Born: 16 May 1905
Died: 12 August 1982 (heart failure)
Birthplace: Grand Island, Nebraska
Best known as: Tom Joad in the movie The Grapes of Wrath
Henry Fonda was one of America's most popular movie stars from the 1940s through the 1970s. Early in his career he was closely associated with director John Ford
, starring in Ford movies including Young Mr. Lincoln
(1939), The Grapes of Wrath
(1940) and My Darling Clementine
(1946). After serving in the Navy in World War II Fonda began three decades of work as an American icon, often playing modest, fundamentally decent heroes in movies like Mister Roberts
(1955, co-starring Jack Lemmon
) and Twelve Angry Men
(1957). Fonda was also a regular on Broadway, most notably originating the title role in the naval comedy Mister Roberts
in 1948. (Fonda himself had enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving in the South Pacific and earning a Bronze Star.) He capped his career with his first Oscar as best actor for On Golden Pond
(1981, opposite screen legend Katharine Hepburn
). Fonda is the father of actors Jane Fonda
and Peter Fonda
and the grandfather of actress Bridget Fonda.
Fonda attended the University of Minnesota, but didn’t graduate… He was married five times: to actress Margaret Sullavan from 1931 until their divorce in 1933; to Frances Ford Seymour from 1936 until her suicide in 1950; to Susan Blanchard, the stepdaughter of Oscar Hammerstein II, from 1950 until their divorce in 1956; to the Italian Afdera Franchetti from 1957 until their divorce in 1961; and to Shirlee Adams from 1965 until his death in 1982. Frances was the mother of Jane Fonda (b. 1937) and Peter Fonda (b. 1939). Henry also adopted a daughter, Amy (b. 1953), with Susan Blanchard.
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