Richard Farnsworth Biography

Richard Farnsworth photo

Born: September 01, 1920


Date of Birth: September 1, 1920
(Died October 6, 2000)

Farnsworth is a veteran of over 300 movies, but it was not until he was 61- years-old and cast as Bill Miner in The Grey Fox, that he played his first leading role in a feature film.

A native to Los Angeles, California, Richard was a high-school dropout, and became a rodeo rider at age 16. When the call went out from MGM Studios for expert horsemen to appear in the Marx Bros. comedy, A Day at the Races (1937), Farnsworth was hired as a combination stunt man and extra. He remained in Hollywood ever since, stunting for many cowboy stars in western films.

During his years at Republic studios, it was not unusual for Farnsworth to receive a bigger paycheque than the actors for whom he doubled. For almost 10 years, he remained the only stunt man and stand-in for Roy Rogers. He would also accept such occasional outside assignments as Guy Madison's riding double in the theatrical feature, The Legend of the Lone Ranger. In 1961 he co-founded the Stuntmen's Association.

As he grew older, Farnsworth thought it wise to cut back on the athletics and to seek out speaking roles. By 1976, he was a full-time actor, his weather-beaten countenance and self-assuredness enlivening many an otherwise "flat" scene. In 1979, after 40 years in the movies, Farnsworth received his first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Comes a Horseman, in which he played Jane Fonda's ranch-hand.

In 1982, Farnsworth won Canada's Genie Award for his starring role as an elderly, elegant bank robber in The Grey Fox. He has two children, and lives with his wife Maggie who he been married to since 1947.

Although he received his greatest honor in 2000, as a nominee for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category for his work on The Straight Story, Farnsworth had grown very sick that year. By October, he had committed suicide while in New Mexico.


The Straight Story (1999)
The Getaway (1994)
Lassie (1994)
Highway to Hell (1992)
Havana (1990)
Misery (1990)
The Two Jakes (1990)
Good Ole Boy: A Delta Boyhood (1988)
Into the Night (1985)
Space Rage (1985)
Rhinestone (1984)
The Natural (1984)
Independence Day (1983)
The Grey Fox (1982)
Ruckus (1982)
Waltz Across Texas (1982)
The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)
Resurrection (1980)
Tom Horn (1979)
Comes a Horseman (1978)
Un autre homme, une autre chance (1977)
The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976)
Rooster Cogburn (1975) (uncredited)
Papillon (1973) (uncredited)
Ulzana's Raid (1972)
The Cowboys (1972)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Monte Walsh (1970)
Texas Across the River (1966)
Duel at Diablo (1966) (uncredited)
The Jolly Genie (1963)

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