‘The Waltons’ Star Portrayed Outlaw Country Legend Hank Williams Jr. in 1983 Film

by Matthew Wilson
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The cast of “The Waltons” may be best known for starring in the classic TV show. But they also had other projects including portraying Outlaw Country legends. That’s right, series star Richard Thomas once portrayed the one and only Hank Williams Jr.

Though sometimes a controversial figure, there’s no denying the impact Bocephus has had on country music. The son of the legendary Hank Williams Sr., Williams followed his father into the country music biz. The singer quickly set himself apart from his old man. Music may run in his blood but Williams always followed his own path. Even if that path took him to being something of an Outlaw in the genre.

Released in 1983, the film “Living Proof” followed Hank Williams Jr. in those early days. The biopic reckons with Williams’ complicated relationship with his father and trying to live his legacy. Richard Thomas, trying to shed his John Boy-image, stepped into the role of Williams.

While he doesn’t necessarily look like Williams, Thomas tried to match the singer’s signature baritone. His performance is distinct enough it doesn’t feel like John Boy pretending to be a country musician. But “The Waltons” fans may have a hard time looking past Thomas’ previous role.

The film also stars Christian Slater, “Beverly Hills 90210” star Ann Gillespie; “Walker, Texas Ranger” actor Noble Willingham, and also “The Virginian” actor Clu Gulager.

The film proved to be an entertaining if inaccurate portrayal of Williams’ early career and ventures. The film explored Williams as he plots to create a tribute act to honor his father. “Living Proof” was loosely based on an autobiography – “Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story” by Williams Jr. and Michael Bane.

Naomi Judd Hated Kissing ‘The Waltons’ Star

“Living Proof” also starred the one and only Naomi Judd as well. The country singer appeared in the biopic opposite Richard Thomas. It’s a role that Judd didn’t remember fondly. For one, she shared an intimate scene with Thomas. And she hated kissing “The Waltons” star.

“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.”

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