ceremony, he died soon after at the age of 77, having left a lasting legacy matched by few of his peers.
Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film and stage actor who had a career that spanned five decades in Hollywood. Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in several films now considered to be classics, earning one Academy Award for Best Actor on two nominations.
Apr 15, 2021 · Henry Fonda, in full Henry Jaynes Fonda, (born May 16, 1905, Grand Island, Nebraska, U.S.—died August 12, 1982, Los Angeles, California), American stage and film actor who appeared in more than 90 films over six decades and created quintessential American heroes known for their integrity. Early life and career
Henry Jaynes Fonda was a well-known American film and stage actor born in early twentieth century. Initially, he was a short shy boy keenly interested in boys scouting; but avoided girls as much as he could. Towards the end of his school years he suddenly grew tall and handsome.
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...
- Discovered The Theater
- Made Broadway Debut
- Began Film Career
- Further Reading on Henry Fonda
After graduating from Omaha Central High School in 1923, Fonda entered the University of Minnesota to study journalism. William Fonda insisted that his son hold a job while in college, and Fonda held two. He worked as a physical education instructor at a settlement house and for the telephone company. The strain of maintaining two jobs may have contributed to Fonda's dropping out of school after about two years. In 1925, Fonda returned to Omaha, to look for a job in journalism. A friend of his mother's, Dorothy Brando (mother of famous American actor Marlon Brando), offered him a chance to audition for a part at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Dorothy Brando was an amateur actress and very involved with the group. Despite his inexperience, Fonda was cast as Ricky in You and I.Though initially unsure of himself, Fonda grew to love the experience. Soon he was spending a significant amount of time at the Playhouse, performing odd jobs such as ushering and set building. Fonda's father di...
Fonda's first appearance on Broadway was a small walk-on role in the 1929 production of The Game of Life and Death. The production closed after six weeks, and it would take several years for Fonda to establish himself in New York City. In addition to his summer work with the University Players Guild, Fonda appeared in many productions of the National Junior Theatre in Washington, D.C. He appeared in many productions in 1929 through 1931, including a stint as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.Fonda was married in 1931, to fellow actress, Margaret Sullivan. The marriage was short-lived, however, and the couple divorced in 1933. By the early 1930s, Fonda appeared more regularly in productions in New York City. In 1932, for example, he played Eustace in I Loved You Wednesday. Critics began noticing Fonda in 1934 when he appeared in the revue New Faces, doing comic sketches with actress Imogene Coca. Through his work in summer stock, Fonda got a big break later in 1934 when he was ca...
In 1935, Fonda made his film debut in The Farmer Takes a Wife, opposite co-star Janet Gaynor. Though he had created the role on stage, Fonda was not the first choice for the screen version. His work garnered widespread critical attention. In a review of the film, Andre Sennwald of The New York Times fortuitously wrote, "Mr. Fonda, in his film debut, is the bright particular star of the occasion. As the virtuous farm boy, he plays with an immensely winning simplicity which will quickly make him one of our most attractive film actors." Fonda immediately began making American epic-type films including The Trail of the Lonesome Pine(1936) and was a recognized film star. Despite his Hollywood success, Fonda continued to appear both in films and in theater in New York City. He married his second wife, Frances Seymour Brokaw, in 1936. They had two children together, Jane and Peter, both of whom later became actors. In 1939, Fonda first film with director John Ford, Young Mr. Lincoln, recei...
American National Biography,edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, Oxford University Press, 1999. Cassell Companion to Cinema,Cassell, 1997. The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives,volume 1, edited by Kenneth T. Jackson, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers-3: Actors and Actresses,third edition, edited by Amy L. Unterburger, St. James Press, 1997. Thomson, David, A Biographical Dictionary of Film,third edition, Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. New York Times,August 9, 1935, p. 21; December 4, 1981, p.D4; August 13, 1982, p. A1 Variety,August 18, 1982, p. 4.
- Childhood and Early Life
- Awards and Achievements
- Personal Life and Legacy
Henry Fondawas born on May 16, 1905, in Grand Island, Nebraska to William Brace Fonda, and his wife, Elma Herberta. Fonda’s ancestors were initially from Italy. During his childhood days, Henry Fonda did not show any inclination to be an actor. He was a shy, short-heighted boy whose aim was to become a journalist. But during his senior school days, he suddenly started growing taller and ended up growing to a final height of 6 feet 1.5 inches. Fonda enrolled himself at the University of Minnesota with Journalism as his Major. But he did not complete the course. Instead, he took up a job in a retail credit company named Equifax Inc. At the age of 20, Henry Fonda's acting career started quite accidentally. His mother’s friend Dorothy Brando, mother of the famous actor Marlon Brando, selected him for a juvenile character, Ricky in her play called ‘You and I’ staged in the Omaha Community Hall, Nebraska. During his debut appearance in the play, he instantly fell in love with all aspects...
In 1932, Henry Fonda came to the New York City to work in the Broadway. After an initial struggle of two years in Broadway, he finally succeeded in getting critical acclaim for his characterization of Dan Harrow in the show ‘The Farmer takes a wife.’The show got an overwhelming public response when opened at Broadway on October 30, 1934. The show turned out to be the turning point in Fonda’s career. Victor Fleming, a famous producer-director at that time in Hollywood, was impressed with the success of the Broadway show and adapted the story for making a comedy film. He offered the role of Dan Harrow again to Henry Fonda. Accordingly, in 1935 the film version of ‘The Farmer takes a Wife’ was shot and subsequently released. The film helped Henry Fondagain a firm foothold in the Hollywood film industry. In 1935, Henry Fonda’s character of Dave Tollivert in the ‘Trail of the Lonesome Pine’ again proved his splendid acting calibre. Celebrity actress Batte Davis offered Fonda the role of...
In 1948, Henry Fonda won the ‘Tony Award’for his role in ‘Mister Roberts’. In 1958, he received the BAFTA Award in the ‘Best Actor’ category. He also won the Golden Globe Award in ‘Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama’ category for his role in ‘12 Angry Men’. In 1977, Henry Fonda was conferred with the Grammy Awards in the Best Spoken Word Album for his work in ‘Great American Document.’ In 1980, Fonda was honored with ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’by Academy Awards. Henry Fonda received the Academy Award in the ‘Best Actor’ category for his role in ‘On Golden Pond’ in 1981. He also bagged the ‘Golden Globe Award’in ‘Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama’ category for the same work in 1982. He was also bestowed with the Navy Presidential Unit Citation Award and the Bronze Starfor his contribution during World War II.
Henry Fonda tied the nuptial knot for five times. He married Margaret Sullavan in 1931, and they divorced in 1933. In 1936, he entered into wedlock with Frances Ford Seymour Brokaw. His two children, Jane and Peter Fonda, were from this marriage. He spent thirteen years with his second wife but eventually divorced her in 1949. Next, he married 21-year-old Susan Blanchard and adopted daughter Amy Fishman. Within the next three years, the couple parted ways. From 1957-1961, he was married to Italian baroness Afdera Franchetti. Finally, he wedded Shirlee Mae Adamsin 1965. They remained unseparated till his death. On August 12, 1982, Henry Fonda dieddue to heart disease. He was also diagnosed with prostate cancer. As he was an Agnostic, he did not want any funeral, and his body was cremated immediately.
Biography Henry Fonda was born Henry Jaynes Fonda in Grand Island, Nebraska, in 1905. His family were Christian Scientists and he was brought up in a strict but loving environment. His father ran a small printing company in Omaha and the family were comfortably off.
So much of what we know about actor Henry Fonda derives from the authority of his body on-screen: a long, taut, calibrated instrument, most expressive when restrained—as it nearly always was. A lean six feet one, he had the height and physique of a movie aristocrat, but could play a proletarian or a president.
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