22 August 1982
Los Angeles Times
The Death of Henry Fonda
In all of the tributes to the great Henry Fonda. a lot of words were used trying to explain one central truth about his screen characterizattions: his essence was one of gentle, tender masculinity that had no need to prove itself through macho excesses. He showed us "human" while most other actors seem only capable of "virile."
I hope the "new faces" who seem to have this quality (e.g. Robby Benson, Matt Dillon) can maintain their integrity playing vulnerable, caring men, because if they can it might indicate to a new generation that there is more to being a man than bulging muscles, sexual prowess and bravado.
Humility, simplicity, inner determination without fanfare and more are supremely masculine attributes because they are supremely human, for both sexes, for all walks of life. Thanks to Henry Fonda we have lasting, visible proof that humaness is something more than many of us thought.