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Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story
September 1, 1920|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||October 6, 2000
Lincoln, New Mexico, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Residence||Lincoln, New Mexico|
|Known for||The Grey Fox,
The Straight Story,
|Home town||Los Angeles|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Hill (1947–85) (her death) 2 children|
|Children||Diamond Farnsworth (b. 1949)
Richard W. Farnsworth (September 1, 1920 – October 6, 2000) was an American actor and stuntman. His film career began in 1937; however, he achieved his greatest success for his performances in The Grey Fox (1982) and The Straight Story (1999), for which he received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Early life 
Farnsworth was born in Los Angeles, California, to a housewife mother and an engineer father. He was raised during the Great Depression. He lived with his aunt, mother, and two sisters in downtown Los Angeles after his father died when he was seven years old.
He was working as a stable hand at a polo field in Los Angeles for six dollars a week when he was offered a chance to make seven dollars a day plus a box lunch as a stuntman. In 1937, when he was sixteen, he started by riding horses in films such as The Adventures of Marco Polo with Gary Cooper. He performed several horse-riding stunts in such films as the Marx Brothers' A Day at the Races (1937) and Gunga Din (1939).
What differentiated Farnsworth from other western actors was his gradual transition into acting from stunt work. He made uncredited appearances in numerous films, including Gone with the Wind (1939), Red River (1948), The Wild One (1953), and The Ten Commandments (1956). He was on the set of Spartacus (1960) for eleven months. He laughed when he said he did not look like a gladiator but drove a chariot. However, it was not until 1963 that he finally received his first acting credit.
Farnsworth's acting career was largely in western films, although he did appear in the 1977 television miniseries Roots and the short-lived but critically acclaimed 1992 summer replacement The Boys of Twilight. He also appeared in television commercials. Farnsworth became well known in the Pacific Northwest for portraying the groundskeeper who saw the mythical "Artesians" in the 1980s Olympia Beer ad campaign. In 1979, Farnsworth was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Comes a Horseman. However, his breakthrough came when he played stagecoach robber Bill Miner in the 1982 Canadian film The Grey Fox, for which he won a Genie Award.
In 1985, he appeared in the Canadian miniseries Anne of Green Gables, winning a Gemini Award for his performance as Matthew Cuthbert. Another of his prominent roles was as a suspicious sheriff in the film version of Stephen King's Misery (1990). He also appeared as a baseball coach in The Natural in 1984.
In 1999, Farnsworth was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for The Straight Story. When David Lynch asked to see if he wanted to be in the simple but emotional movie The Straight Story, Farnsworth had no idea who he was. Farnsworth did not like violence or swearing, and so his agent was very careful to tell him that Lynch was the director who had made The Elephant Man. Fortunately, he liked this movie. When Farnsworth and Lynch met, he reiterated his dislikes. Lynch reassured him that there would be none of that in the movie. The role, a rarity for a man his age, showed Hollywood that "there's a lot of talent out there."
Farnsworth has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street. In 1997, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Personal life and death 
Farnsworth was married to Margaret "Maggie" Hill for 38 years. She was the mother of his two children, Diamond and Missy. She died in 1985. Toward the end of his life, he met Jewly Van Valin on the bridle trail, a stewardess 35 years his junior. Farnsworth and Van Valin started riding together and were engaged. He was well liked and busy in his community of Lincoln, New Mexico, where he had a 60-acre (240,000 m2) ranch and moved after his wife's death.
Farnsworth was the spokesman for the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium, an annual event in Ruidoso, New Mexico. He made a video with cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell called Buckaroo Bard. He also helped with the 'Last Great Cattle Drive of This Millennium' in 1999. Shortly before his death, he was presented with an award from the Governor of New Mexico for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts.
Farnsworth was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in the early 1990s. By 1999, he had been diagnosed as having terminal bone cancer. He made the movie The Straight Story while in considerable pain. Not wanting to live his life in pain, Farnsworth committed suicide by shooting himself at his ranch in Lincoln, New Mexico. He is interred with his wife Margaret in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
|1951||The Adventures of Kit Carson||Henchman (uncredited)||Episode: "Fury at Red Gulch"
Episode: "The Desperate Sheriff"
|1954||The Adventures of Kit Carson||Army Wagon Driver||Episode: "The Gatling Gun"|
|1955||Soldiers of Fortune||Gaucho (uncredited)||Episode: "The General"|
|1956||Zane Grey Theater||Trooper||Episode: "Star Over Texas"|
|1958||Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok||Butler||Episode: "Jingles on the Jailroad"|
|1958||Cimarron City||Ira Youngman (uncredited)||Episode: "Twelve Guns"|
|1959||State Trooper||Caleb Smith||Episode: "Lonely Valley"|
|1959||The Rebel||Trooper||Episode: "Yellow Hair"|
|1960||Wanted: Dead or Alive||Rance
|Episode: "The Partners"
Episode: "To the Victor"
|1960||Laramie||Gault Ranch Hand
|Episode: "Street of Hate"
Episode: "Ride into Darkness"
|1961||Laramie||Hank||Episode: "The Tumbleweed Wagon"|
|1965||The Big Valley||Bolin||Episode: "The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner"|
|1966||The Big Valley||Businessman||Episode: "Image of Yesterday"|
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Dusty Rhodes
|Episode: "Journey to a Hanging"
Episode: "The Battleground"
|1970||The High Chaparral||Lloyd||Episode: "The Long Shadow"|
|1971||Bonanza||Sourdough||Episode: "Top Hand"|
|Episode: "The Saddle Stiff"
Episode: "He Was Only Seven"
|1974||Honky Tonk||Driver||TV movie|
|1975||Strange New World||Elder||TV movie|
|1977||Roots||Slave Catcher||TV miniseries|
|1977||Little House on the Prairie||Wall||Episode: "Quarantine"|
|1981||The Texas Rangers||Ranger J.W. Stevens||TV movie|
|1981||A Few Days in Weasel Creek||Jason Stayvey||TV movie|
|1981||The Cherokee Trail||Ridge Fenton||TV movie|
|1983||Travis McGee||Van Harder||TV movie|
|1983||Ghost Dancing||Russ Ward||TV movie|
|1985||Wild Horses||Chuck Reese||TV movie|
|1985||Chase||Judge Grand Pettitt||TV movie
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
|1985||Anne of Green Gables||Matthew Cuthbert||TV movie
Gemini Award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor
|1987||CBS Summer Playhouse||Carl||Episode: "Travelin' Man"|
|1987||Highway to Heaven||Grandpa Jet Sanders||Episode: "A Dream of Wild Horses"|
|1989||Red Earth, White Earth||Helmer||TV movie|
|1989||Desperado: The Outlaw Wars||Sheriff Campbell, Bisby Arizona||TV movie|
|1992||The Boys of Twilight||Cody McPherson||TV series|
|1993||The Fire Next Time||Frank Morgan||TV movie|
|1998||Best Friends for Life||Will Harper||TV movie|
- "Richard Farnsworth". The Times. October 9, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
- "Richard Farnsworth, Stunt Man And 2-Time Oscar Nominee, 80". The New York Times. October 8, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
- "Actor Richard Farnsworth dies". BBC News. October 7, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
- Richard Farnsworth at the Internet Movie Database
- Richard Farnsworth at AllRovi
- Richard Farnsworth at Find a Grave
- Richard Farnsworth at NNDB
- Richard Farnsworth: The Man Who Talked Straight at Moviecrazed.com
- The Cowboy Kind Farnsworth wrote the foreword to this book by Darrell Arnold. Published posthumously in 2001.
- 1999 Disney Press Kit For The Straight Story with publicity photos
- 1998 Des Moines Register Article
- The Straight Story on Lynch Net Complete Film notes, interviews, photographs, audio and trailers 1999
- Obituary Cowboy's Way by Jeff Jensen, 2000