Oral History: Proud Dad Henry Fonda

by Jack Tewksbury May 22, 2019
Actor Henry Fodna, Golden Globe winner and Cecil B.deMille recipient

In January 1980, with his Cecil B. deMille award.

hfpa archives

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors and filmmakers. The world's largest collection of its kind - over 10,000  items- is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.

In this excerpt from our archives from the early 1980s, master actor, Golden Globe winner and Cecil B. deMille recipient Henry Fonda talks about his acting clan, led by Jane and Peter Fonda.

“I just feel awful lucky that Jane and Peter did well. You know, when the children of an actor or actress who is successful grow up and decide they want to follow in father or mother’s footsteps, so often it is not successful for them, and it becomes heartbreak time. I’ve seen it happen so many times.

So when my children were growing up,I kept thinking…I don’t hope they won’t but I’m certainly not going to push them. And I’m going to level with them about what they’re facing if they decide to. Fortunately, when they did decide that they wanted to try this show business, I didn’t have to hold my breath very long because they both did well, practically from the start.  So I’m only proud and feel lucky that they did. I don’t take any credit for it. I didn’t help them in one way or another. I  didn’t open doors nor did I try to hold them back.

Lately, meaning the last ten years, when they’re both been successful, we are like contemporaries. We’re not like father and son and daughter. We sit and talk about our business, our craft, whatever you want to call it, like contemporaries. We have the same problems. It’s not a question of giving advice.  Comparing notes…' Dad, I had such a problem in this time'… And I know what she meant. Peter’s got a problem with this, maybe, and we talk about it.  But it’s not really giving advice. We’re just sharing experiences. And I really…It’s a wonderful feeling to feel a contemporary with your children rather than a generation apart.”