Richard Farnsworth

Highest Rated: 100% The Grey Fox (1982)
Lowest Rated: 15% Rhinestone (1984)
Birthday: Sep 1, 1920
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
No one can accuse Richard Farnsworth of taking the easy road to film stardom: by the time he finally got name-above-the-title billing, he was 61 years old, and had been in films for 34 of those years. A veteran Hollywood stunt man, he eventually became a respected actor in his own right, and earned widespread adulation for two outstanding lead performances, first as the veteran train robber released into a changed world in 1982's The Grey Fox and then as the dedicated Alvin Straight in 1999's The Straight Story.Born in Los Angeles on September 1, 1920, Farnsworth was a high-school dropout who became a rodeo rider at the age of 16. When the call went out from MGM for expert horsemen to appear in the Marx Brothers comedy A Day at the Races (1937), Farnsworth was hired as a combination stunt man/extra. The stint was the beginning of a decades-long Hollywood career, over the course of which he did stunt work for many a cowboy star and swashbuckler. For nearly a decade, he was exclusive stunt man/stand-in for Roy Rogers, accepting such occasional outside assignments as Guy Madison's riding double on the 1950s TV Western Wild Bill Hickok (three decades later, Farnsworth would himself impersonate Hickok in the theatrical feature The Legend of the Lone Ranger). Farnsworth's studio years were fairly lucrative; in addition to working with directors ranging from Cecil B. De Mille and Sam Peckinpah, it was not unusual for the stunt man to receive a bigger paycheck than the actors for whom he doubled. In the 1960s, the performer used 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.As he grew older, Farnsworth thought it wise to cut back on the athletics and to seek out speaking roles. By 1976, he was working as a full-time actor, his weather-beaten countenance and self-assuredness enlivening many an otherwise "flat" scene. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting appearance as Dodger in Comes a Horseman (1978); the star of that film was Jane Fonda, whose father, Henry, had been doubled by Farnsworth in The Tin Star (1957). In 1982, Farnsworth won Canada's Genie Award for his starring role as an elderly, elegant bank robber in The Grey Fox. On two occasions -- the 1984 baseball flick The Natural and the 1992 TV series Boys of Twilight -- the actor co-starred with another venerable stunt man-cum-character actor, Wilford Brimley. Farnsworth continued to craft a career not unlike Brimley's, making small but memorable supporting appearances in many A-list Hollywood productions, including Misery and Havana (both 1990).Farnsworth had been living in semi-retirement on his New Mexico ranch for most of the 1990s when he received a call from director David Lynch to star in The Straight Story, the real-life tale of an elderly widower who drives a tractor from his Iowa home to the Wisconsin bedside of his estranged, gravely ill brother (Harry Dean Stanton). The film received a warm reception, much of which was directed at the septuagenarian's understated, plainspoken performance. Honored with a Golden Globe nomination and an Independent Spirit Award for his work, Farnsworth would also receive a Best Actor nod at the 2000 Academy Awards -- becoming the oldest person to be nominated for the award. Though stricken with terminal bone cancer, Farnsworth continued to make public appearances -- at film festivals, award ceremonies, and even the National Cowboy Symposium -- until the debilitating disease caused him to take his own life at his New Mexico home in October 2000. The actor's namesake, Richard "Diamond" Farnsworth, continued his father's legacy by becoming a Hollywood stunt man.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
96% The Straight Story Alvin Straight 1999
50% Rooster Cogburn Rooster's deputy 1999
88% Lassie Len Collins 1994
33% The Getaway Slim 1994
No Score Yet The Fire Next Time Frank Morgan 1993
No Score Yet Highway to Hell Sam 1991
89% Misery Sheriff Buster 1990
68% The Two Jakes Earl Rawley 1990
28% Havana Professor 1990
No Score Yet Snake Treaty Actor 1989
No Score Yet Desperado: The Outlaw Wars Sheriff Campbell 1989
No Score Yet Witchery Actor 1988
No Score Yet Buckaroo Bard Actor 1988
No Score Yet Space Rage The Colonel 1986
No Score Yet Sylvester Foster 1985
38% Into the Night Jack Caper 1985
No Score Yet Anne of Green Gables Matthew Cuthbert 1985
No Score Yet Falling for the Stars Actor 1985
No Score Yet Chase Judge Grant Pettit 1985
15% Rhinestone Noah 1984
82% The Natural Red Blow 1984
No Score Yet Wild Horses Reese 1984
No Score Yet Independence Day Evan 1983
100% The Grey Fox Bill Miner 1982
No Score Yet Waltz Across Texas Producer Frank Walker 1982
No Score Yet The Legend of the Lone Ranger Wild Bill Hickok 1981
No Score Yet Ruckus Sheriff Jethro Pough 1980
No Score Yet Resurrection Esco 1980
No Score Yet Tom Horn John C. Coble 1980
86% Comes a Horseman Dodger 1978
80% Another Man, Another Chance Actor 1977
20% The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox Stage Coach Driver 1976
No Score Yet Strange New World Actor 1975
No Score Yet The Soul of Nigger Charley Walker 1973
75% The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Outlaw 1972
67% Pocket Money Man 1972
75% The Cowboys Henry Williams 1972
86% Ulzana's Raid Trooper 1972
100% Monte Walsh Cowboy 1970
No Score Yet Texas Across the River Medicine Man 1966
No Score Yet Duel at Diablo 1st Wagon Driver 1966
No Score Yet The River Pirate Percy 1928

TV

CREDIT
No Score Yet The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
1992-2014
Guest
  • 2000
No Score Yet Highway to Heaven
1984-1989
Gramps
  • 1987
No Score Yet Little House on the Prairie
1974-1984
Wall
  • 1977
No Score Yet Bonanza
1959-1973
Tate Sourdough Troy
  • 1972
  • 1971

QUOTES FROM Richard Farnsworth CHARACTERS