One of the cinema's most enduring actors, Henry Fonda enjoyed a highly successful career spanning close to a half century. Most often in association with director John Ford, he starred in many of the finest films of Hollywood's golden era. Born May 16, 1905, in Grand Island, NE, Fonda majored in journalism in college, and worked as an office boy before pursuing an interest in acting. He began his amateur career with the Omaha Community Playhouse, often performing with the mother of Marlon Brando. Upon becoming a professional performer in 1928, Fonda traveled east, tenuring with the Provincetown Players before signing on with the University Players Guild, a New England-based ensemble including up-and-comers like James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, and Joshua Logan. Fonda's first Broadway appearance followed with 1929's The Game of Life and Death. He also worked in stock, and even served as a set designer.
In 1931, Fonda and Sullavan were married, and the following year he appeared in I Loved You Wednesday. The couple divorced in 1933, and Fonda's big break soon followed in New Faces of '34. A leading role in The Farmer Takes a Wife was next, and when 20th Century Fox bought the film rights, they recruited him to reprise his performance opposite Janet Gaynor, resulting in his 1935 screen debut. Fonda and Gaynor were slated to reunite in the follow-up, Way Down East, but when she fell ill Rochelle Hudson stepped in. In 1936 he starred in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (the first outdoor Technicolor production), the performance which forever defined his onscreen persona: Intense, insistent, and unflappable, he was also extraordinarily adaptable, and so virtually impossible to miscast. He next co-starred with Sullavan in The Moon's Our Home, followed by Wings of the Morning (another Technicolor milestone, this one the first British feature of its kind).