A star of both stage and screen for more than 50 years, Henry Fonda (1905-1982) was known for portraying the average "every man" with sincerity, integrity, and decency. Though Fonda occasionally played characters with a dark or impatient side, critics considered most all of his performances to be natural and unassuming. Despite spectacular performances in films such as The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Fonda did not receive an Academy Award until a shortly before his death.
In 1935, Fonda made his film debut in The Farmer Takes a Wife, opposite co-star Janet Gaynor. Though he had created the role on stage, Fonda was not the first choice for the screen version. His work garnered widespread critical attention. In a review of the film, Andre Sennwald of The New York Times fortuitously wrote, "Mr. Fonda, in his film debut, is the bright particular star of the occasion. As the virtuous farm boy, he plays with an immensely winning simplicity which will quickly make him one of our most attractive film actors." Fonda immediately began making American epic-type films including The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) and was a recognized film star. Despite his Hollywood success, Fonda continued to appear both in films and in theater in New York City. He married his second wife, Frances Seymour Brokaw, in 1936. They had two children together, Jane and Peter, both of whom later became actors.
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