“Easy Rider” star PETER FONDA died Friday of respiratory failure due to lung cancer.  He was 79 years old.

Peter was the son of HENRY FONDA, the younger brother of JANE FONDA, and the father of BRIDGET FONDA.

His family issued a statement saying, quote, “While we mourn the loss of this sweet and gracious man, we also wish for all to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life.  In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”

And Jane issued her own statement, saying, quote, “I am very sad.  He was my sweet-hearted baby brother.  The talker of the family.  I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days.  He went out laughing.”

Fonda received an Oscar nomination for co-writing “Easy Rider”, and he produced it for about $384,000.  It was directed by his co-star DENNIS HOPPER.  It was a huge counterculture sensation when it was released in 1969.

Almost 30 years later, he was nominated for another Oscar, this time for his acting in the 1997 movie “Ulee’s Gold”.

Prior to “Easy Rider”, Fonda starred in two other films that centered on youth and biker culture:  “The Wild Angels” in 1966, and “The Trip” in 1967.  “The Trip” also co-starred Hopper, and was written by JACK NICHOLSON, who was also in “Easy Rider”.

Fonda’s other films included “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry”“Race with the Devil”, and “The Cannonball Run”.