JOHNNY CASH BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Johnny Cash was born onto a sizeable, but struggling farm in Kinsland, Arkansas on February 29, 1932. Life was difficult growing up, as the Great Depression had wreaked even more havoc on the already suffering agricultural economy. With the New Deal, the family moved to northeastern Arkansas to settle in the more fertile soil. However, this meant Cash would have to toil alongside his family in order for them to have food on the table. One day while working, a tragic accident occurred that impacted him for the rest of his life: his brother was nearly cut in two by a head saw, and died over a week later. To get over the grief from the death, as well as the labors of everyday life, the Cash family would sing.
Cash especially found solace in music, so his mother, seeing his love of music, scrounged up enough money for the young boy to take singing lessons. His voice was so unique, however, that the instructor told him to quit the lessons and use his natural talents. He did so, entering talent contests and performing whenever he could. After high school, Cash enlisted in the Air Force for the Korean War. While in service, he bought his first guitar and started a small band with a few of his buddies. When he was done serving, he married his sweetheart, Vivian Leberto, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee to pursue a career in music.
After about a year of playing locally, Sun Records (the same record company where Elvis Presley got his start) struck up a deal with the musician. By 1955, he had his first collection of singles, and by 1956, he had major success with a batch of #1 singles. 1957 saw the release of his debut album. By the early 1960's, Cash had relocated his family to Ventura, California, was signed with Columbia Records, and was a major musical superstar. He had also begun acting in television, with small parts in “Shotgun Slade” (1959), “Wagon Train” (1959), “The Rebel” (1960), and “The Deputy” (1961). In 1961 he starred in his first feature film, “Five Minutes to Live”, also titled "Door-to-Door Maniac", a crime drama about a group of bank robbers that move on to murdering innocent town dwellers. The musician then appeared in the TV short “The Night Rider” (1962), before taking a break from the screen to go on tour.
Cash was on the road for three hundred nights a year, which took a great toll on his personal life. He had become addicted to alcohol, amphetamines, and barbiturates. In 1966 his wife filed for divorce. The next year, he almost OD’d. Other incidents include two arrests and accidentally starting a forest fire. In 1967 his life turned around, when he met country singer/songwriter June Carter, of the legendary Carter family. They married the next year, and she helped save him from himself. He got clean, found Jesus, and consequently made a huge career comeback.
From 1969 to 1971 he starred in his own television show on ABC, “The Johnny Cash Show”, a variety show that featured musicians ranging from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong. Cash also tackled a number of social issues in his series. He guest starred on two shows, “The Partridge Family” (1970) and “NET Playhouse” (1971), before taking the lead in his second motion picture, the western “A Gunfight” (1971) starring alongside Kirk Douglas. In 1973 he co-wrote and produced “Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus” (1973), a Christian docudrama. In 1975 he tried another television variety show, “Johnny Cash and Friends” (1975-76), although it only lasted a season.
For the rest of the 1970's, 1980's, and early 1990's, Cash continued to maintain his busy schedule, though his popularity did wane. In 1975 he released his first auto-biography Man in Black. By 1977 he fell back into drug use, although in 1980 he became the youngest member to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1983 he entered the Betty Ford Clinic for rehabilitation, and afterwards he toured with his new band, the Highwaymen (consisting of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and himself). They found success with their first album, and continued to fare well through the nineties. In 1986 he found a new venture as a writer, for the novel Man in White, a book about Saul’s conversion to the Apostle Paul.
On screen he acted in the television series “Little House on the Prairie” (1976), as well as the TV movies “Thaddeus Rose and Eddie” (1978), “The Pride of Jesse Hallam” (1981), “Murder in Coweta County” (1983), and “The Baron and the Kid” (1984). In 1985 he had a recurring role on the television mini-series “North and South”. Cash made appearances in a handful of TV movies and shows for the next few years before taking a break to focus on his music. In 1992 he was inducted in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, an following he went on the Lollapalooza alternative rock tour. He released an album, and then returned to television for the shows “Renegade” (1996) starring Lorenzo Lamas, “The Simpsons” (1997), and “Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman” (1993-97).
He released a couple more albums in the nineties, both by himself and with other collaborators. In 1997 he put out a second autobiography, titled Cash: The Autobiography. In the same year, he was also diagnosed with Shy-Dager Syndrome. However, he continued to work. In 1998 he starred in his third and final feature film, “All My Friends Are Cowboys”. Cash released two more compilations, and earned immense acclaim and media attention for his heartfelt Nine Inch Nails cover of “Hurt”. In 2003 he narrated the film “The Hunted”. In May of 2003, his wife of thirty five years, June Carter, died from heart complications. He followed her four months later, on September 12, as a result of diabetes complications.
2005’s feature film “Walk the Line” follows the autobiographies of Cash, documenting his rise to fame, struggle with addiction, and most importantly, relationship with June Carter. In the movie, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Cash (a selection the late musician approved of), while Reese Witherspoon plays June.
2003 The Hunted
1998 All My Friends Are Cowboys
1997 The Simpsons
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
1988 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color
1986 The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James
1986 Waylon Jennings: America
1985 North and South
1984 The Baron and the Kid
1983 Murder in Coweta County
1981 The Pride of Jesse Hallam
1978 Thaddeus Rose and Eddie
1976 Little House on the Prairie
1975 Johnny Cash and Friends
1973 Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus
1971 A Gunfight
1971 NET Playhouse
1970 The Partridge Family
1969 The Johnny Cash Show
1962 The Night Rider
1961 Five Minutes to Live
1961 The Deputy
1960 The Rebel
1959 Wagon Train
1959 Shotgun Slade