Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 August 12, 1982) was an American actor.
His career lasted from 1935 to 1981, where he was in over a hundred films, television programs, theatre productions and various shorts. He received one Academy Award nomination (The Grapes of Wrath) and eventually won one in 1981 for On Golden Pond. Between 1943 and 1946 his career was blank as he had been enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He was also friends with Jimmy Stewart (despite their opposing political views),note his former roommate.
In his lifetime, Fonda was typecast as straitlaced yet heroic characters like Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath or Juror #8 in 12 Angry Men. His signature role was the beleaguered but sympathetic naval officer in Mister Roberts, which he played for years on stage and later on film. Fonda cemented this image playing Presidents, statesmen, generals and other authority figures in most of his later movies. Ironically, today's audiences probably recognize Fonda from his drastically against-type role in Once Upon a Time in the West as a psychotic gunslinger.
Fonda was married five times. His children from his third wife, Frances Ford Seymour, Jane and Peter, as well as granddaughter Bridget, are also accomplished actors in their own right. Though he often played nice guys in his films in real life he was reportedly very distant and withdrawn from people, even his own children, and by his own admission he was not an ideal parent. Peter recalled breaking in to tears upon hearing Henry praise his acting in an interview as it was the first time he'd ever heard his father praise his work. He died of heart failure on August 12, 1982 at age 77.
Henry Fonda on TV Tropes:
- The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935)
- Jezebel (1938)
- The Mad Miss Manton (1938)
- Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
- Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
- The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
- The Lady Eve (1941)
- The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
- My Darling Clementine (1946)
- Fort Apache (1948)
- Mister Roberts (1955)
- War and Peace (1956)
- The Wrong Man (1956)
- 12 Angry Men (1957)
- Advise & Consent (1962)
- The Longest Day (1962)
- How the West Was Won (1962)
- The Best Man (1964)
- Fail Safe (1964)
- Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
- Battle of the Bulge (1965)
- In Harm's Way (1965)
- The Boston Strangler (1968)
- Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
- Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968)
- The Cheyenne Social Club (1970)
- There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)
- My Name Is Nobody (1973)
- Midway (1976)
- Rollercoaster (1977)
- The Swarm (1978)
- Meteor (1979)
- Gideon's Trumpet (1980)
- On Golden Pond (1981)
Tropes associated with his work:
- Celebrity Endorsement: In The '70s, when his Money, Dear Boy phase hit its stride, he became the spokesman for GAF Materials Corporation, endorsing things like blank film and kitchen floors in a long series of TV commercials. GAF also made the View-Master around this time, and one of Fonda's View-Master commercials featured him talking to some kids, including an 8-year-old named Jodie Foster.
- Dogged Nice Guy: His standard role, exemplified by The Grapes of Wrath. Later in his career he typically played Reasonable Authority Figures.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: One of his signatures. Or Creepy Blue Eyes when playing less savory characters.
- Money, Dear Boy: From the '60s onward the balance of Fonda's roles were cameos in movies of varying quality. Occasionally it was something like The Longest Day or How the West Was Won, sometimes it was The Swarm or Meteor.
- Playing Against Type: Fonda almost always played straight-laced heroes, which made his few villain roles extremely effective. See Fort Apache, Advise & Consent, Firecreek and most famously Once Upon a Time in the West.
- Production Posse: Close friend and frequent collaborator with John Ford. They had a serious falling out while shooting Mister Roberts, where Ford grew so angry at Fonda that the director struck him. They patched up their friendship but never worked together again.
- Working-Class Hero: His 30s roles in films like The Grapes of Wrath and You Only Live Once made him this. Indeed author and Civil Rights protestor, James Baldwin noted that Henry Fonda was especially popular with African-American audiences who related to him better than they did other WASP stars.