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Farnsworth in The Straight Story, his final role
Richard William Farnsworth|
September 1, 1920
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
October 6, 2000 (aged 80)|
Lincoln, New Mexico, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide by gunshot|
Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)|
|Home town||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
(m. 1947; her death 1985)
Richard William Farnsworth (September 1, 1920 – October 6, 2000) was an American actor and stuntman. He is best known for his performances in The Grey Fox (1982), for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination, Anne of Green Gables (1985), Misery (1990), and The Straight Story (1999), for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He died by suicide following a long battle with prostate cancer.
Farnsworth was born on September 1, 1920 in Los Angeles, California, to a housewife mother and an engineer father. He was raised during the Great Depression. When he was seven, Farnsworth's father died. He then lived with his aunt, mother, and two sisters in Downtown Los Angeles.
Farnsworth had a long marriage and had two children. After becoming a widower, he lived on a ranch in Lincoln, New Mexico.
In 1937, age 16, Farnsworth was working as a stable hand at a polo field in Los Angeles for six dollars a week when he was offered employment with better pay as a stuntman. He rode horses in films such as The Adventures of Marco Polo featuring Gary Cooper and performed horse-riding stunts in films including A Day at the Races (1937) and Gunga Din (1939). Farnsworth was employed on the set of Spartacus (1960) for eleven months where he drove a chariot.
From stunt work, Farnsworth gradually moved into acting in Western movies. 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).
Farnsworth received his first acting credit in 1963 and went on to act in western films and also television shows. He had a role in Roots (1977). In 1992, he co-starred with Wilford Brimley in The Boys of Twilight. His breakthrough came when he played stagecoach robber Bill Miner in the 1982 Canadian film The Grey Fox. He appeared as a baseball coach in The Natural (1984). In 1985 he was the brother to Marilla and father figure to Anne in Anne of Green Gables. Another prominent role was the suspicious sheriff in the film version of Stephen King's Misery (1990).
On October 6, 2000, after a long illness with metastatic prostate cancer, Farnsworth committed suicide by shooting himself at his ranch. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles in the Columbarium of Purity (N-63294) beside his wife, Margaret née Hill (1919–1985).
Awards and nominations
Comes a Horseman (1979)
- National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor (won)
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor (won) (tied with Robert Morley in Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?)
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (nominated)
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor (runner-up)
The Grey Fox (1982)
- Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor (won)
- London Film Critics' Circle Award for Actor of the Year (won) (tied with James Mason in The Shooting Party)
- Taormina Film Fest: Golden Mask (won)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (nominated)
Anne of Green Gables (1985)
- Gemini Award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (nominated)
The Straight Story (1999)
- Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Award for Best Actor (won)
- Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead (won)
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (won)
- Academy Award for Best Actor (nominated)
- Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (nominated)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (nominated)
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor (nominated)
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (runner-up)
- Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor (nominated)
- Satellite Award for Best Actor Motion Picture – Drama (nominated)
- Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (runner-up)
Note: Farnsworth was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1997. In addition, Farnsworth received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star for his contributions in the motion pictures on 1560 Vine Street on August 17, 1992.
|1937||A Day at the Races||Jockey||Uncredited|
|1938||The Adventures of Marco Polo||Mongol Warrior||Uncredited|
|1939||Gunga Din||Bit Part||Uncredited|
|Gone with the Wind||Soldier||Uncredited|
|1943||This Is the Army||Soldier||Uncredited|
|1948||Red River||Dunston Rider||Uncredited|
|The Paleface||Minor Role||Uncredited|
|1949||Mighty Joe Young||Cowboy||Uncredited|
|1950||The Flame and the Arrow||Outlaw||Uncredited|
|The Wild One||Uncredited|
|1954||The Violent Men||Anchor Rider||Uncredited|
|1955||A Lawless Street||Townsman||Uncredited|
|1956||The Ten Commandments||Chariot Driver||Uncredited|
|1957||The Tin Star||Uncredited|
|The Hard Man||Posse Man||Uncredited|
|1960||Spartacus||Salt Mine Slave / Gladiator / Slave General||Uncredited|
|1963||The Jolly Genie||Thug||Short film|
|1966||Duel at Diablo||Wagon Driver #1||Uncredited|
|Texas Across the River||Medicine Man|
|1968||The Stalking Moon||Uncredited|
|1971||Skin Game||Man in Saloon fight||Uncredited|
|1972||The Cowboys||Henry Williams|
|The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean||Outlaw|
|1973||The Soul of Nigger Charley||Walker|
|1975||The Apple Dumpling Gang||Mover||Uncredited|
|1976||The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox||Stagecoach Driver|
|The Outlaw Josey Wales||Comanchero||Uncredited|
|1977||Another Man, Another Chance||Stagecoach Driver|
|1978||Comes a Horseman||Dodger||See awards list|
|1980||Tom Horn||John C. Coble|
|Ruckus||Sheriff Jethro Pough|
|1981||The Legend of the Lone Ranger||Wild Bill Hickok|
|1982||The Grey Fox||Bill Miner||See awards list|
|Waltz Across Texas||Frank Walker|
|1984||The Natural||Red Blow|
|1985||Into the Night||Jack Caper|
|1988||The River Pirates||Percy|
|1990||The Two Jakes||Earl Rawley|
|1991||Highway to Hell||Sam|
|1999||The Straight Story||Alvin Straight||See awards list; final film role|
|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"|
|Cimarron City||Ira Youngman||Episode: "Twelve Guns", uncredited|
|1959||State Trooper||Caleb Smith||Episode: "Lonely Valley"|
|The Rebel||Trooper||Episode: "Yellow Hair"|
|1960||Wanted: Dead or Alive||Rance
|Episode: "The Partners" |
Episode: "To the Victor"
|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|
|Little House on the Prairie||Wall||Episode: "Quarantine"|
|1981||The Texas Rangers||Ranger J.W. Stevens||TV movie|
|A Few Days in Weasel Creek||Jason Stayvey||TV movie|
|The Cherokee Trail||Ridge Fenton||TV movie|
|1983||Travis McGee||Van Harder||TV movie|
|Ghost Dancing||Russ Ward||TV movie|
|1985||Wild Horses||Chuck Reese||TV movie|
|Chase||Judge Grand Pettitt||TV movie; see awards list|
|Anne of Green Gables||Matthew Cuthbert||TV movie; see awards list|
|1987||CBS Summer Playhouse||Carl||Episode: "Travelin' Man"|
|Highway to Heaven||Grandpa Jet Sanders||Episode: "A Dream of Wild Horses"|
|1989||Red Earth, White Earth||Helmer||TV movie|
|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|
- An L.M Montgomery Resource Page. "Richard Farnsworth". Tickledorange.com. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
- Silverman, Stephen M. (July 16, 1998). "Richard Farnsworth: Suicide". People.
- "Richard Farnsworth | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
- "Richard Farnsworth". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
- "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. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
- Richard Farnsworth on IMDb
- Richard Farnsworth at AllMovie
- 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