Oscar nominee shoots himself

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Richard Farnsworth, the veteran character actor nominated earlier this year for an Oscar for his leading role in the David Lynch film The Straight Story, has shot himself dead following a painful struggle with terminal cancer.

Richard Farnsworth, the veteran character actor nominated earlier this year for an Oscar for his leading role in the David Lynch film The Straight Story, has shot himself dead following a painful struggle with terminal cancer.

The 80-year-old actor entered the record books as the oldest man to be nominated in the Best Actor category following his quirky performance as an old man crossing the American Midwest on a lawnmower to visit his brother.

Unknown to film audiences, however, he was already chronically ill while making the film and partially paralysed. On Friday night, he shot himself at his home in Lincoln, New Mexico, retreating to a back room out of sight of his fiancee, Jewely Van Valin, who lived with him.

"I was just in the other room and I heard the shot,'' said Ms Van Valin. "He was in incredible pain today. He was going downhill.''

Local police ruled out any suspicious circumstances, saying the gunshot was "obviously self-inflicted".

Farnsworth spent much of his career as a stuntman and bit-part player, often riding horses in westerns, until his career bloomed in late middle-age. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Comes a Horseman in 1978, and also appeared in such films as The Gray Fox, The Natural, The Getaway and Havana.

His quietly impressive performance as Alvin Straight in The Straight Story was considered quite a coup, both for himself and for David Lynch who largely reined in his warped imaginative vision to produce a sweet-natured film in which almost nothing of consequence happened.

Following his nomination, Farnsworth said in an interview: "It feels a lot better because I'm getting up there in age and might not have a chance again.''

Comments