A Peter Fonda co-star, John Travolta, says late actor never forgot he led ‘a special life’

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“I think you all oughta get back on your bikes and go out and ride the highway, until you remember what riding’s all about.” – Peter Fonda in “Wild Hogs.”

The late Peter Fonda’s cameo as the legendary biker Damien Blade in “Wild Hogs” (2007) was an obvious (and entertaining) nod to Fonda’s iconic role in the groundbreaking “Easy Rider.”

On Monday, “Wild Hogs” star John Travolta was in Chicago to promote his upcoming movie “The Fanatic,” and I asked him about spending time with Fonda, who died Friday at 79.

“I loved Peter,” said Travolta. “I’ve been friends with [his sister] Jane since the beginning. I just … emailed her and gave her my thoughts, and Jane is amazing, she immediately responds, she’s gorgeous that way. …

“I don’t think everyone on the [‘Wild Hogs’] set realized the magnitude of who we had. And I said to the guys, ‘Guys, this is SUCH a big deal.’


Martin Lawrence (from left), Tim Allen and John Travolta co-starred in “Wild Hogs.”
Touchstone Pictures

“I’m a little older than a couple of [my co-stars] but I thought: Weren’t you AROUND when ‘Easy Rider’ came out? I was like 14 when it came out and it rocked, it ruled!

“I sat with Peter for hours in a corner of one of the sets, and just rocked out on hearing stories. And my favorite story he told me was that when he was 16 years old, he was on a plane, a propeller airliner [with his father, Henry Fonda], going from New York to London and guess who was on board? Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando.

“And Peter asked his father for permission to go downstairs to the lounge. In those days, the early days of airliners, the cocktail lounge was in the basement of the plane. You’d take the spiral staircase downstairs.

“So he got permission to go downstairs to the bar where Clift and Brando were hanging. Brando and Clift were at the peak of their game, in this bar on a plane, hobnobbing and chatting, and 16-year-old Peter Fonda got to [soak that] all in.

“Peter was filled with wonderful stories. He knew who he was, he knew the life he had, and he wasn’t wasting it on anything. And I really loved that, because so many people have special lives, but they’re not clocking that it’s a special life. Peter knew he was … a part of history.”

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