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.
The Straight Story
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Best Actor
Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated – 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 (2nd place)
Nominated – 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 (2nd place)
A Small Fraternity / Part 4 Cowboys to Stars
Richard Farnsworth has proven to be well with no bottom.
Incredibly, though Richard Farnsworth film history was somewhat overwhelming, much/most information about his first 37 years in the film industry as Stuntman/Stunt rider/Extra is almost unknown and “uncredited”.
Another amazing feature of Farnsworth’s work is the number of Film Classics he worked in, including Gone with the Wind, Spartacus, The Ten Commandments, Papillon … and several Classsic/Popular Westerns: Red River. Arrowhead, The Outlaw Jose Wales, Monte Walsh. The Cowboys… others.
When I normally do a Filmography on somebody, it’s usually just cover their Westerns. But Farnsworth appeared in so many other notable movies that I felt compelled to post his other work as well – despite scant information.
Another interesting truth arises: many Support Actors / Extras / Stuntmen often participate or appear in more Films that most Movie Stars themselves. They don’t get the Top Bill – or money – but there they are.
Note: these images below are only PART of Farnsworth Film and TV history. I was unable to find several images or posters.
Laurens Walking – from Soundtrack of The Straight Story
Richard Farnsworth / 1920 – 2000
– IMDB Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <email@example.com> (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).
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 …
“In 1901, after 33 years in San Quentin, Bill Miner “The Gentleman Bandit,” was released into the Twentieth Century”
Notice anything funny about the posters above? The image on the right is reversed. Why? I have no idea.
I saw the Grey Fox when it came out in 1982. At the time I recall being underwhelmed. I was hoping for a Western action film, but the Grey Fox didn’t answer my bloodlust. It was more a docu-drama – a Bio Pic on the famous “Gentleman Bandit”, outlaw Billy Miner.
But upon watching it again, my initial feelings were dismissed. It’s a good movie. Probably a movie that should be more appreciated.
Farnsworth has more than enough Star Power to get away with the loot and he seems to have been born for the role of Billy Miner. That’s great casting.
The movie pulls us in quickly and though we know Miner is a crook, Farnsworth’s charm wins us over easily and we’re along for the ride – whatever our fates may be.
When the action picks up, Farnsworth’s soft spoken like-ability is played ‘against type’ where the violent contrast against his usually quiet nature provides dramatic punch.
Movie Info (from Rotten Tomatoes)
Francis Ford Coppola protégé Phillip Borsos directs this elegiac, low-key tale about real-life bandit Bill Miner that has become a classic of Canadian cinema. Having been released from jail in 1901 following a 33-year prison sentence for robbing stagecoaches, Bill Miner (Richard Farnsworth) finds himself living in a society that has completely changed from the one of his youth. He tries to put his life of crime behind him and settle down in Washington state with his sister, but the quiet life does not suit him. He feels restless but uncertain as to how to proceed next. The answer comes to him when he sees Edward S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery. Soon, Miner has slipped over the border into Canada and, along with his new partner, Shorty (Wayne Robson), robs the Canadian Pacific Railway Transcontinental Express. Later, while laying low after the crime in a remote corner of British Columbia, he meets the beautiful, strong-willed photographer Kate Flynn (Jackie Burroughs). In writing this script, Borsos reportedly made heavy use of contemporary court documents and testimonies. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival in honor of its 20th anniversary. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
PG, 1 hr. 30 min. / Directed By: Phillip Borsos / United Artists
Storyline (IMDB) Old West highwayman Bill Miner, known to Pinkertons as “The Gentleman Bandit,” is released in 1901 after 33 years in prison, a genial and charming old man. He goes to Washington to live and work with his sister’s family. But the world has changed much while he has been away, and he just can’t adjust. So he goes to Canada and returns to the only thing familiar to him — robbery (with stagecoaches changed to trains). – Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The End of the line
The Grey Fox exits with a bit of a fairy tale ending with Bill riding (or rowing) off into the sunset, but sadly (historically) Miner died in in a Georgia, US prison in 1912.