‘Andy Griffith Show’: A Young Ron Howard Starred Alongside Johnny Cash in This Thriller

by Matthew Wilson
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“The Andy Griffith Show” star Ron Howard was still a child when he appeared alongside country singer Johnny Cash in this crime thriller. Both Howard and Cash starred in the 1961 film “Five Minutes to Live,” later re-released as “Door-to-Door Maniac.”

The film was one of only two theatrical films in Cash’s career. The country singer traded in on his natural charisma for menace and malice. He played Johnny Cabot, a homicidal criminal. Cash’s character kidnapped the wife of a bank vice president to force him to pay a ransom. The film followed a ticking clock of if the man would pay or outsmart the criminals before his wife was killed.

Howard had a small but memorable part in the film as the couple’s son. Howard’s character came home from school for lunch to find his mother kidnapped. Howard and Cash shared a tense scene after the criminal also took the boy hostage as well. What followed was a standoff between the criminal and his hostage and the police closing in.

At the time, Howard was still in the early days of “The Andy Griffith Show” as Opie. He occasionally starred in other productions during his off time from the show. Meanwhile, Cash was a popular country star but hadn’t recorded his mega-hit “Ring of Fire” yet.

Ron Howard As An Actor

Of course, Howard later acted alongside another famous John as well. That would be John Wayne in “The Shootist,” his final film appearance. In that film, Howard played a young man that befriended Wayne’s dying gunslinger in his final days. The two actors bonded while making the film and planned to reunite for another film. But Wayne passed away before production could start.

Howard starred in various roles, starting at an early age. “Five Minutes to Live” was one of his first film roles. But Howard got his start even earlier in the realm of television. He appeared on people’s screens every week as Opie from “The Andy Griffith Show,” a role he starred in for eight seasons. After that show eventually ended, Howard worked for a while, appearing in guest roles. For instance, he appeared on both “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” during this time.

Howard later landed the role of Ritchie Cunningham on the popular sitcom “Happy Days.” The role made him an even bigger star and a household name. He eventually left that show to pursue a career in directing.

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