Waltons, The (CBS 1972-1981, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned)

Created by Earl Hamner the Waltons offered a glimpse of rural life during the depressed 1930’s and 40’s. The large Walton family lived on Walton Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Jefferson County.

The family was headed by lumber mill owning John Walton and his wife Olivia, they had seven children, eldest John Boy (who wanted to be a writer), Mary-Ellen, Jim-Bob, Jason, Erin, Ben and Elizabeth. Also living with them were John’s parent’s Zeb and Esther.

Other regulars included shop owners Ike and Corabeth Godsey, Sheriff Ep Bridges and the Baldwin Sisters. The show had a very warm heart and was pure family viewing. The stories were related through the eyes of John Boy Walton (who did go on to become a novelist and journalist, even publishing his own newspaper, The Blue Ridge Chronicle).

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Some key moments throughout the show included Mary Ellen’s wedding, Grandma Walton suffering a stroke; The death in April 1978 of Grandpa Walton; Olivia contracting TB in 1978 and spending time in a sanatorium (mainly so that Michael Learned could spend less time on the show).

Michael Learned as Olivia and Richard Thomas as John Boy.

Around this time (with the second world war now affecting life for the Walton family) Olivia’s cousin Rose arrived to help take care of house. The Walton Boys were all also now involved in the war. There were also plenty of births, deaths and marriages during the show’s run.

The end of the series proper saw John selling his lumber mills to his son Ben and moving with Olivia to Arizona to help combat her TB. Since then there have been occasional TV Movie revivals continuing the story. The show was based in part on Hamner’s own life and also had its genesis in a 1963 Henry Fonda movie called Spencer’s Mountain.

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production details
USA / CBS/ 221×60 minute episodes plus seven feature length TV Movies so far / Broadcast Thursday 14 September 1972 – Thursday 20 August 1982

Olivia and John Walton

RALPH WAITE as John Walton
MICHAEL LEARNED as Olivia Walton
WILL GEER as Zeb “Grandpa” Walton (1972-78)
ELLEN CORBY as Esther “Grandma” Walton (1972-79)
RICHARD THOMAS as John Boy Walton (1972-77)
ROBERT WIGHTMAN as John Boy (1979-81)
JUDY NORTON-TAYLOR as Mary Ellen Walton
DAVID W. HARPER as Jim-Bob Walton
KAMI COTLER as Elizabeth Walton
JON WALMSLEY as Jason Walton
ERIC SCOTT as Ben Walton
JOE CONLEY as Ike Godsey
RONNIE CLAIRE EDWARDS as Corabeth Godsey (1974-81)
JOHN CRAWFORD as Sheriff Ep Bridges
HELEN KLEEB as Mamie Baldwin
MARY JACKSON as Emily Baldwin
LYNN HAMILTON as Verdie Foster
JOHN RITTER as Reverend Matthew Fordwick (1972-77)
ROBERT DONNER as Yancy Tucker (1972-79)
PEGGY REA as Rose Burton (1979-81)

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.