Peter Fonda, the star, co-writer and producer of the 1969 cult classic Easy Rider, has died at the age of 79, BBC.com reported.
In a statement, his family said he suffered respiratory failure due to lung cancer, and died peacefully at home in Los Angeles.
His older sister Jane Fonda added: “I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family.
“I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”
Peter Fonda was part of a veteran Hollywood family. As well as being the brother of Jane Fonda, he was also the son of actor Henry Fonda, and was married to Bridget, also an actor.
Easy Rider, in which Fonda appeared alongside its director Dennis Hopper and a young Jack Nicholson, became a cult classic and earned Fonda an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Fonda played a biker in the film — a role he would take up a number of times throughout his career, the report said.
The film, the first counterculture movie to be a huge hit, touched a nerve for America’s youth, the BBC’s Peter Bowes reports from Los Angeles.
Film critic Roger Ebert called the film “one of the rallying-points of the late ’60s,” saying it was a buddy picture that celebrated “sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and the freedom of the open road.”
“It did a lot of repeat business while the sweet smell of pot drifted through theaters,” Ebert wrote of the film in 2004.
Goodfellas actress Illeana Douglas tweeted a tribute to Fonda, and to the film — which she said “depicted the rise of hippie culture, condemned the establishment, and celebrated freedom.”
Later in life he put his efforts into environmentalism, and in 2012 he co-produced The Big Fix — a film about the explosion of the BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon.
“While we mourn the loss of this sweet and gracious man, we also wish for all to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life,” the family’s statement said. “In honour of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”
According to Variety, in his 1998 autobiography, “Don’t Tell Dad: A Memoir,” Fonda said that he got the idea for “Easy Rider” while staring at a poster for “The Wild Angels.”
“I understood immediately just what kind of motorcycle, sex, and drug movie I should make next,” Fonda wrote.
“It would not be about one hundred Hell’s angels on their way to a funeral. It would be about the Duke and Jeffrey Hunter looking for Natalie Wood. I would be the Duke and (Dennis) Hopper would be my Ward Bond; America would be our Natalie Wood. And after a long journey to the East across John Ford’s America, what would become of us? We would be blasted to bits by narrow-minded, redneck poachers at dawn, just outside of Heaven, Florida, and the bed of their pickup would be full of ducks.”
In his review of the film, Howard Smith of the Village Voice wrote, “Terry Southern wrote the script which will do for Fonda what none of his other roles did. That is, make him an enormous hero-star. He comes off like a combination of Clint Eastwood and James Dean.”