Known in turn as Henry Fonda's son, Jane Fonda's brother, counter-culture icon Captain America, and Bridget Fonda's father, Peter Fonda finally got his due as an actor for his superb performance as a Florida beekeeper in Ulee's Gold (1997). Snaring an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for his work, Fonda was finally able to step out of his celebrated family's shadow, earning recognition for something besides his title as the black sheep of the Fonda clan.
Born in New York City on February 23, 1940, Fonda, by his own accounts, grew up trying to live up to his famous father's expectations. An exceptionally bright young man, he entered the University of Omaha as a sophomore at the age of seventeen, without even finishing high school. In Omaha, he broke into acting, appearing in the Omaha Playhouse's production of Harvey. He then went to New York to pursue his acting career, first working with the Cecilwood Theatre and then debuting on Broadway at the age of twenty-one in a production of Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole. His early career took shape under the specter of his famous father, with the young actor incurring comparisons to the elder Fonda with everything he did. His onstage success led to a Hollywood screen test for the part of John F. Kennedy in PT 109. The role in the 1963 film ultimately went to Cliff Robertson, but Fonda made his film debut that same year in the Sandra Dee vehicle Tammy and the Doctor.