Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 16, 2011

Henry Fonda from the trailer for The Lady Eve

May 16, 1905: Henry Jaynes Fonda is born in Grand Island, Nebraska to William Brace Fonda and Elma Hibetta Fonda (nee Jaynes). He was raised as a Christian Scientist in a close and supportive family. He was a short, bashful boy, especially around girls. He was an avid skater, swimmer, and runner. He grew to over six feet tall his senior year in high school. He worked at his father’s print plant and went off to the University of Minnesota to become a journalist. He did not graduate, however. At age 20, he began his acting career at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Fonda moved East in 1928 where he met both is first wife and James Stewart. He soon switched wives, but he and Stewart remained lifelong friends. Fonda continued with theatrical productions until 1934. He got his first Hollywood break with the 1935 movie, The Farmer Takes a Wife, where he continued the lead role he had played on Broadway. After America entered World War II, Fonda enlisted in the Navy and served on the destroyer, USS Satterlee, before moving to Air Combat Intelligence in the Central Pacific.

After the war, Fonda returned to movies. Overall, he appeared in 106 films, TV programs, and shorts from 1935 through 1981. He won and Academy Award for Best Actor for On Golden Pond (1981) and a Lifetime Achievement Oscar that same year. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor for 12 Angry Men (1958) and a Golden Globe in 1982 for On Golden Pond as well as another Lifetime Achievement Award. He received a Tony for Best Actor for Mister Roberts in 1948 (and much preferred the live performance to the movie) as well as a Lifetime Achievement Tony in 1979.

Henry had five wives. First, Margaret Sullivan in 1931. They soon separated and divorced in 1933. He then married Frances ford Seymour in 1936 and they had two children, Jane and Peter. Frances committed suicide in 1950. Next he married Susan Blanchard and the couple adopted daughter Amy, but divorced in 1956. He then had a short marriage to Countess Afdera Franchetti (1957-1961) after which he married Shirlee Mae Adams. They remained married until his death from a heart attack on August 12, 1982 at the age of 77.

“Love scenes are difficult for me not just because they’re in front of a camera. I’ve never felt like a terrific lover on screen or in private.”

“It’s difficult for me to meet new people. I’m not easy to talk to. I don’t have ready conversation.”

“I’m not a religious man, but I thank God every morning that I lived long enough to play that role. On Golden Pond, how can I describe the experience? Magic, I think. Magic!”

“I’m a not a very interesting person. I haven’t ever done anything except be other people. I ain’t really Henry Fonda! Nobody could be. Nobody could have that much integrity.”

“I’m not that pristine pure, I guess I’ve broken as many rules as the next feller. But I reckon my face looks honest enough and if people buy it, Hallelujah!” – all from Henry Fonda

Also on this day:
“Oh-oh! SpaghettiOs!” – In 1965 Franco-American puts SpaghettiOs on the market.
Sedition – In 1918, a new Sedition Act was put into place in the US.

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One Response

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  1. GYSC said, on May 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Love the film “On Golden Pond”.

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