Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film and stage actor with a career spanning five decades.
Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins. He made his Hollywood debut in 1935, and his career gained momentum after his Academy Award-nominated performance as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, a 1940 adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel about an Oklahoma family who moved west during the Dust Bowl.
Throughout five decades in Hollywood, Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in such classics as The Ox-Bow Incident, Mister Roberts, and 12 Angry Men. Later, Fonda moved both toward darker epics such as Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West and lighter roles in family comedies such as Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 54th Academy Awards for the movie On Golden Pond, his final film role.
Fonda was the patriarch of a family of famous actors, including daughter Jane Fonda, son Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda, and grandson Troy Garity. His family and close friends called him "Hank". In 1999, he was named the sixth-Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.
He is also known as Henry Jaynes Fonda.
Fonda died at his Los Angeles home on August 12, 1982, from heart disease. Fonda's wife, Shirlee, his daughter Jane, and his son Peter were at his side that day. He suffered from prostate cancer, but this did not directly cause his death and was noted only as a concurrent ailment on his death certificate.
Fonda requested that no funeral be held, and he was promptly cremated. President Ronald Reagan, a former actor himself, hailed Fonda as "a true professional dedicated to excellence in his craft. He graced the screen with a sincerity and accuracy which made him a legend."
Fonda is widely recognized as one of the Hollywood greats of the classic era. On the centenary of his birth, May 16, 2005, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) honored Fonda with a marathon of his films. Also in May 2005, the United States Post Office released a 37-cent postage stamp with an artist's drawing of Fonda as part of their "Hollywood legends" series. The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, originally known as the Carter DeHaven Music Box, was named for the actor in 1985 by the Nederlander Organization.