Dud Wash from The Andy Griffith Show popped up in three Ron Howard films
Ever notice this Mayberry fellow in ancient Egypt and alongside Tom Cruise?
The network squeezed Gilligan into Mayberry. In the spring of 1964, CBS was prepping its new fantastical sitcom, Gilligan's Island, which was set to premiere in a few months. The series, of course, starred Bob Denver, who was no stranger to the network. Up until the prior year, Denver had played the lovable beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. But perhaps the suits were worried that audiences had forgotten Denver?
Whatever the reason, Denver appeared in "Divorce, Mountain Style," an episode of The Andy Griffith Show that once again centered around those hilarious hillbillies the Darlings. Denver played Dud Wash, the husband of Charlene Darling. That likely came a shock to viewers, because another actor portrayed Dud in earlier episodes.
Dud had been a part of the previous stories "The Darlings Are Coming" and "Mountain Wedding." Hoke Howell, a Southern boy born in Georgia and raised in South Carolina, was perfectly cast as Dud Wash in those episodes. With his long face and drawl, he fit right in among the fiddling Darlings.
Bob Denver may have replaced Howell on the sitcom, but the original Dud must have made an impression on little Opie. Ron Howard repeatedly cast Howell in small roles in his films for decades.
We all know that "Ronny" Howard grew up to become a Academy Award-winning director. But before he was helming Oscar-bait like A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, he honed his craft on B-movies, comedies and action flicks.
In 1977, Howard premiered his directorial debut, the madcap car chase Grand Theft Auto. Howard, in a role not too far off from Richie Cunningham or American Graffiti, starred in the low-budget hit, too. His character, Sam Freeman, was a young lover on the run in a Rolls Royce, racing to Las Vegas to get hitched.
Early in the movie, his car plows through a preacher's sermon in a park. That fiery preacher at the pulpit? Hoke Howell.
Over the next few years, Howard mostly directed TV movies, including the teenage rock-and-roll tale Cotton Candy and Through the Magic Pyramid, a juvenile time-travel adventure. The latter movie, written by his dad Rance Howard and later retitled The Time Crystal, followed a young football player as he zips back to ancient Egypt.
A gallery of familiar TV faces populated the 1981 movie-of-the-week. Vic Tayback (Alice) and Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch) were in there. As you have by now guessed, so was Hoke Howell. He turns up in a darkened prison cell.
Finally, in 1992, Howard put Howell in his more prestigious fare. The Tom Cruise epic Far and Away follows an Irish immigrant to the Oklahoma land rush. In the third act, Cruise's character is working on a railroad crew in the Ozarks. His boss? Hoke Howell!
Howell passed away in 1997, ending his long run of collaborating with Howard. Did you ever notice him in these movies?