‘Easy Rider’ Star Peter Fonda Dead At 79

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Katie Jerkovich Entertainment Reporter
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Peter Fonda, star of “Easy Rider” and brother of actress Jane Fonda, lost his long battle with cancer Friday his family has confirmed. He was 79.

The son of the legendary actor, Henry Fonda, died after suffering respiratory failure due to lung cancer, the family shared in a statement to People magazine after news surfaced about the actor’s death. (RELATED: Legendary Comic Don Rickles Died At Age 90)

“It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away,” the family said. “[Peter] passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16 at 11:05 a.m. at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family.”(RELATED: Hollywood Reacts To Death Of Legendary Actress Doris Day)

“The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer,” the statement added. “In one of the saddest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy.”

The statement concluded, “And, 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. In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”

Reacting to the news, his sister Jane Fonda said she was “very sad” to loose her “sweet-hearted baby brother.”

“He was my sweet-hearted baby brother,” the “Book Club” star said. “The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”

The two-time Oscar-nominee will probably best be remembered as the counterculture icon who co-wrote, produced and starred in “Easy Rider” in 1969,” per Variety magazine.

In Peter’s 1998 autobiography, “Don’t Tell Dad: A Memoir,” the actor said he got the idea for the classic after looking at poster from one of his first films about Hells Angels called “The Wild Angels” that he did in 1966 with Nancy Sinatra and Bruce Dern.

“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,” he added. “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. I mean really full of ducks.”