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 following a long illness 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).
Comes a Horseman (1979)
The Grey Fox (1982)
Anne of Green Gables (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 1560 Vine Street on August 17, 1992.
|1937||Day at the Races, AA Day at the Races||Jockey||Uncredited|
|1938||Adventures of Marco Polo, TheThe 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|
|Paleface, TheThe Paleface||Minor Role||Uncredited|
|1949||Mighty Joe Young||Cowboy||Uncredited|
|1950||The Flame and the Arrow||Outlaw||Uncredited|
|Wild One, TheThe Wild One||Uncredited|
|1954||Violent Men, TheThe Violent Men||Anchor Rider||Uncredited|
|1955||A Lawless Street||Townsman||Uncredited|
|1956||Ten Commandments, TheThe Ten Commandments||Chariot Driver||Uncredited|
|1957||Tin Star, TheThe Tin Star||Uncredited|
|The Hard Man||Posse Man||Uncredited|
|1960||Spartacus||Salt Mine Slave / Gladiator / Slave General||Uncredited|
|1963||Jolly Genie, TheThe Jolly Genie||Thug||Short film|
|1966||Duel at Diablo||Wagon Driver #1||Uncredited|
|Texas Across the River||Medicine Man|
|1968||Stalking Moon, TheThe Stalking Moon||Uncredited|
|1971||Skin Game||Man in Saloon fight||Uncredited|
|1972||Cowboys, TheThe Cowboys||Henry Williams|
|Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, TheThe Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean||Outlaw|
|1973||Soul of Nigger Charley, TheThe Soul of Nigger Charley||Walker|
|1975||Apple Dumpling Gang, TheThe Apple Dumpling Gang||Mover||Uncredited|
|1976||Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, TheThe Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox||Stagecoach Driver|
|Outlaw Josey Wales, TheThe 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||Legend of the Lone Ranger, TheThe Legend of the Lone Ranger||Wild Bill Hickok|
|1982||Grey Fox, TheThe Grey Fox||Bill Miner||see awards list|
|Waltz Across Texas||Frank Walker|
|1984||Natural, TheThe Natural||Red Blow|
|1985||Into the Night||Jack Caper|
|1988||River Pirates, TheThe River Pirates||Percy|
|1990||Two Jakes, TheThe Two Jakes||Earl Rawley|
|1991||Highway to Hell||Sam|
|1994||Getaway, TheThe Getaway||Slim|
|1999||Straight Story, TheThe Straight Story||Alvin Straight||see awards list, (final film role)|
|1951||Adventures of Kit Carson, TheThe Adventures of Kit Carson||Henchman (uncredited)||Episode: "Fury at Red Gulch"
Episode: "The Desperate Sheriff"
|1954||Adventures of Kit Carson, TheThe 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"|
|Rebel, TheThe 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||Big Valley, TheThe Big Valley||Bolin||Episode: "The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner"|
|1966||Big Valley, TheThe Big Valley||Businessman||Episode: "Image of Yesterday"|
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Dusty Rhodes
|Episode: "Journey to a Hanging"
Episode: "The Battleground"
|1970||High Chaparral, TheThe 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|
|1977||Roots||Slave Catcher||TV Miniseries|
|Little House on the Prairie||Wall||Episode: "Quarantine"|
|1981||Texas Rangers, TheThe Texas Rangers||Ranger J.W. Stevens||TV Movie|
|Few Days in Weasel Creek, AA Few Days in Weasel Creek||Jason Stayvey||TV Movie|
|Cherokee Trail, TheThe 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||Boys of Twilight, TheThe Boys of Twilight||Cody McPherson||TV Series|
|1993||Fire Next Time, TheThe Fire Next Time||Frank Morgan||TV Movie|
|1998||Best Friends for Life||Will Harper||TV Movie|