NOT FOND OF FONDA

Ken Hoffman relives his costly celebrity gambling fail

Ken Hoffman relives his costly celebrity gambling fail
Photo via: Peter Fonda/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Actor Peter Fonda, co-writer and star of the groundbreaking counterculture film Easy Rider, died last week. He was 79.

Here's my Peter Fonda story and the night I took the worst gambling "bad beat" of my life.

In 1998, Fonda was nominated for a movie called Ulee's Gold. I never saw this movie, I still have no idea what it's about, but I kept hearing about Fonda racking up important acting awards:

Golden Globes: "Best Performance by and Actor in a Motion Picture."

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics: "Best Actor."

National Society of Film Critics: "Best Actor."New York Film Critics: "Best Actor."

Society of Texas Film Critics: "Best Actor."

On and on, Fonda was sweeping every acting award in sight for Ulee's Gold.

Fond of Fonda in Vegas

Around that time, I checked the Las Vegas odds for the upcoming Academy Awards. Internet gambling was starting to hit big and I happened to have an account with an Irish bookmaking site.

The nominees for Best Actor were: Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting, Jack Nicholson for As Good as it Gets, Dustin Hoffman for Wag the Dog, Robert Duvall for The Apostle, and Peter Fonda for Ulee's Gold.

I thought for sure that Fonda would be the overwhelming favorite to win the Oscar. After all, he was sweeping all the acting awards in the runup to the Academy Awards. But whoa, Fonda was only the third choice among the Vegas oddsmakers at 8-1.

Easy Rider; easy money

Are you kidding? This is the lock of the millennium. I was going to load up on Peter Fonda to win Best Actor. Easy money. A printing press. A key to Fort Knox.

But first … I'm in the media and I used to sit two desks over from Joe Leydon at the old Houston Post. Joe absolutely lived and breathed movies. These days he teaches film studies at UH and HCC and reviews movies for Variety. I trusted his knowledge of the industry. I called Joe and asked him, "Who's going to win Best Actor at the Oscars?" Like every other film critic in America, he was all over Peter Fonda's performance in Ulee's Gold. I double asked him, "Are you sure?"

Continue on CultureMap to learn how Peter Fonda inspired a Beatles song and more.

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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