Richard Farnsworth
Farnsworth in The Straight Story, his final role
Richard William Farnsworth

(1920-09-01)September 1, 1920
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedOctober 6, 2000(2000-10-06) (aged 80)
Occupation(s)Stuntman, actor
Years active1937–1999
Margaret Hill
(m. 1947; died 1985)

Richard William Farnsworth (September 1, 1920 – October 6, 2000) was an American actor and stuntman. He was twice nominated for an Academy Award: in 1978 for Best Supporting Actor for Comes a Horseman, and in 2000 for Best Actor in The Straight Story, making him the oldest nominee for the award at the time.[1][2] Farnsworth was also known for his performances in The Grey Fox (1982), for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, as well as Anne of Green Gables (1985); Sylvester (1985), and Misery (1990).

Early life

Farnsworth was born on September 1, 1920, in Los Angeles, California. His mother was a homemaker and his father was an engineer.[3]


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). In 1960, credited as Dick Farnsworth, he appeared as a Gault ranch hand in the "Street of Hate" episode of the TV Western Laramie.

He received his first acting credit in 1963 and went on to act in Western films and television shows. He had a role in Roots (1977) and co-starred with Wilford Brimley in The Boys of Twilight (1992). 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 and starred as a soft-spoken, sage cowboy with horse training wisdom for Melissa Gilbert in Sylvester.[4] His other prominent roles included a wealthy and ruthless oil man in The Two Jakes (1990) and the suspicious sheriff in the film version of Stephen King's Misery (1990).

Personal life and death

Farnsworth had a long marriage and had two children. After becoming a widower, he lived on a ranch in Lincoln, New Mexico.[5]

On the night of October 6, 2000, suffering from terminal cancer that left him partially paralyzed and in great pain, Farnsworth died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his ranch in Lincoln, New Mexico.[6]

Awards and nominations

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Comes a Horseman (1979)

The Grey Fox (1982)

Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Chase (1985)

The Straight Story (1999)

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 August 17, 1992; the star is located at 1560 Vine Street.[7][8]


Year Title Role Notes
1937 A Day at the Races Jockey Uncredited
1938 The Adventures of Marco Polo Mongol Warrior
1939 Gunga Din Bit Part
Gone with the Wind Soldier
1943 This Is the Army Soldier
1948 Red River Dunston Rider
The Paleface Minor Role
1949 Mighty Joe Young Cowboy
1950 The Flame and the Arrow Outlaw
1953 Arena Cowboy
Arrowhead Cavalryman
The Wild One Unknown
1954 The Violent Men Anchor Rider
1955 A Lawless Street Townsman
1956 The Ten Commandments Chariot Driver
1957 The Tin Star Unknown
The Hard Man Posse Man
1960 Spartacus Salt Mine Slave / Gladiator / Slave General
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 Unknown Uncredited
1970 Monte Walsh Cowboy
1971 Skin Game Man In Saloon Fight Uncredited
1972 The Cowboys Henry Williams
Pocket Money Man Uncredited
Ulzana's Raid Trooper
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Outlaw
1973 The Soul of Nigger Charley
Papillon Manhunter #1 Uncredited
1974 Blazing Saddles Sheriff
1975 The Apple Dumpling Gang Mover
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
1980 Tom Horn John C. Coble
Ruckus Sheriff Jethro Pough
Resurrection Esco
1981 The Legend of the Lone Ranger 'Wild Bill' Hickok
1982 The Grey Fox Bill Miner
Waltz Across Texas Frank Walker
1983 Independence Day Evan
1984 The Natural 'Red' Blow
Rhinestone Noah Farris
1985 Into the Night Jack Caper
Sylvester Foster
Space Rage Colonel
1988 The River Pirates Percy
1990 The Two Jakes Earl Rawley
Misery Sheriff Buster
Havana Professor
1991 Highway to Hell Sam
1994 The Getaway 'Slim'
Lassie Len Collins
1999 The Straight Story Alvin Straight final film


Year Title Role Notes
1951 The Adventures of Kit Carson Henchman (uncredited) Episode: "Fury at Red Gulch"
Episode: "The Desperate Sheriff"
1954 Army Wagon Driver Episode: "The Gatling Gun"
1955 Soldiers of Fortune 'Gaucho' (uncredited) Episode: "The General"
1956 Zane Grey Theatre 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 / Hal Episodes: "The Partners" & "To the Victor"
Laramie Gault Ranch Hand / Manley (uncredited) Episodes: "Street of Hate" & "Ride into Darkness"
1961 Laramie Hank Episode: "The Tumbleweed Wagon"
1965 The Big Valley Bolin Episode: "The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner"
1966 Businessman Episode: "Image of Yesterday"
1967 Cimarron Strip Dusty Rhodes / Benefiel Episodes: "Journey to a Hanging" & "The Battleground"
1970 The High Chaparral Lloyd Episode: "The Long Shadow"
1971 Bonanza Sourdough Episode: "Top Hand"
1972 Tate / Troy Episodes: "The Saddle Stiff" & "He Was Only Seven"
1974 Honky Tonk Driver TV movie
1975 Strange New World Elder
1977 Roots Trumbull TV miniseries
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
The Cherokee Trail Ridge Fenton
1983 Travis McGee Van Harder
Ghost Dancing Russ Ward
1985 Wild Horses Chuck Reese
Chase Judge Grand Pettitt
Anne of Green Gables Matthew Cuthbert
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
1992 The Boys of Twilight Sheriff Cody McPherson
1993 The Fire Next Time Frank Morgan TV movie
1998 Best Friends for Life Will Harper


  1. ^ Associated Press (October 8, 2000). "Richard Farnsworth, Stunt Man And 2-Time Oscar Nominee, 80". The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  2. ^ "Richard Farnsworth, 80, Dies". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  3. ^ An L.M Montgomery Resource Page. "Richard Farnsworth". Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Tibbetts, John C. (September 15, 2015). Those Who Made It: Speaking with the Legends of Hollywood. Springer. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-137-54191-8.
  5. ^ Jensen, Jeff (October 20, 2000). "A Cowboy's Way". Entertainment Weekly.
  6. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (July 16, 1998). "Richard Farnsworth: Suicide". People. Archived from the original on December 13, 2009.
  7. ^ "Richard Farnsworth | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  8. ^ "Richard Farnsworth". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 23, 2016.

Further reading