Happy birthday Henry Fonda!


Henry Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film, theater, and television actor. He appeared in countless films and was contemporaries to some of Hollywood's greats including James Stewart, Lucille Ball, Audrey Hepburn, and many others. Some of his most notable films include Jezebel (1938), War and Peace (1956), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).


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Fonda was born to William Brace and Elma Herberta Fonda in Grace Island, Nebraska. He was raised a Christian Scientist. He attended the University of Minnesota for Journalism, but did not graduate.

At age 20, he joined the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local theater troupe directed by Dorothy Brando, the mother of Marlon Brando. He then went on to the Cape Cod University Players and then was picked up on Broadway, with his first professional roles in New Faces of America and The Farmer Takes a Wife. When The Farmer Takes a Wife was made into a film, Fonda played his first film part.



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He was widely liked in Hollywood, and soon got parts in The Moon's Our Home (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), Jezebel (1938), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), and The Grapes of Wrath (1940). He continued to star in films until midway into World War II. He served in the Navy for three years.




Fonda began appearing in films again in 1946, beginning with My Darling Clementine and going on to appear in War and Peace (1956), 12 Angry Men (1957), and many others.

One of his best performances came in 1968, with Once Upon a Time in the West.



Fonda was great friends with James Stewart, despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum (Fonda was a liberal Democrat and Stewart a conservative Republican).

As he got older, he continued to appear on television, in films, and on stage. In 1970, he appeared in three films, the most successful being The Cheyenne Social Club. He starred in the ABC television series The Smith Family in 1971 and 1972. He returned to Broadway in 1974 with Clarence Darrow.


He continued to perform right up until his health declined before his death. In 1981, he appeared in On Golden Pond with Katharine Hepburn. This was said to be his "last and greatest role" by many critics and for it, he won his first and last Oscar for Best Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Actor. He was the oldest person ever to receive Best Actor from the Academy. It also garnered 9 other Academy Award nominations.


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Fonda was the recipient of many other awards including BAFTAs, Emmys, Tonys, and one Grammy.

Fonda was married five times and had three children, two of whom were also screen stars–Peter and Jane Fonda.

Fonda died of heart disease in 1982.


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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 16 May 2014
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