Richard Farnsworth … Western Icon

11 Sep

Laurens Walking – from Soundtrack of The Straight Story

Richard Farnsworth

Richard Farnsworth / 1920 – 2000

– IMDB Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net> (qv’s & corrections by A. Nonymous)

An American stuntman who, after more than 30 years in the business, moved into acting and became an acclaimed and respected character actor, Richard Farnsworth was a native of Los Angeles. He grew up around horses and as a teenager was offered an opportunity to ride in films. He appeared in horse-racing scenes and cavalry charges unbilled, first as a general rider and later as a stuntman. His riding and stunting skills gained him regular work doubling stars ranging from Roy Rogers to Gary Cooper, and he often doubled the bad guy as well. Although. like most stuntmen, he was occasionally given a line or two of dialogue, it was not until Farnsworth was over 50 that his natural talent for acting and his ease and warmth before the camera became apparent. When he won an Academy Award nomination for his role in Comes a Horseman (1978), it came as a surprise to many in the industry that this “newcomer” had been around since the 1930s. Farnsworth followed his Oscar nomination with a number of finely wrought performances, including The Grey Fox (1982) and The Natural (1984). In 1999 he came out of semi-retirement for a tour-de-force portrayal in The Straight Story (1999).

Richard Farnsworth Trivia (IMDB)

Was a stunt man for 40 years before becoming an actor.

He was 43 years old when he received his first acting credit.

Doubled for Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Montgomery Clift, Steve McQueen and Roy Rogers ….

Co-founder of Stuntmen’s Association in 1961 using his considerable clout in his field to co-create the Stuntman’s Association, a group which would fight to safeguard the rights and working conditions of the men and women who risked life and limb for Hollywood.

Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1997.

Shortly before his death, when asked by film critic Roger Ebert what he was most proud of in regard to his acting career, he replied that it was the fact that in over 60 movies he never says one cuss word.

Billy Crystal singled out Farnsworth at the 72nd Academy Awards telling everyone it was “great to see him, and his nomination was a great story.”

Is the oldest ever person to receive a Best Actor Oscar Nomination (79 at the time).

Richard Farnsworth - Award

Richard Farnsworth 11

Tragic End / Richard Farnsworth Suicide

BY STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN 07/16/1998
“The Straight Story” Oscar nominee Richard Farnsworth, 80, shot and killed himself on Friday. The actor reportedly had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and earlier this year underwent hip replacement surgery, which left him partially paralyzed and unable to walk. Police said Farnsworth was found dead at the home near Lincoln, N.M., that he shared with his fiancee, Jewel Van Valin. He apparently left behind a suicide note, though police have not disclosed its contents. “This was an obvious self-inflicted gunshot,” Sheriff Tom Sullivan told reporters. This year, at the age of 79, Farnsworth was the oldest best actor nominee in Academy history for his role as Alvin Straight, a senior citizen who drove his lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his ailing brother. Farnsworth’s previous Oscar nomination was for the 1982 Canadian film, “The Grey Fox.” The weathered-looking actor with the arresting blue eyes, who began his career as a stunt-riding double for Roy Rogers and Henry Fonda, also appeared in “The Natural,” with Robert Redford, and “Comes a Horseman,” with Jane Fonda, among other movies.


Coming up: Richard Farmsworth Western Filmography …

Richard Farnsworth Movies

4 Responses to “Richard Farnsworth … Western Icon”

  1. Rick September 11, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Jim Beaver, who wrote the article, starred on Deadwood and Justified. He is also an expert on the life of George Reeves.

  2. jcalberta September 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Thank you very kindly Rick for this information.

  3. Marilyn Armstrong September 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Farnsworth had a wonderful face. He looked like no one but himself.

    • jcalberta September 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      You’re right. To me it seems like Farnsworth never really acted – he played himself. Therefore he never played a bad guy. Even the Grey Fox wasn’t evil – though a crook. He reminds me of Gary Cooper quite a bit.

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