Born: 16 May 1905, Grand Island, Nebraska, USA.
A real old-time legend of the American Western, with lead roles in such classics as 'The Ox-Bow Incident', 'My Darling Clementine', 'Fort Apache' and 'How the West Was Won'.
Sergio Leone had long wished to work with Fonda and eventually realised this dream with 'Once Upon a Time in the West'. But he turned the tables on all expectations by casting Fonda as the villain, Frank - and as usual Leone's casting was spot-on. One can sense Fonda really relishing this atypical role.
The story goes that Fonda prepared for the role by growing a moustache and wearing contact lenses to cover his baby-blue eyes. But when Leone saw this on set the first day of filming, he let out a flurry of Italian, gesticulating wildly. Fonda was told to shave and remove the contact lenses. The scene where we are first introduced to Frank, with the camera circling round to reveal his face, is one of the most powerful images in all the spaghetti westerns.
He also stared opposite Terence Hill in 'My Name Is Nobody', in a play-off between the traditional hero of the old west and the new style spaghetti western hero.Spaghetti credentials:
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
My Name is Nobody (1973)