Peter Fonda dies aged 79 from respiratory failure

Faye James

Easy Rider actor Peter Fonda has died aged 79 after he suffered respiratory failure due to lung cancer. 

The news was confirmed to PEOPLE via a statement from the family. 

“It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Peter Fonda has passed away,” the statement began.

“[Peter] passed away peacefully on Friday morning, August 16 at 11:05am at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family,” they continued. “The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer.”

 Actor Peter Fonda (L) and honoree Jane Fonda  Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

“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,” they wrote.

“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,” the Fonda family finished. “In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”

His sister Jane Fonda also said in a statement: “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.”

Fonda was a well known figure of the 1960s counterculture movement. He earned an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay for Easy Rider, which also starred Dennis Hopper.

He was nominated for the best actor Oscar for the 1997 drama Ulee's Gold. Fonda won the Golden Globe for the film.

Fonda was born in New York to Hollywood star Henry and his socialite wife Frances Ford Seymour.

During the 1960s he was a member of the counterculture and met the Beatles at a home in Los Angeles. His conversations with John Lennon while on LSD inspired the song She Said She Said.

He and Hopper starred in Easy Rider as a pair of long-haired bikers driving through the south of the United States.

Peter Fonda, circa 1962 Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty

Following the massive success of Easy Rider, the first counterculture film to be a hit, Fonda was highly sought after in Hollywood.

He starred in and directed The Hired Hand in 1971, among others. However, none reached the heights of Easy Rider.

In 1997 Fonda found another critically acclaimed role in Ulee's Gold, which saw him in the title role as a Florida beekeeper fighting criminals threatening his family.

The actor had courted controversy in his final years. He was a fierce critic of Donald Trump and made headlines for comments he made about one of the president's sons.

Reacting to US immigration policies which saw migrant children separated from their parents at the border, he tweeted "we should rip" Mr Trump's son "from his mother's arms" and "put him in a cage with pedophiles".

Fonda's daughter, Bridget Fonda, is also an actor.

He was married three times and is also survived by his most recent wife Margaret DeVogelaere, who he married in 2011 and son Justin from his marriage to his first wife Susan Brewer.