Last week was a sad one for baby boomers.  Peter Fonda, Henry’s son, Jane’s brother and Bridget’s father, who starred in Easy Rider, passed away at 79. For The 60’s flower children, who had their own style of fashion, hair, music and drugs, Easy Rider was “their” movie.

The late film critic,  Roger Ebert, called Easy Rider, “One of the rallying-points of the late ‘60s, a buddy picture that celebrated sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and the freedom of the open road.” (In 2004, Ebert recalled that, “Easy Rider did a lot of repeat business, while the sweet smell of pot drifted through theaters.”)

For so  many baby boomers, Fonda’s death was a shock. John Lennon was murdered, Jim Morrison, overdosed as likely did Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.  But Fonda basically died of old age.

Fonda’s passing was to them, perhaps one more sign that the dreams of the peace and love generation may have also died. Just look at the White House. It’s like George Wallace is president, only more deranged. Trump rants discursively about buying Greenland and wiping Afghanistan off the map.  He casually repeats an anti-Semetic trope, saying Jews who vote Democratic are “disloyal” and shamelessly refers to himself as the “King of Israel,” the “2nd coming of God,” and, looking heavenward, “I am the Chosen One.” (No, you are the mentally ill one!)

Coincidentally, last week was also the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.  I hate to point it out, but if you look around you don’t see much peace or love left.  As I write this, three unrelated 20-something potential mass murderers were arrested before they could kill innocent victims in Connecticut, Florida and Ohio.

If their parents’ generation was “the greatest generation,” the boomers were the highest hopes generation.”  They wanted to save the planet, end segregation and promote equal rights for women. Ten years after An Inconvenient Truth, due to climate change, a U.N. study says, without severe corrections, in 12 years the planet could be uninhabitable as we know it. And yet “Agent Orange” says “climate change is a hoax.”

As for women’s  rights, females are still fighting for equal pay and the right not be grabbed by the pus*y or sexually harassed. Twenty women have accused “Don the Con” of doing one or both.   As for the pervasive boomer malaise, Michael Moore summed it up concisely, “We wanted to make the world better than we found it, but for the kids growing up today, it’s far worse.”

Back to Easy Rider, fortunately I had someone connected to talk about the iconic movie and Fonda’s passing. Long time Santa Monica resident,  Henry Jaglom, was the  film editor of Easy Rider. This, despite, other than a lot of moxie,  he had no experience except his “home movies” from a trip to Israel right after the Six Day War in 1967.

Jaglom showed his 3 hour battle field footage (in 5-minute clips, mind you)   featuring tanks, equipment and even clothing, abandoned by the Arab military to Bert Schneider. Decades earlier, believe it or not,  Schneider had been his camp counselor. And now, as fate would have it,  he was producing Easy Rider. (Not necessarily what you know but who you know.)

For Jaglom Easy Rider is bitter sweet, all because he was offered $1,000 a week for 8 weeks of editing or 1% of the gross.  Jaglom took his businessman father’s seemingly wise counsel to take the cash in hand.  However, the gross for Easy Rider, perhaps too fantastic to hide, was a whopping $60,000,000. The 1%, which Schneider’s secretary took and Jaglom didn’t,  was worth $600,000!  (Ouch.)

In the editing process, Jaglom discovered that the key character upon which the movie depended, was Jack Nicholson’s. So Henry highlighted every scene Jack was in and diminished some of Fonda and Hopper. In fact, years ago Nicholson confessed to Jaglom that his entire acting career might have stemmed from Easy Rider. (Nicholson’s  worth is $400,000,000, so 1% would be $4,000,000, as I hope Henry isn’t reading this.)  

David Crosby, the brilliant singer/songwriter, optimistically acknowledges the failed dreams but adds that at least the boomers showed the path for this generation of kids. This brings me to the truly inspiring, 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She embarked on her journey to the U.,N. climate talks in New York from England by boat, saying, “If you want to travel to America with zero emissions you’ve got to sail the Atlantic Ocean.”

For his next album, Crosby should write a song about Greta, “Bless the Child Who Sees the Light.” I’m sure he wishes, as I do, and as an entire generation does, Peter Fonda, RIP.

Henry Jaglom, who’s directed 21 feature films, is teaching acting classes on Thursdays 6 – 10 p.m. at the Edgemar Theater, (310) 392-0815. Jack is at

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  1. I was one of those hippies who considered “Easy Rider” as THE film of that generation. I’m sorry that I didn’t make it to Woodstock…but it, too, influenced me.

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