Richard Farnsworth: Suicide

07/16/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

"The Straight Story" Oscar nominee Richard Farnsworth, 80, shot and killed himself on Friday. The actor reportedly had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and earlier this year underwent hip replacement surgery, which left him partially paralyzed and unable to walk. Police said Farnsworth was found dead at the home near Lincoln, N.M., that he shared with his fiancee, Jewel Van Valin. He apparently left behind a suicide note, though police have not disclosed its contents. "This was an obvious self-inflicted gunshot," Sheriff Tom Sullivan told reporters. This year, at the age of 79, Farnsworth was the oldest best actor nominee in Academy history for his role as Alvin Straight, a senior citizen who drove his lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his ailing brother. Farnsworth's previous Oscar nomination was for the 1982 Canadian film, "The Grey Fox." The weathered-looking actor with the arresting blue eyes, who began his career as a stunt-riding double for Roy Rogers and Henry Fonda, also appeared in "The Natural," with Robert Redford, and "Comes a Horseman," with Jane Fonda, among other movies.

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