Johnny Cash is a legendary American country music singer known for famous songs such as "Walk The Line," "Ring of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," and so many more, but the Man in Black found himself on TV shows and in movies very often as well. He performed as himself on various TV talk shows, variety shows, and children's shows including Hee Haw, The Johnny Cash Show, Saturday Night Live, and Sesame Street.
There are also movies and documentaries made about Cash, including the blockbuster biopic, Walk The Line. The film follows the life of Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix) from the beginnings of his career at Sun Records with Sam Phillips in Memphis, through his marriages to Vivian Liberto and June Carter Cash, to his unparalleled career and eventual settling near Nashville, Tennessee.
Cash's music is also featured in countless movies and shows, including Logan ("The Man Comes Around"), Django Unchained ("Ain't No Grave"), and more. But beyond performing as himself and releasing concert footage (such as Johnny Cash in San Quentin and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison) Cash also dabbled in acting, starring in many movies and a few television shows. Here are 10 of the best roles played by Johnny Cash.
9. A Gunfight (1971)
One of his earliest movies roles, Johnny Cash stars alongside Hollywood star Kirk Douglas in this 1971 western. Cash and Douglas both play two gunfighters (Abe Cross and Will Tenneray) who are reaching old age and in need of money. The men hatch a plan to have a gunfight in front of the town, and whoever wins gets to take home the cash.
8. Little House on the Prairie (1976)
Little House on the Prairie is a classic TV show that ran from 1974-1983 and starred Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon and more, and the show saw a guest appearance from the one and only Johnny Cash in 1976. Appearing in an episode titled The Collection, Cash played a character named Caleb Hodgekiss. Cash's character is actually a villain, as he pretends to be a Reverend and tries to steal money from the citizens of Walnut Grove.
7. Thaddeus Rose and Eddie (1978)
In this 1978 western-themed TV movie, Cash acts alongside his wife, June Carter Cash, along with Diane Ladd and Bo Hopkins. In the movie, Cash and Hopkins play two best friend ranchers, Thaddeus Rose and Eddie Lee Haskell, who change their independent ways for two love interests, played by Carter Cash and Ladd.
6. The Pride of Jesse Hallam (1981)
In this 1981 drama, Cash steps out of the Western-themed role and into the role of Jesse Hallam, an illiterate coal miner from Kentucky. When Hallam's daughter needs spinal surgery, he moves his family up to Cincinnati, Ohio, but in order to support his family and his daughter, he needs to learn how to read and write. The movie follows Hallam's dream to become literate and graduate from high school.
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5. Murder in Coweta County (1983)
In the 1983 film, Murder in Coweta County, Cash acts alongside a familiar face -- Andy Griffith. While Griffith plays the lovable Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show, in this film, Cash is the lawman, playing the role of stern Sheriff Lamar Potts. The film is based on a true story and a book, and follows the struggle between Potts and wealthy landowner John Wallace, who is accused of murder. The film also features June Carter Cash.
4. The Baron and the Kid (1984)
Cash acts alongside his wife and flexes his acting skills yet again in 1984's The Baron and the Kid. In this drama, Cash plays a former professional pool player named Will who missed out on having a family due to his drinking habits. After giving up drinking, he meets and begins to mentor a young pool player named Billy Joe "The Cajun Kid" Stanley, but there may be more to his relationship with "the kid" than meets the eye.
3. Stagecoach (1986)
In 1986, Johnny Cash joined his fellow Highwaymen Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings in the epic Western, Stagecoach. The TV movie, which is a remake of the 1939 movie, follows a group of people riding a Stagecoach through the old West. Among the group are Doc Holliday (Nelson), Marshal Curly Wilcox (Cash), a prisoner named Ringo (Kristofferson), and a gambler (Jennings). The film also features roles played by John Schneider, June Carter Cash, Jessi Colter, and David Allan Coe.
2. The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James (1986)
Johnny Cash teams up with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson again in the 1986 movie, The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James. This movie follows famous outlaws and bank robbers Frank James (Cash) and Jesse James (Kristofferson) in their last few years. The movie also features Nelson playing the role of General Jo Shelby, June Carter Cash playing Mother James, as well as roles by David Allan Coe and Ed Bruce.
1. The Simpsons (1997)
As witnessed by this list, many of Johnny Cash's acting roles were Western-themed or similar, but some may be surprised to learn that Cash's voice was featured in an episode of The Simpson's in 1997. In the episode, titled El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, Homer Simpson eats a pepper that causes him to hallucinate, and he is then led on a spiritual journey by a wise, talking coyote, voiced by Cash.
Honorable mentions include Cash's roles of Johnny in All My Friends Are Cowboys, Tommy Brown in the TV series Columbo, Johnny Cabot in Five Minutes to Live, John Brown in North & South: Book 1, North & South, Davy Crockett in The Magical World of Disney, and Kid Cole in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Editors Note: This article was originally published on May 8, 2021.
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