Viewers of the 1983 TV movie Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story will spot more familiar faces than that of the film's star, Richard Thomas.
"I got the part and realized I was portraying the very thing I hated--groupies," Judd wrote in her autobiography, Love Can Build a Bridge. "Being a Waltons TV show fan, it seemed almost sacrilegious to kiss the family-style show's star, Richard Thomas, who was now playing the role of Hank Jr. But I made $630--a huge amount of money for me. I had one easy line in my brief walk on. It wasn't acting. It was more like modeling."
The film follows Hank Jr. from his mother Audrey Williams' (played by Allyn Ann McLerie) attempts to shoehorn him as a Hank Sr. tribute act to the early '80s, when he reigned atop country music on his own terms.
A key plot point toward the end of the film revolves around Williams Jr.'s fall from Ajax Mountain in Montana. The singer still masks facial damage from that incident with his beard and ever-present sunglasses. He was saved that day by hiking companion Dick Willey (played by Jay O. Sanders) and his young son, Walt Willey (portrayed by Christian Slater).
Per IMDB, other actors of note include future Beverly Hills 90210 star Ann Gillespie; Walker, Texas Ranger's Noble Willingham; The Viriginan's Clu Gulager; TV movie regular Liane Langland; character actors Lenora May and Barton Heyman; and country songwriter and longtime Hank Jr. manager Merle Kilgore.
The Dick Lowry-produced biopic was loosely based on Williams Jr. and Michael Bane's book Living Proof. Its script was penned by veteran TV writers Stephen Kandel (MacGyver) and I.C. Rapoport (Law & Order), with Michael Lepiner and Bruce S. Pustin credited as producers.
As you might suspect, there's some historical inaccuracies (for example, none of Junior's wives were named June Bradshaw Williams), but it's still an entertaining look at a country music legend's early years. VHS copies are hard to come by, and the film's yet to be released on DVD. So, we suggest checking YouTube for this and other country-related TV movies, like the 1981 Tammy Wynette biopic Stand By Your Man.
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