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Henry Fonda as Supporting Roles: 7 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor

Image: Henry Fonda as Supporting Roles: 7 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor
Henry Fonda appears on the CBS television show "Toast of the Town" on August 2, 1953. (CBS/Landov, file)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 Mar 2015 09:24 PM

Henry Fonda was the leading man in many films during his 50-year acting career, and is especially well known for his roles in “The Grapes of Wrath” and “On Golden Pond.” There were some roles, though, in which Henry Fonda was a supporting actor, sharing the spotlight with other great American actors such as John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Jimmy Stewart.

Take a look at this list of Henry Fonda supporting roles, in no particular order.

1. “There Was a Crooked Man” (1970)

Henry Fonda plays Sheriff Woodward Lopeman in this black-comic Western, sharing the screen with Kirk Douglas, who played an outlaw. The all-star cast included Arthur O’Connell and Martin Gabel.

2. “Firecreek” (1968)

Henry Fonda teams up with good friend Jimmy Stewart as a supporting actor in this Western. Fonda plays a villain to Stewart’s good guy role as a former lawman who steps up to protect his town when no one else does.

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3. “Fort Apache” (1948)

In this supporting actor role, Fonda is Lt. Col. Owen Thursday, a veteran of the Civil War, who has a chip on his shoulder. He wields strict authority on Fort Apache and a bloodthirsty desire to fight local Indians. John Wayne is Captain Kirby York who attempts to keep peace.

4. “How the West Was Won” (1962)

There were plenty of stars in this Western movie — Henry Fonda was a supporting member of a cast that included Karl Malden, Agnes Moorehead, Debbie Reynolds, Gregory Peck, and George Peppard. Three families travel from the Erie Canal to California over a span of 50 years. Spencer Tracy narrates the film.

5. “Spencer’s Mountain” (1963)

In the movie that would lead to “The Waltons” TV series, Henry Fonda is husband to Maureen O’Hara and father to a large brood. The independent, rowdy, and loving family includes James MacArthur as Clayboy, the eldest son who plans to be the first Spencer to attend college.

6. “The Cheyenne Social Club” (1970)

In another supporting acting role with Jimmy Stewart, Fonda is Harley O’Sullivan and buddy to John O’Hanlan, played by Stewart, who has inherited a piece of property, The Cheyenne Social Club. The pair travel to Wyoming only to discover the club is a brothel with Madame Jenny (Shirley Jones) in charge.

7. “Yours, Mine and Ours” (1968)

Henry Fonda shared the camera and was supporting actor to Lucille Ball in this comedy, which was based on a true marriage. Ball is widow Helen North, a mother of eight children, who falls in love with and marries Naval Officer Frank Beardsley, a widower who has 10 children. As the family struggles to adjust during this zany comedy, Helen becomes pregnant, explaining the “ours” part of the movie title.

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Henry Fonda was the leading man in many films during his 50-year acting career. There were some roles, though, in which Henry Fonda was a supporting actor, sharing the spotlight with other great American actors such as John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Jimmy Stewart.
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