RICHARD FARNSWORTH Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Richard Farnsworth                                                                 
Born: 1 September 1920 Los Angeles, California                                           
Died: 6 October 2000 Lincoln, New Mexico                                                 
Richard W. Farnsworth (September 1, 1920-October 6, 2000) was an American actor.         
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 had been working as a stable hand at a polo field in           
Los Angeles for $6 a week.                                                               
When he was offered a chance to make $7 a day plus a box lunch, he started his           
career as a stuntman. When he was seventeen, he started by riding horses in               
films in 1937, in The Adventures of Marco Polo with Gary Cooper. He performed in         
several horse-riding stunts in such films as the Marx Brothers' A Day at the             
Races and Gunga Din. What differentiated Farnsworth from other western actors             
was his gradual step into acting from stunt work. He received his first credit           
as "Dick Farnsworth" in Texas Across the River in 1966.                                   
Farnsworth's acting career was largely in Western films, although he did appear           
in the television miniseries Roots. In 1985, he appeared in the Canadian                 
miniseries Anne of Green Gables, winning a Gemini Award for his performance as           
Matthew Cuthbert. He also won a Genie Award in 1983 for his performance as               
stagecoach robber Bill Miner in the Canadian film The Grey Fox. Another of his           
prominent roles was as a suspicious sheriff in the film version of Stephen King's         
Misery. He was on the set of Spartacus for eleven months. He laughed when he             
said he did not look like a gladiator, but that's what he did, drive the                 
In 1979, Farnsworth was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting               
Actor for Comes a Horseman, and in 1999 he was nominated 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           
and told him that Lynch was the director who made The Elephant Man. Fortunately,         
he liked this movie, even though it had been made 20 years prior. When                   
Farnsworth and Lynch spoke, he again reiterated his dislikes. Lynch reassured             
him there would be none of that in this 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.                                     
Farnsworth was married to Margaret "Maggie" Hill for 38 years. She is the mother         
of his two children, Diamond and Missy. She passed away 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 sixty-acre ranch, and moved after his wife's death. Farnsworth was the                 
spokesperson for the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium, an annual event in Ruidoso,         
NM. 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 passing, 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 90s. By             
1999, he had been diagnosed as having terminal bone cancer. He made the movie             
The Straight Story while in considerable pain.                                           
Farnsworth no longer able to bear the physical pain of the disease shot himself           
with a single bullet at his ranch in Lincoln, New Mexico. He is interred with             
his wife Margaret in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles,