The waltons characters

The waltons characters DEFAULT
John Boy Walton (1972-77)Richard Thomas
John Boy Walton (1979-81)Robert Wightman
John WaltonRalph Waite
Olivia Walton Michael Learned
Zeb "Grandpa" Walton Will Geer
Esther "Grandma" Walton Ellen Corby
Jason WaltonJon Walmsley
Mary Ellen Walton Willard JonesJudy Norton
Ben WaltonEric Scott
Erin WaltonMary McDonough
Jim Bob WaltonDavid W. Harper
Elizabeth WaltonKami Cotler
Toni Hazleton Walton Lisa Harrison
Cindy Brunson Walton Leslie Winston
Dr. Curtis Willard Tom Bower
John Curtis Willard Marshall & Michael Reed
Martha Corrine WaltonBeulah Bondi
Boone WaltonMorgan Woodward
Wade WaltonRichard Hatch
Drew CutlerTony Becker
Miss Emily BaldwinMary Jackson
Miss Mamie BaldwinHelen Kleeb
Homer Lee BaldwinDenver Pyle
Polonius BaldwinIggie Wolfington
Ike GodseyJoe Conley
Corabeth Walton Godsey Ronnie Claire Edwards
Aimee Louise GodseyRachael Longaker
Sheriff Ep BridgesJohn Crawford
Sara GriffithLynn Carlin
Zuleika DunbarPearl Shear
Dr. David SpencerRobert Woods
Buck VernonBarry Cahill
Verdie Grant FosterLynn Hamilton
Harley FosterHal Williams
Reverend Matthew FordwickJohn Ritter
Rosemary Hunter Fordwick Mariclare Costello
Yancy Tucker Robert Donner
G. W. Haines David Doremus
Fannie Tatum Sheila Allen
Flossie Brimmer Nora Marlowe
Horace Brimley Wilford A. Brimley
Bobby Bigelow Mayf Nutter
Maude Gormley Merie Earle
Rev. Hank Buchanan Peter Fox
Rev. Tom Marshall Kip Niven
J.D. Pickett Lewis Arquette
Stanley PerkinsWilliam Schallert
Daisey Garner Dierdre Henihan
Ashley Longworth, Jr. Jonathan Frakes
Arlington Jones "Jonesy" Richard Gilliand
Rose Burton Peggy Rea
Serena Burton Martha Nix
Jeffrey Burton Keith Mitchell

The Waltons Cast: Where Are They Now

Ralph Waite - Then

Long before Ralph Waite was cast to play the role of the family patriarch, John Walton Sr., on "The Waltons." He obtained his master's degree from the Yale Divinity School. He decided to make quite the career change and became an actor. He acted on Broadway before turning to film.

In "The Waltons," Ralph, as John Walton Sr., runs a family sawmill and prioritizes keeping his family together during the Great Depression and World War II. He manages to scrape together an income for his family by running a lumber mill with his son's help. 

Ralph Waite - Now

After "TheWaltons" came to an end, Ralph Waite continued to perform in several films and make guest appearances on popular TV shows. He had a recurring role in Jackson Gibbs on "NCIS." In 1995, he created the role of Will Kidder in the play "The Young Man From Atlanta." The play won the Pulitzer Prize. 

Waite also lived a full life in other ways. He was married three times and used his platform to express his views on politics. Sadly, Waite passed away on February 13, 2014, in California. 

Michael Learned - Then 

Before Michael Learned landed the role of the family matriarch, Olivia Walton, her acting resume was meager. "The Waltons" ended up jumpstarting and legitimizing Michael’s career as an actress and she was nominated for six Emmy Awards, taking home three of the awards.

 Learned’s disappearance was in part due to suffering from tuberculosis and leaving to get treated in a sanatorium. 

Michael Learned - Now

After playing Mrs. Walton, Learned has continued to act.  She experienced success in daytime television, playing a terminally ill cancer patient, Shirley Smith, on General Hospital. She also took over the role of Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless.

Starkly different from her T.V. character, behind the scenes on "The Waltons," Learned was battling alcoholism abuse. Michael had three children with her first husband, actor Peter Donat. She’s currently married to lawyer John Doherty and they live together in California.

Richard Thomas - Then

Before getting cast as the star of the show, John-Boy, 20-year-old Richard Thomas already had an impressive resume, including both works on television and films. One of his first major film roles was in "Winning" in 1969, where he played alongside Paul Newman. 

The role of John-Boy was based on the real-life of Earl Hamner Jr., the writer of the show.  John-Boy is a contemplative character and reader who has dreams of becoming a writer. He journals his thoughts about daily life and family. 

Richard Thomas - Now

Richard experienced a successful theater career after leaving "The Waltons." In 1980, he appeared on the "Fifth of July." In 1993, he played the main role in "Richard II." He also performed in four plays at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut during the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

In 2009-2010, Thomas appeared in the Broadway play "Race" by David Mamet. He acted alongside James Spader, Kerry Washington, and David Alan Grier. 

Jon Walmsley - Then

Before John Walmsley was cast as Jason Walton on "The Waltons," he voiced Christopher Robin's Winnie the Pooh cartoons. Although John-Boy and Jason Walton have very different personalities, the two brothers have a very close relationship. 

In the show, Jason is passionate about music and enjoys composing music on the piano, guitar, and harmonica. In season three of the series, he studies at the Kleinberg Conservatory of Music. He also starts working at a honky-tonk tavern, playing the piano. 

Jon Walmsley - Now

After finishing his long run on the show, Walmsley has put his energy towards his music career. He has composed music for "8 Simple Rules," "7th Heaven," and "Secret Life of the American Teenager." 

Throughout his time as a composer and musician, he has worked with several big musicians, including David Koz, Peter and Gordon, Merle Haggard, Richard Marx, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and co-founder of The Beach Boys, Al Jardine.

Judy Norton Taylor - Then

Before Judy Norton-Taylor landed the role of Mary Ellen Walton on "The Waltons," she was a novice actress without much experience. Judy started learning and practicing Scientology from the young age of 13. She subsequently became a minister in the church. 

The oldest daughter of the family is Mary Ellen. She was a tomboy that loved playing baseball. As the series went on, Mary Ellen became a wise woman who worked toward obtaining her nursing degree and eventually became a doctor. From a tomboy to a doctor, Mary Ellen's character was an inspiration.

Judy Norton Taylor - Now

After The Waltons ended, Judy Norton Taylor turned to the stage. She went north of the border and directed more than 40 different shows for two theater companies in Canada. Like her sibling on the show, she had a love for music, so she rekindled it and made a demo at one point.

In 1985, she posed for Playboy in an attempt to shed her wholesome "family" image. Today, she is married to her husband Robert Graves and has one son, Devin.

Eric Scott - Then

Eric Scott's most well-known role to date was as fifth-born child Ben Walton on The Waltons. His parents named him Eric Scott in honor of his uncle, who was killed in WWI. Ben often gets into trouble, especially due to his money-making ventures. John-Boy or his father has to come to his aid to bail him out.

Ben ends up marrying Cindy Brunson, and they have two children together, a daughter Virginia, and a son, Charles, who is born in the second reunion movie. 

Eric Scott - Now

Like many of his colleagues on The Waltons, Eric Scott pretty much left the acting world after playing Ben and appeared in only a few small roles. He was married for a short time to actress Karey Louis and remarried Theresa Fargo, with whom he had a daughter, Ashley. 

In 2001, Scott married once again to Cindy Ullman Wolfen. The couple had a baby girl together in 2001 and a son in 2004. It doesn't seem like Eric Scott is missing his life as an actor much, and he seems to be enjoying family life. 

Mary Beth McDonough - Then

Her role as Erin Esther Walton on The Waltons was Mary Elizabeth McDonough's first major acting role. Erin Esther Walton is the fourth oldest child of Olivia and John. Erin is a romantic who has difficulty finding where she belongs.

After she graduated from high school, she goes to business school and ends up becoming a plant's executive manager during the war. She is in several relationships, which all end equally bad, including her marriage to Paul Northridge, who proves to be unfaithful in their relationship. 

Mary Beth McDonough - Now

After her time on The Waltons, McDonough had several guest appearances on popular TV shows like The Love Boat, ER, Ally McBeal, Walker, Texas Ranger, The West Wing, Boston Legal, and Will & Grace. She also starred in The New Adventures of Old Christine as Mrs. Wilhoite. 

Getty Images Photo by Bennett Raglin

Besides her acting career, Mary is a guest on radio and has been on several syndicated and international radio shows, like 'Get Focused Radio' with Kate Hennessy. She married Rob Wickstrom in 1988, and the two had a daughter, Sydnee, but they divorced in 1996.

David Harper - Then

David W. Harper is best known as the youngest Walton boy, Jim-Bob. He's closest to his younger sister, Elizabeth. Jim-Bob has a hand for mechanics and loves aviation. He has high hopes of becoming a pilot but must give up his dream because of poor eyesight. 

Throughout the show, we see Jim-Bob bounce around between several girlfriends. Jim-Bob graduates high school as the class valedictorian. He wants to enlist in the Army after the Pearl Harbor attack but is rejected because of his young age. 

David Harper - Now

After sticking with the series for the duration of its nine-season run, Harper, like many of his on-screen family members, chose to lighten up on his acting load. Since the show, he has appeared in the CBS television miniseries, "The Blue and the Gray." 

Getty Images Photo by Bennett Raglin

Along with many of his co-stars, he appeared in several reunion specials throughout the 1980s and 1990s. 

Kami Cotler - Then

The baby of the Walton family, adorable Kami Cotler, was only six-years-old when the series started. She stars as the youngest child of Olivia and John, Elizabeth Tyler Walton. She is a free-spirited, feisty little girl who has no problem speaking her mind.

When she grows up to be a teenager, she's very fond of books and writing. Elizabeth is very helpful and often babysits her nieces and nephews. Later on in the series, her free-spirit persona leads her to travel around Europe and join the Peace Corps. 

Kami Cotler - Now

Kami Cotler retired acting in pursuit of an academic path. She enrolled at the University of California, Berkley, and got her degree in Social Sciences. She became a teacher and ironically started to work in a rural Virginia school, similar to the school that her character on Waltons attended.

Kami later moved back to California to teach at an Environmental Charter High School and then became co-director of the Ocean Charter School until 2007 when she retired from the school system in order to start her own educational consulting business. 

Ralph Waite Was Fired Because the Network Was Cheap

Originally, the show wasn't supposed to continue on for a ninth season. However, after setting a lower budget, the producers ended up proceeding with the last season. They needed more money, so they did the most logical thing; they let go of the highest-paid actor, Ralph Waite.

So, if you're wondering why Waite was missing… you can blame the network for being cheap!

Ellen Corby Returned After a Stroke

Some actors are so dedicated to their careers that something as serious as a stroke doesn't keep them out of the game for too long. When Grandma Esther, AKA Ellen Corby, had a stroke in 1976, she left the show for two years in order to care for her health. 

Her stroke ended up being written into the script. Ellen was afraid that the stroke would impact her acting abilities, but the opposite ended up happening, although her fans expressed doubt at Corby taking up acting again and not prioritizing her health. 

Patricia Neal Was in the Original Cast

In the 1971 pilot of the TV show, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, Patricia Neal played Olivia Walton. Patricia won a Golden Globe for her performance. Earl Hamner was doubtful of Neal's ability to commit to the schedule of a weekly TV series because of her health issues. 

So, Michael Learned was awarded the role, which, as we know by now, was a very positive thing for the series and Learned's career.

Henry Fonda Talked Himself Out Of A Role

Henry Fonda was in "Spencer's Mountain" in 1963, which served as inspiration for "The Waltons." Fonda was potentially going to play the father of the Waltons, and CBS executives thought that he could be a great fit. However, he made a comment which eventually rubbed them the wrong way and ruined his chances of getting cast. 

Getty Images Photo by Bettmann

When Fonda watched the pilot show, he said, "What do you want me for? The whole family is the star! You don't need me." So… yeah… not really the thing to say if you're trying to get cast! 

A Case of Mistaken Identity

In the time that "The Waltons aired," it was common for sitcoms to be called by the last name of the family. When you saw a show with the last name, you knew you were about to watch a sitcom. "The Waltons" definitely was by no means a sitcom, so that confused early viewers. 

Even so, the show was a big hit with millions of viewers around the country.

The Father And Son Connection

"The Waltons" was Waite and Thomas's first time working together. Ralph Waite and Richard Thomas acted together on Last Summer. Three years after that, they once again collaborated as the father-son duo in the series. It was clear that the pair had good chemistry together.

Before the show, Ralph Waite and Richard Thomas both starred together on Last Summer. It was only three years later, that they teamed up again as a father-son duo. You know the old saying if it isn't broke, don't fix it. So clearly, their chemistry was on point and audiences liked them together.

Olivia Walton Loved the Bottle

Despite that on the series, Learned bashed alcohol and labeled it as evil, in real life, she felt quite differently. Well, maybe she still thought it was a toxic substance, but that didn't stop her from engaging in alcohol abuse. She even showed up to her audition with a bottle of bourbon in her pocket. 

Despite this, she was able to convince the producers that she was the perfect fit for the job. 

Jon Walmsley Was Born in England

While Jon Walmsley sounded like he was born in the United States, he was actually born in Lancashire, England. When he was very young, his family made the trek across the pond to start life in the U.S.

While Walsmely could have followed in the footsteps of other actors who faked their American accents, he didn’t have to. He was young enough when he moved that he didn’t retain any of his English accent.

The Studio Took Advantage of the Cast

It was no lie that the studio was very cheap, especially with the cast members. Just to illustrate for you how cheap the studio was — apparently, their idea of a party consisted of having one beer and 13 straws for cast members. While we assume that this is probably an exaggeration, the studio had the reputation of being very stingy.

Even though the studio had a stingy reputation, they did send flowers to Michael Learned once. That must have really been difficult for them, considering their tight budget. 

Ralph Waite Fell in Love with the Cast

Ralph Waite attributes becoming sober in large part to his cast on "The Waltons." What's that song, love is all you need? Well, it seems to have been the kicker to push past his alcohol issues. 

But, as time went on and he grew more and more committed to the series, his TV family helped encourage him to make a big change in his life. He decided to turn his life around and sign up for AA to become sober. But more on that later.

Michael and Ralph Attempted To Date... It Was Too Awkward

Remember when Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel attempted to bring to life their fictional relationship as Cory and Topanga in "Boy Meets World?" Well, just like it didn't work out for the two, Michael and Ralph were also not successful in their relationship attempt.

It was true that the two had good chemistry on the screen, but when they both found themselves single and attempting to date in real life, it was too weird and they came to the mutual agreement that it wouldn't work out between them. 

Grandpa Was Proud

Will Geer, the actor behind Grandpa Zebulon Walton, dedicated his life to so much more than just acting. As a member of the gay community, Geer also dedicated his life to activism. He was in a relationship with Harry Hay, a prominent activist focused on gay rights, labor rights, Native American civil rights, and other notable causes.

Geer himself was a labor organizer in New York and Southern California during the 30s and 40s. He organized benefits for migrant workers and toured work camps. Although he died in 1978, his notable work as an activist lives on.

AND... He Was a Communist

Being gay wasn't his only secret. Zeb was also a communist! He would campaign on behalf of striking workers. Soon he found out that the Communist party was homophobic so he had to come to terms with marrying a woman.

 In 1950s Geer was blacklisted for not testifying before the House Committee.

Mary Ellen's Playboy Spread Ended up Ruining Her Career

Often times, a famous woman will take to a Playboy photoshoot in hopes of it salvaging their career. It seems to work for some stars like Kim K. But, for others, it prevents their career from ever taking off again. Mary Ellen's Playboy stint definitely didn't jump-start her acting career again.

Ironically enough, it proved to be the barrier that would prevent her from getting more acting work. Interviews always tended to focus on her being in Playboy rather than her acting. Mary Ellen later admitted that being in the magazine wasn't a good idea. 

Mary McDonough Got Sick

After Mary McDonough played Erin Walton on the series, she had a breast augmentation. Whether she did that in order to transition from her role on the series wasn't confirmed. Unfortunately, the operation didn't work out in her favor. 

The surgery didn't go smoothly and led to her developing Lupus, which she claims to be caused by leaking silicone breast implants.

Ralph Waite Attempted To Become a Politician after the Show Ended

After Ralph Waite finished on the show, he hoped to pursue a completely different path than acting. He wanted to become a politician. Well, the third time didn't prove to be the charm for the actor and he failed running three times for Congress in California. 

Getty Images Photo by Maureen Keating

Apparently, he didn't use his celebrity status to win over voters, as most other celebrities would do in his position. 

The Show's Success Was a Huge Surprise To CBS

Oddly enough, CBS did not expect the show to become the success that it was. They had little faith in the show and thought that it wouldn't come close to popular shows put out by NBC and ABC. 

Surprisingly to them, the show ended up beating shows by other networks and was ranked very highly.

The Waltons' House Would Eventually Become the Gilmore Inn

The house in which the Walton family lived in was offered to several shows and movies after the series ended. But, one show ended up getting the rights to the home. "The Gilmore Girls" used the home as the Dragonfly Inn. 

Although the home has since undergone a renovation, it still maintains much of its TV history.

Show Creator Earl Hamner Jr. Drew Familiar Inspiration for the Show

People who create things for a living need constant inspiration. In this case, the creator of the show was inspired by his own family. He had seven siblings and said that he was John-Boy in real life.

 Creator of Seinfeld, Larry David, also based George off himself so this practice isn't out of the ordinary.

The Show's Timeline Was Constantly Messed Up

Making mistakes happen, even for big-timers like television producers. The producers on "The Waltons" made several mistakes regarding the timeline of the show. There were several inconsistencies throughout the show regarding the characters' ages. 

Messing up may be a part of life, as the producers of the show confused the order of the timeline. This included things like anniversaries and overall the cast members' ages. One excellent example is when John-Boy wasn't able to enlist in the Army even though he was 19.

The Original John-Boy Made Regular Appearances As Different Characters

The original actor, Richard Thomas was meant to play John-Boy for five seasons but he ended up making a guest appearance in season six and coming back for the movie sequels. He was replaced for seasons 8-9 by actor, Robert Wightman. That must have been very confusing for viewers! 

The original John-Boy was supposed to play him for five seasons but he was replaced by a different actor, Robert Wightman. You would think that he wouldn't come back on the show but he did as a different character. That must have been weird for him changing roles on the same TV show.

The Youngest Walton Quit Acting and Found a New Career

As we mentioned earlier, Kami Cotler decided she was done with acting altogether after her time on "The Waltons." As the youngest member of the Walton family, the star had plenty of time left after the show was canceled to build a real career in acting. Instead, she chose a career in academics.

Years after the show was off the air, Cotler founded a charter school in Gardena, California. She also acted as the principal, pursuing a passion that fulfilled her more than her job as an actress.

John Officiated Jason's Wedding

Before he was an actor, Ralph Waite was an ordained minister. You might think that his duties as a man of God didn’t play a role in his career onscreen, but they did come in handy when co-star John Walmsley married his wife. 

Getty Images Photo by Bennett Raglin

Since the cast was so close, Walmsley invited everyone to the wedding. Not only that, but he also invited Waite to officiate the ceremony. He got to celebrate with the people he grew up with, and he also got to hear Ralph Waite make the official pronouncement of “man and wife.” 

Reunion for Earl Hammer

In 2016, the show's creator Earl Hammer passed away after his battle with cancer at the age of 92. To commemorate his life and work, the show aired a reunion of the CBS drama from 2013.

Some people may think the show was overly sentimental but this is exactly what made the show so groundbreaking, the fact that is was wholesome and honored family values.

Grandma had a girlfriend 

Here’s something that would have caused quite the stir within the Walton family; Grandma was gay! Ellen Corby played Esther Walton in the show and took home three Emmy awards for her performance. She married her husband, Francis Corby, in 1934 and the two never had children, eventually divorcing in 1944.  

Well, turns out that Ellen had a female partner of 45 years who lived with her up until her death in 1999. It was known in Hollywood that the two ladies were more than just friends. Ellen’s final words were to her girlfriend, Stella Luchetta, and they were “I love you.” 


As was normal back in the 70s, the younger cast members feel that they were often underappreciated and taken advantage of during filming. The young actor Eric Scott, stated, “We didn't get paid well on that show.” Eric Scott struggled to find acting work after the show ended, and the only job he could find was as a courier.

Getty Images Photo by CBS Photo Archive

He worked hard and climbed the ladder and eventually went on to run the company. David Harper also couldn't find work after "The Waltons" and worked as a crew member behind the scenes.

The Walton's Mountain

The “Walton’s Mountain” was actually shot in the Hollywood Hills south of the Warner Bros property. The exterior of the family home was also located on the studio lot. The original Walton home was set aflame by a disgruntled crew worker, back in 1991.

Warner Bros decided to rebuild the house to use in the Walton reunion special that aired in 1993.

Earl Hamner's House Was Bought By Fans

Earl Hamner's home that served as the basis for the TV show "The Waltons" has been bought by long-time Walton enthusiast Carole Johnson. The Hamner home has been preserved for viewings and will remain open to the public.

For fans interested, there are guided tours, as well as new items on display that bridge the gap between the real home and how it was depicted on the TV show.

'The Waltons' Brought The End Of Flip Wilson's Show

The boisterous comedian’s talk show had reigned in second-place in television ratings for four consecutive years when "The Waltons" premiered and became a surprising success, beating Flip out of the top 30 and securing their spot in second place.

Rather than let his show carry on and suffer from the competition, Flip Wilson sadly announced that it would be their last season.

The Kids Helped Ralph Get A Fresh Start

Judy Norton, who played the eldest daughter, Mary Ellen Walton, said in an interview that the cast of the children softened their fictional father’s heart in reality and helped him finally battle the inner demons he’d been carrying for years.

“He said, ‘I sat there one day at the kitchen table with all you kids and I felt like such a phony.’ He took himself to AA and got sober,” she revealed.

John Ritter saved Mary McDonough’s life 

Mary McDonough played Erin Walton, who was often considered “the pretty one” of the Walton sisters. After a while, the moniker took a toll on Mary. Feeling outside pressure to remain thin, McDonough developed an eating disorder. 

At one point, McDonough’s struggles with food got so bad that she developed an ulcer and her hair began to thin. Although she tried to hide it from the cast, John Ritter confronted her about the issue. Ritter insisted that she start a journal and McDonough later said his interference saved her life. 

The Show was Timed Perfectly

When the showgot its start on television, the country was in the middle of congressional hearings. The hearings were focused on morality on television at the time, as many people felt that shows weren’t as conservative as they should have been. 

According to Kami Cotler, The Waltons was a direct reaction to that idea. In a time when people were arguing that there wasn’t any morality in Hollywood, The Waltons was a wholesome series focused on old-fashioned family values. 

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The Waltons

For other uses, see The Waltons (disambiguation).

American 1972–1981 television series

The Waltons is an American historical drama television series about a family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II. It was created by Earl Hamner Jr., based on his 1961 book Spencer's Mountain and the 1963 film of the same name.

The television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story was broadcast on December 19, 1971.[1] Based on its success, the CBS television network ordered one season of episodes based on the same characters and that became the television series The Waltons.[2] Beginning in September 1972, the series subsequently aired on CBS for nine seasons. After the series was canceled by CBS in 1981, NBC aired three television film sequels in 1982, with three more in the 1990s on CBS. The Waltons was produced by Lorimar Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution in syndication.

The show’s end sequence featured the family saying goodnight to one another before drifting off to sleep, and according to the BBC (which also aired the series) "Goodnight, John Boy" was one of the most common catchphrases of the 1970s.[3]



The main story is set in Walton's Mountain, a fictional mountain-area community in fictitious Jefferson County, Virginia.

The real place upon which the stories are based is the community of Schuyler in Nelson County, Virginia.

The time period is from 1933 to 1946, during the Great Depression and World War II, during the presidential administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman. The year 1933 is suggested by a reference to the opening of the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago, a brief shot of an automobile registration, and it is divulged in episode 5 that the date is in the spring of 1933.[4] The last episode of season one, "An Easter Story," is set in February – April 1934. The year 1934 takes 2 seasons to cover, while some successive years are covered over the course of a few months.[5]

The series finale, "The Revel," revolves around a party and the invitation date is given as June 4, 1946. A span of 13 years is therefore covered in nine seasons. There are some chronological inconsistencies, most of which do not hinder the storyline.

The first 3 reunion movies (A Wedding on Walton's Mountain, Mother's Day on Walton's Mountain, and A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain), all produced in 1982, are set in 1947. Of the later reunions, A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, filmed in 1993, is set in 1963, and revolves around President John F. Kennedy's assassination. A Walton Wedding, made in 1995, is set in 1964, and A Walton Easter, filmed in 1997, is set in 1969.

The series began relating stories that occurred 39 years in the past and ended with its last reunion show set 28 years in the past.


John, John-Boy, and Olivia Walton

The story is about the family of John Walton Jr. (known as John-Boy): his 6 siblings, his parents John and Olivia Walton, and paternal grandparents Zebulon "Zeb" and Esther Walton. John-Boy is the oldest of the children (17 years old in the beginning),[6] who becomes a journalist and novelist. Each episode is narrated at the opening and closing by a middle-aged John Jr. (voiced by author Earl Hamner on whom John-Boy is based). John Sr. manages to eke out a living for his family by operating a lumber mill with the help of his sons as they grow older. The family income is augmented by some small-scale farming, and John occasionally hunts to put meat on the table. In the simpler days of their country youth, all of the children are rambunctious and curious, but as times grow tough, the children slowly depart from the innocent, carefree days of walking everywhere barefoot while clad in overalls and hand-sewn pinafores, and into the harsh, demanding world of adulthood and responsibility.

The family shares hospitality with relatives and strangers as they are able. The small community named after their property is also home to folk of various income levels, ranging from the well-to-do Baldwin sisters, two elderly spinsters who distill moonshine that they call "Papa's recipe;" Ike Godsey, postmaster and owner of the general store with his somewhat snobbish wife Corabeth (a Walton cousin; she calls her husband "Mr. Godsey"); an African-American couple, Verdie and Harley Foster; Maude Gormley, a sassy octogenarian artist who paints on wood; Flossie Brimmer, a friendly though somewhat gossipy widow who runs a nearby boarding house; and Yancy Tucker, a good-hearted handyman with big plans but little motivation. Jefferson County sheriff Ep Bridges, who fought alongside John in World War I, keeps law and order in Walton's Mountain. The entire family (except for John) attends a Baptist church, of which Olivia and Grandma Esther are the most regular attendees.

In the signature scene that closes almost every episode, the family house is enveloped in darkness, save for 1, 2 or 3 lights in the upstairs bedroom windows. Through voice-overs, two or more characters make some brief comments related to that episode's events, and then bid each other goodnight, after which the lights go out.

After completing high school, John-Boy attends fictional Boatwright University in the fictional nearby town of Westham. He later goes to New York City to work as a journalist.

During the latter half of the 1976–77 season, Grandma Esther Walton suffers a stroke and returns home shortly before the death of her husband, Grandpa Zeb Walton (reflecting Ellen Corby's real-life stroke and the death of Will Geer; they were the actors who portrayed those characters).

During the series' last few years, Mary Ellen and Ben start their own families; Erin, Jason and John-Boy are married in later television movie sequels. Younger children Jim-Bob and Elizabeth struggle to find and cement true love.

World War II deeply affects the family. All four Walton boys enlist in the military. Mary Ellen's physician husband, Curtis "Curt" Willard, is sent to Pearl Harbor and is reported to have perished in the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. Years later, Mary Ellen hears of sightings of her "late" husband, investigates and finds him alive (played by another actor), but brooding over his war wounds and living under an assumed name. She divorces him and later remarries.

John-Boy's military plane is shot down, while Olivia becomes a volunteer at the VA hospital and is seen less and less. She eventually develops tuberculosis and enters an Arizona sanatorium. Olivia's cousin, Rose Burton, moves in at the Walton house to look after the family. Two years later, John Sr. moves to Arizona to be with Olivia. Grandma appears in only a handful of episodes during the eighth season. She was usually said to be visiting relatives in nearby Buckingham County. Consistent with the effects of Ellen Corby's actual stroke, Grandma rarely speaks during the remainder of the series, usually limited to uttering brief one-or two-word lines such as "No!" or "Oh, boy!"

Six feature-length movies were made after the series run. Set from 1947 to 1969, they aired between 1982 and 1997.


Main article: List of The Waltons episodes


The following is a brief summary of the main characters. See List of The Waltons characters for a more complete list.

Grandpa and Grandma Walton
  • John "John-Boy" Walton Jr. (Richard Thomas, seasons 1–5, guest season 6, three movie sequels; Robert Wightman, seasons 8–9 and one movie sequel), the eldest of the 7 children
  • John Walton Sr. (Ralph Waite, seasons 1-8, 8 episodes of season 9 and all movie sequels), the family patriarch (Andrew Duggan starred as John Sr. in The Homecoming movie only)
  • Olivia Walton (Michael Learned, seasons 1–7, guest season 8, and 4 movies), the matriarch (Patricia Neal, starred as Olivia in The Homecoming movie only)
  • Zebulon "Grandpa" Walton (Will Geer, seasons 1–6), John's father (Edgar Bergen starred as Zebulon in The Homecoming movie only)
  • Esther "Grandma" Walton (Ellen Corby, seasons 1–5 & 7, 2 episodes in seasons 6 and 8, and in 5 movies), John's mother
  • Jason Walton (Jon Walmsley, entire series and 6 movies), second-oldest brother; musically talented
  • Mary Ellen Walton (Judy Norton Taylor, entire series and 6 movies), headstrong oldest daughter; becomes a nurse
  • Erin Walton (Mary Elizabeth McDonough, entire series and 6 movies), second Walton daughter; works as a telephone operator and as manufacturing supervisor
  • Benjamin "Ben” Walton (Eric Scott, entire series and 6 movies), third Walton son; has an entrepreneurial spirit
  • James Robert "Jim-Bob" Walton (David W. Harper, entire series and 6 movies), youngest Walton son; mechanically inclined
  • Joseph Zebulon Walton, twin to "Jim Bob", died at birth (reference Season 4, episode 16 The Secret)
  • Elizabeth Walton (Kami Cotler, entire series and 6 movies), youngest of the 7 children
  • Ike Godsey Joe Conley, entire series, proprietor of the general mercantile
  • Corabeth Walton Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards), seasons 3-9, John Walton's cousin
  • Curtis Willard (Tom Bower, seasons 5–7, and 1 episode in season 9), Mary Ellen's husband
  • Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston, seasons 7-9 and 4 of the reunion movies), Ben's wife
  • Rose Burton (Peggy Rea, seasons 8–9 and 1 sequel), Olivia's matronly cousin who fills in as matriarch during Olivia's absence



Earl Hamner's rural childhood growing up in the unincorporated community of Schuyler, Virginia, provided the basis for the setting and many of the storylines of The Waltons. His family and the community provided many life experiences which aided in the characters, values, area, and human-interest stories of his books, movies, and television series. Hamner provided the voice-over of the older John-Boy, usually heard at the beginning and end of each episode.

John-Boy Walton's fictional alma mater, Boatwright University, is patterned after Richmond College, which became part of the University of Richmond on Boatwright Drive near Westham Station in The West End of Richmond, Virginia, about 70 miles east of Schuyler.

Television film[edit]

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971) was not made as a pilot for a series, but it was so popular that it led to CBS initially commissioning one season of episodes based on the same characters, and the result was The Waltons.[8] Except for the Walton children and Grandma Esther Walton, the characters were all recast for the TV series. The musical score was by Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith and was later released on an album by Film Score Monthly paired with James Horner's score for the 1982 TV movie Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. (Goldsmith also scored several episodes of the first season, but the producers believed his TV movie theme was too gentle and requested he write a new theme for the series.[9])

Patricia Neal (as Olivia) won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama. The movie was also nominated for 3 Emmys: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Neal), Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama - Adaptation (Earl Hamner), and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama - A Single Program (Fielder Cook).[10]


The town of Walton's Mountain was built in the rear area of the main lot at Warner Bros. Studios, bordering the Los Angeles River, but the mountain itself was part of the Hollywood Hills range opposite Warner studios in Burbank, California, the reverse side of which, and slightly to the east, is Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign. The Waltons house façade was built in the back of the Warner Brothers lot. After the series concluded, the set was destroyed. For the reunion shows, a replica Waltons' house façade was built on the Here Come the Brides set on the Columbia Ranch studio, now part of the Warner Brothers studios. The Waltons' house is still used as scenery at Warner Brothers. For example, it served as the Dragonfly Inn on Gilmore Girls.

Broadcast and release[edit]

Some sources indicate CBS put the show on its fall 1972 schedule in response to congressional hearings on the quality of television. Backlash from a 1971 decision to purge most rural-oriented shows from the network lineup may have also been a factor. The network gave The Waltons an undesirable timeslot – Thursdays at 8 p.m – opposite 2 popular programs: The Flip Wilson Show on NBC and The Mod Squad on ABC.[11] "The rumor was that they put it against Flip Wilson and The Mod Squad because they didn't think it would survive. They thought, 'We can just tell Congress America doesn't want to see this'," Kami Cotler, who played Elizabeth Walton, said in a 2012 interview.[11] However, CBS had enough faith in the show to devise a full-page newspaper ad flanked with the show's positive reviews, urging people to watch the show. Radically increased ratings were attributed to this ad, saving The Waltons.[12]

Ralph Waite was reluctant to audition for the part of John Walton because he didn't want to be tied to a long-running TV series, but his agent persuaded him by saying, "It will never sell. You do the pilot. You pick up a couple of bucks and then you go back to New York."[11]

The cast at the 40th Anniversary of the show in 2012



The Waltons won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1973. Also in 1973 Richard Thomas won the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Michael Learned won the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama Series 3 times (1973, 1974, and 1976). Ellen Corby was also a three-time winner in the Supporting Actress category, winning in 1973, 1975, and 1976. Will Geer was awarded the Supporting Actor Emmy in 1975. Veteran actress Beulah Bondi won an Emmy in 1977 for Lead Actress in a Single Performance for her guest appearance as Martha Corrine Walton in the episode "The Pony Cart" (Episode #111). She first appeared in The Waltons episode "The Conflict" (Episode #51) as the widow of Zeb Walton's brother.

The series itself earned a Peabody Award for its first season.[13] In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Waltons No. 34 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.[14]

In 2017, from March 20 to March 24 INSP network remembered the life of Earl Hamner Jr. (who had died in 2016) by featuring clips of interviews (once per episode) with him about his time involved with The Waltons during the breaks while its syndicated reruns aired from 3-5pm and again at 7pm.

Cultural significance[edit]

On January 27, 1992, then-President George H. W. Bush said, "We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons."[15] In response, The Simpsons made a short animated segment for a repeat showing of the episode "Stark Raving Dad", where the family watches the speech, and Bart remarks, "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're prayin' for an end to the Depression, too."[16]

Reunion movies[edit]

The Walton's Reunion Movie Collection:

  1. A Wedding on Walton's Mountain (1982)
  2. Mother's Day on Walton's Mountain (1982)
  3. A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain (1982)
  4. A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (1993)
  5. A Walton Wedding (1995)
  6. A Walton Easter (1997)

Home media[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

Warner Home Video has released all nine seasons and six TV movies of The Waltons on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 1–4 have been released in Region 2. The pilot movie, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, was released by Paramount Home Entertainment. Lorimar produced the series, CBS produced the pilot film, which is why Paramount, under CBS Home Entertainment, handles home video rights for The Homecoming.

German-release DVDs provide German or English soundtrack options, with dubbed German voices, or the original English soundtrack, although episode titles, in German, are not always either literal or precise translations of the original English-language titles.

DVD name Episodes
Region 1 Region 2 (UK) Region 4 (AU)
The Homecoming: A Christmas StoryN/A September 23, 2003 N/A N/A
The Complete 1st Season 24 May 11, 2004 November 1, 2004 November 11, 2015
The Complete 2nd Season 24 April 26, 2005 July 3, 2006 March 9, 2016
The Complete 3rd Season 24 April 25, 2006 September 11, 2006 May 11, 2016
The Complete 4th Season 24 January 23, 2007 March 5, 2007 July 13, 2016
The Complete 5th Season 24 May 8, 2007 September 12, 2007 March 15, 2017
The Complete 6th Season 22 January 8, 2008 March 20, 2008 August 9, 2017
The Complete 7th Season 23 April 29, 2008 N/A November 8, 2017
The Complete 8th Season 24 January 6, 2009 N/A March 7, 2018
The Complete 9th Season 22 April 28, 2009 N/A March 7, 2018
TV Movie Collection (not including the original movie) 6 January 26, 2010 N/A N/A


Seasons 1–9 are available via streaming in SD as well as HD through services such as Amazon Prime Video.[17]


Lorimar sold the distribution rights of The Waltons to Warner Bros. Television to avoid a lawsuit owing to the similarities between the series and the film Spencer's Mountain (1963), which Warner owned.[18] Warner Bros. acquired Lorimar in 1989, and has continued to syndicate the series ever since.

Reruns have aired in the U.S. on MeTV since January 1, 2020,[19] and also on INSP and Hallmark Drama, and formerly aired on Hallmark Channel. In Canada, The Waltons airs on Vision TV and BookTelevision.

In the UK, the series was broadcast on BBC 2 and BBC 1 and during the 1970s/1980s – the first 3 seasons were broadcast on BBC 2 from February 18, 1974[20] to May 17, 1976,[21] on Mondays at 20.00 GMT, and seasons 4 and 5 were shown on BBC 1 from September 5, 1976[22] to August 30, 1977,[23] on Sundays at 16.10 in 1976 and Tuesdays at 19.00 through 1977. After that, seasons 6-9 would be broadcast on BBC 2 again, starting on April 30, 1979[24] and concluding in April 1983.[25] The 3 reunion TV movies filmed in 1982 were also shown on BBC 2 from December 21 to December 28, 1983.[26][27][28] The show was repeated on Channel 4 in the 1990s. It last aired on Sony Channel until March 31, 2020 in the UK.

See also[edit]

  • These Are the Days; animated TV series produced by Hanna-Barbera which was inspired by The Waltons


  1. ^"The Waltons" The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971) at IMDb
  2. ^"All About The Creator". All About The Waltons. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  3. ^"Goodnight John Boy". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
  4. ^"The Typewriter", Season one, episode 5
  5. ^A significant anachronism occurs in the first season. In the first episode, the Waltons listen to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy's radio program (in tribute to Bergen, who played Grandpa in the pilot film). However, Bergen's radio show did not begin airing until 1937.
  6. ^"The Foundling," season 1, episode 1
  7. ^ ab"Ratings info"(PDF). Retrieved 2020-06-29.
  8. ^Crump, William D. (2013). The Christmas encyclopedia (Third ed.). p. 434. ISBN .
  9. ^Jon Burlingame, p. 153, TV's Biggest Hits: The Story Of Television Themes From "Dragnet" To "Friends", Schirmer Books, 1996, ISBN 0-02-870324-3
  10. ^"The Homecoming-A Christmas Story".
  11. ^ abcKing, Susan (2012-09-28). "40th anniversary celebration of 'The Waltons'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-04-30.[dead link]
  12. ^IV, J. Garland Pollard. "Earl Hamner and the CBS Brand | BrandlandUSA". Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  13. ^"The Waltons". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  14. ^"TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time". 23 December 2013.
  15. ^Griffiths, Nick (April 15, 2000). "America's First Family". The Times Magazine. pp. 25, 27–28. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014.
  16. ^Ortved, John (August 2007). "Simpson Family Values". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on August 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
  17. ^Prime Video: The Waltons: The Complete First Season Retrieved October 22, 2013
  18. ^Lee Rich Interview: Archive of American Television. Retrieved on June 14, 2014.
  19. ^"The Waltons, Adam-12 and Dragnet join the MeTV schedule in January". Me-TV Network. 14 December 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  20. ^"BBC Two England - 18 February 1974 - BBC Genome".
  21. ^"BBC Two England - 17 May 1976 - BBC Genome".
  22. ^"BBC One London - 5 September 1976 - BBC Genome".
  23. ^"BBC One London - 30 August 1977 - BBC Genome".
  24. ^"BBC Two England - 30 April 1979 - BBC Genome".
  25. ^"BBC Two England - 29 March 1983 - BBC Genome".
  26. ^"BBC Two England - 21 December 1983 - BBC Genome".
  27. ^"BBC Two England - 23 December 1983 - BBC Genome".
  28. ^"BBC Two England - 28 December 1983 - BBC Genome".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards for The Waltons

Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama

  • Marcus Welby, M.D., season 1 (1969)
  • Medical Center, season 1/season 2 (1970)
  • Mannix, season 4/season 5 (1971)
  • Columbo, season 1/season 2 (1972)
  • The Waltons, season 1/season 2 (1973)
  • Upstairs, Downstairs, season 3/season 4 (1974)
  • Kojak, season 2/season 3 (1975)
  • Rich Man, Poor Man (1976)
  • Roots (1977)
  • 60 Minutes (1978)
  • Lou Grant, season 2/season 3 (1979)
  • Shōgun (1980)
  • Hill Street Blues, season 1/season 2 (1981)
  • Hill Street Blues, season 2/season 3 (1982)
  • Dynasty, season 3/season 4 (1983)
  • Murder, She Wrote, season 1 (1984)
  • Murder, She Wrote, season 1/season 2 (1985)
  • L.A. Law, season 1 (1986)
  • L.A. Law, season 1/season 2 (1987)
  • thirtysomething, season 1/season 2 (1988)
  • China Beach, season 2/season 3 (1989)
  • Twin Peaks, season 1/season 2 (1990)
  • Northern Exposure, season 2/season 3 (1991)
  • Northern Exposure, season 3/season 4 (1992)
  • NYPD Blue, season 1 (1993)
  • The X-Files, season 1/season 2 (1994)
  • Party of Five, season 1/season 2 (1995)
  • The X-Files, season 3/season 4 (1996)
  • The X-Files, season 4/season 5 (1997)
  • The Practice, season 2/season 3 (1998)
  • The Sopranos, season 1 (1999)
  • The West Wing, season 1/season 2 (2000)
  • Six Feet Under, season 1 (2001)
  • The Shield, season 1 (2002)
  • 24, season 2/season 3 (2003)
  • Nip/Tuck, season 2 (2004)
  • Lost, season 1/season 2 (2005)
  • Grey's Anatomy, season 2/season 3 (2006)
  • Mad Men, season 1 (2007)
  • Mad Men, season 2 (2008)
  • Mad Men, season 3 (2009)
  • Boardwalk Empire, season 1 (2010)
  • Homeland, season 1 (2011)
  • Homeland, season 2 (2012)
  • Breaking Bad, season 5, part II (2013)
  • The Affair, season 1 (2014)
  • Mr. Robot, season 1 (2015)
  • The Crown, season 1 (2016)
  • The Handmaid's Tale, season 1 (2017)
  • The Americans, season 6 (2018)
  • Succession, season 2 (2019)
  • The Crown, season 4 (2020)
A Walk Down Memory Lane with the cast of ‘The Waltons'

Character Picture Album

A photo album of recurring/important characters and their actors.

The Walton Family
Other Important Characters
Recurring Characters Grid

Below is a link to a matrix of the appearances of all recurring characters in the show. (Let me know if you find any mistakes – email address is below).

Characters are down the side; episodes are across the top (with episode numbers). Each season is given a different color. Recurring characters where the actor changes are given separate entries. Characters are in order of first apperance. The header row/column is repeated every so often for convenience.

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Waltons characters the

List of The Waltons characters

Wikipedia list article

The Waltons is an American television series that aired for nine seasons (1972–1981) on CBS. A further six TV movies aired in the 1980s and 1990s. Below is a list of the series characters and the actors that portrayed them.

Main characters[edit]

John "John-Boy" Walton Jr.[edit]

John Walton Jr. (Richard Thomas, pilot, seasons 1–5, two guest shots in season 6; and three 1990s movies; Robert Wightman, seasons 8–9, 1982 movies). This first Walton child is known throughout the series as "John-Boy," is born in 1916, is the eldest son, and is child of Olivia Walton (née Daly) and John Walton Sr. John-Boy is based on author Earl Hamner Jr., who narrates the opening and closing of each episode as the present day adult John-Boy. The main character of the series, who is also the oldest of seven surviving children, aged 17 in season one (15 in the pilot), John-Boy is a serious thinker and avid reader with a passion to become a writer. He constantly records his thoughts about his family, friends, and circumstances, and writes stories in a journal/diary. Normally a calm, quiet sort, John-Boy occasionally displays a touch of his father's and brother Ben's fiery tempers, and can become defensive and indignant when a situation warrants it. He is sensitive and empathetic, although he can occasionally be gullible, selfish, and self-absorbed. He is deeply touched by tragic events, such as when watching the Hindenburg disaster unfold and being injured trying to rescue people from it. Prior to World War II breaking out, John-Boy is the only member of his family seriously concerned about the rise of Adolf Hitler, and is infuriated when his community attempts to burn German books in response to hearing about Nazis doing the same to American books. After becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college, he moves to New York City to fulfill his dream of becoming an author. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlists in the military and writes as a war correspondent for the U.S. Army's newspaperStars and Stripes.

In season 8, he is formally reintroduced to the story once his parents learn he is missing in action. For weeks, John-Boy's location and condition is unknown to his family. Unbeknownst to them, his plane, the "Katey Anne," was shot down and crashed into the sea near Britain while he was out looking for war stories. He and the pilot were forced to tread water for hours at a time to stay afloat, but after growing exhausted, his comrade succumbed to his injuries and drowned, while John-Boy, who had suffered extreme head trauma, lost consciousness as he was rescued from the sea. Due to the severity of his injuries, he slipped into a lengthy coma and was flown back to America to undergo medical care, leaving his parents to wait on his recovery. When he at last emerged from his coma, he was stricken with slight amnesia from the traumatic injury he suffered to his head, and no longer could participate in the war.

After World War II ended, he tried to return to New York at the promise of an opportunity waiting for him to tell his story, like many other veterans, but lack of demand for wartime books due to an over-saturated market of war stories knocked his story from publishers' consideration. He returned to Walton's Mountain to briefly teach courses in the new television department at fictional Boatwright University. John-Boy then turned his attention to reporting news instead and gained a steady means of living once more, but would one day have to break the news of the John F. Kennedy assassination. It was in this profession that he finally found the love of his life in the form of Janet, and they eventually married. Their first children were twins, born during the Easter special.

John Walton Sr.[edit]

Family patriarch John, called Daddy by his children, (pilot, Andrew Duggan; series and sequels, Ralph Waite) is a hard-working, industrious man who runs a small family sawmill on his property on Walton's Mountain. He is the second son of Esther Walton (née Morgan) and Zebulon Tyler Walton. He is the husband of Olivia Walton (née Daly) and father of John "John-Boy" Walton Jr., Jason Walton, Mary Ellen Walton, Erin Esther Walton, Benjamin "Ben" Walton II, James Robert "Jim-Bob" Walton and his stillborn twin brother Joseph Zebulon Walton, and Elizabeth Tyler Walton. He is usually good-natured, wise, and fearless, ready to stand up to a challenge and tell things straight. These personality traits sometimes cause him to be brash, even towards his children and wife on occasion, and when greatly stressed, he is prone to overwork to the point of "workaholism." John deeply loves his wife, and calls her “Liv” or “Livie.”

John graduated high school in 1911 (implying he had been born about 1893) and served in World War I. John will do anything to protect his family; he also wishes to see all of his children graduate from college, which he was unable to do. Despite his Baptist upbringing he, like his father Zeb, is distrustful of organized religion, though he is by no means an atheist. He holds life sacred and honors God as the creator of it. He does not approve of hunting animals for sport, but will hunt to provide food for his family. Despite his rejection of the Baptist church (we later learn he never underwent baptism during his lifetime), his wife calls him "the most God-fearing man I know."[1]

We are told in the pilot movie that he dies in the year 1969 (the year in which Earl Hamner's father died).

In 2004, TV Guide ranked him # 3 on its "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" list.[2]

Olivia Daly Walton[edit]

Olivia, also known as Liv, Livie, or Mama, (pilot, Patricia Neal; series, Michael Learned) is John Walton's soft-spoken, patient, loving wife, who complements his tough-skinned, opinionated nature. She is the sister of Frances Daly of Edgemont. She has seven living children: John Walton Jr., Jason Walton, Mary Ellen Walton, Erin Esther Walton, Benjamin Walton II, James Robert Walton, and Elizabeth Tyler Walton. An eighth child, Jim-Bob's twin brother Joseph Zebulon Walton, died at birth. Olivia also suffered a miscarriage in season two. She is usually gentle but firm and unafraid to speak up or administer discipline when needed. She especially hates being in debt. Like her mother-in-law Esther Walton, she is a devout Southern Baptist, although her husband doesn't share her commitment to the organized religion of the church. Her Baptist faith extends to the home, and she punishes the children by telling them to read a chapter from the Bible. She is willing to open her home to friends or strangers in need, but, during early seasons, is uncomfortable with her family associating with the Baldwin sisters because she strongly disapproves of their unknowing production of homemade liquor (moonshine), which they refer to as "Papa's Recipe," She is especially disturbed to learn that John-Boy borrows an antique typewriter from them and that Mary Ellen unknowingly sells it to the traveling junk dealer, as she won't have her family indebted to the Baldwins. (Olivia, along with the rest of the Walton's Mountain community, more warmly embraces the Baldwin sisters during later seasons.) Though she is mostly grounded and content with her life, Olivia also displays a dreamy side of her personality and a thirst for novelty, as seen, for example, in “The Airmail Man” (season two) where she dreams of flying in an airplane, and in “The Rebellion” (season five) when she gets a perm. She is also a natural artist. After John's brother Ben was killed in World War I, she resolved to never see another family member off to war and declined to be present when Mary Ellen's husband Curt shipped out for active duty. When her own sons got involved in the war as a result of the Pearl Harbor attack, she changed her mind.

Her background and family are not referenced to the same degree as John's. It is known that she displayed budding artistic talent in high school and considered going to college on a scholarship but instead chose to marry John Walton when she was 16 and settle down as a homemaker. It is implied she had John-Boy within a year or so of her marriage, setting her birth year around 1897-98.

She is content that she made the right choice to become a wife and mother.

She survives polio in a two-hour special at the end of the first season, and develops tuberculosis later in the series.

Olivia overcomes her health challenges and becomes an active senior citizen; in the final reunion movie she is working as a school teacher at the Walton's Mountain school where daughter Erin has become principal. It is implied Olivia completed college courses to qualify for this job.

In a 1999 Archive of American Television interview, executive producer Earl Hamner Jr. stated that, when transitioning from the film to the TV series, he chose to recast the role of Olivia because he did not think that Patricia Neal's health would allow her to commit to the grind of a weekly television series. In her 1979 memoir, Neal suggested that she would have accepted the role, had it been offered to her.

Zebulon Tyler Walton[edit]

The Walton family elder, Grandpa Walton (Pilot, Edgar Bergen; seasons 1–6, Will Geer), husband of Esther Walton (née Morgan), and father of Benjamin Walton, who was killed in World War I, John Walton, Sr., and an unknown Walton child (early in the first season, Zeb is showing John Boy military medals stored in a trunk, and mentions that they belonged to John Boy's Uncle "Matt" (S1E5). It can be logically assumed that since the medals are in Zeb's possession, rather than Olivia's parents, that this is the name of the third child, and that since they are military in nature, like Ben the elder, he never made it home from the great war.) Referred to as "Zeb" to friends, "Zeb" or "old man" by his wife Esther (who in turn is lovingly referred to as "old woman" or “old girl”), "Pa" by his son John, "Grandpa" by Olivia and the rest of the family, and "the Grandfather" in show credits, likes to spend his time working with John in the sawmill, fishing, and playing with and teaching his grandkids. As hardworking as son John, Grandpa is much more easygoing in general and has a mischievous yet wise and vibrant personality. An example of this was in one episode, when one of his grandchildren tried smoking and he caught them, and got them to stop the same way his father taught him: he had the boys smoke cigarettes, one after another, until they were sick. Grandma, John Sr., and Olivia didn't approve of his methods. He especially cherishes his wife (and vice versa), although he can often be found alone relaxing with the Baldwin sisters, happily sipping their "Recipe" (moonshine). He also tends to distrust his wife's Baptist church,[3][4] although he has a deep love and respect for God. He served in the Spanish–American War (although he dramatized his involvement by telling tall tales to his grandchild despite Esther's indignation at the very idea) and is an amateur botanist like Will Geer himself. He has the habit of making ornate prayers at the dinner table and sometimes ends them with "awomen" in respect to "amen", and dislikes the use of the phrase, "The Civil War", preferring "The War Between the States". Esther often complained about his rotund figure and tried to get him to diet, worrying about his heart. This was exemplified in the episode "The Birthday"; as he was about to turn 73, he suffered a major heart attack and was bedridden for weeks on end. He often joked that he would live to 100, but in the end, he suffered a second and final heart attack three years later, missing his goal by about a quarter of a century.

Geer's death from respiratory failure during the post-season-six hiatus is reflected in the opening episode of the seventh season. It is learned that Grandpa had suddenly died while planting seedlings on Walton's Mountain and was buried on the mountain with a simple headstone plate reading: ZEBULON WALTON 1865–1941. During the remainder of the series, and at least three of the reunion specials, he is frequently remembered by other characters; a photo of Geer hanging in the Walton living room is often visible to viewers, and sometimes even moves, which Esther takes as a sign of his spirit interacting with the photo and letting the rest of the family know he is still with them.

In the German dubbed version, the name of Zebulon "Zeb" Walton was changed to Samuel "Sam" Walton. The television network ZDF which first aired The Waltons in Germany was worried that the name "Zeb" could be mistaken with "Sepp" which is a Bavarian short form of the name Joseph and could be seen as being a cliché.

Esther Walton[edit]

Grandma (Ellen Corby), practical but feisty and quick-tempered, makes a strong effort to stick to the straight and narrow and get things done. "Grandma" Esther (née Morgan), is the wife of Zebulon Tyler ("Grandpa" Zeb) Walton and the mother of Benjamin "Ben" Walton. who was killed in World War I; John Walton Sr., husband of Olivia (née Daly); and their unknown sibling. Like her husband, Grandma has plenty of wisdom to share with family and friends, peppered with the occasional "Good Lord!" (when surprised, indignant, or both) or bestowing a cheekily-loving "You old fool!" on her husband. In her youth, she was nicknamed "Sissy" and had the dream of becoming a seamstress and opening her own business in Charlottesville [Season 2, Episode 15: The Awakening, revealed to John Boy by Zeb], and Zeb often wonders if she found happiness in lieu of her dreams not amounting to much over time. In 1977, Ellen Corby's real life stroke was incorporated into the storyline and forced her to leave the show for a long period of recovery. Unfortunately, the effects of her stroke impaired her ability to speak cohesively and severely limited her dialogue thereafter, making it difficult for her character to communicate without having to convey her feelings through the voices of other characters indicating what she wants to say or do for her, or for her to physically write out her feelings. Corby's absence from the latter half of season five, and having her role drastically reduced from then on, was explained as Grandma frequently visiting relations in nearby Buckingham County. Corby was able to return for the sixth season's finale; she returned to being a regular cast member during season seven, though Corby's health forced her to drop to recurring status from season eight onward, only appearing in a few episodes per season; she appeared in five of the six reunion specials. An older John-Boy would go on to mention that "both of my grandparents are no longer alive", suggesting that Esther died in the later future, but no earlier than 1969 (the same year her son John was said to have died). Her third child was never mentioned by name nor seen in the series. (Correction: In the first season Zeb is seen showing John-Boy medals in a trunk, belonging to John-Boy's "Uncle Matt". S1E5)

Jason Walton[edit]

Jason (Jon Walmsley) was born in the winter of 1918, second son and child of John ("Daddy") Walton and Olivia ("Mama," Liv) Walton (née Daly); grandson of Zebulon Tyler ("Grandpa" Zeb) Walton and Esther ("Grandma") Walton (née Morgan); nephew of Benjamin ("Uncle" Ben) Walton, an unknown aunt or uncle Walton, and Frances Daly who lives in Edgemont; brother of John-Boy Walton, Mary Ellen Walton, Benjamin (Ben) Walton, Erin Esther Walton, James Robert (Jim-Bob) Walton and his stillborn twin brother Joseph Zebulon Walton, and Elizabeth Tyler Walton, 1st Cousin of Olivia, and cousin-in-law of Bob Hill. Jason has a good relationship with all his siblings, but is especially close to his older brother John-Boy. Though the two brothers have very different personalities and interests, they get along very well. The two became very close when John-Boy began college and their bond grew even stronger as the years went by. Age 15 in season one, he is a somewhat-introverted but good-natured musician who enjoys composing music for harmonica, guitar, and piano, some of which graced the show. He is a favorite of the Baldwin sisters, who often ask him to play the piano and sing for them. In season three, Jason attends the Kleinberg Conservatory of Music; in season four he lands a job playing honkytonk piano at local tavern The Dew Drop Inn (which he later comes to own), much to Grandma's and Olivia's chagrin. In season five, Jason joins the National Guard to earn some extra money. In season seven, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he struggles with the idea of killing another man and considers becoming a conscientious objector. He ultimately decides against this, and by season eight he joins the Army and is promoted to the rank of sergeant. While stationed as a drill instructor in the fictitious Camp Rockfish near Walton's Mountain, he meets a beautiful WAC sergeant, Antoinette “Toni” Hazelton, who is also musically talented. Though Jason initially gets on Toni's nerves, they eventually fall in love and marry. They have several children, all named after country singers of the time.

Mary Ellen Walton-Willard-Jones[edit]

Mary Ellen (Judy Norton Taylor) is the eldest of Olivia and John's daughters and third child, born in April 1920, aged 13 in season one. Throughout the first few seasons, she is a typically whiny, stubborn, sometimes rebellious teenager. While something of a tomboy who enjoyed playing baseball, Mary Ellen was also prone to melodrama and vanity, engaging in a rivalry with “rich girl” Martha Rose Coverdale for the affections of the awkward but warm-hearted G.W. Haines (David Doremus). Mary Ellen matures into a much wiser young woman and her childish fantasy of becoming a movie star gives way for a more reasonable and realistic ambition to go into medicine after reading up on it and developing an interest. Mary Ellen was also influenced by the county nurse, Nora Jones. She then works to gain an education as a medical worker, and becomes a nurse. However, when she ends up taking care of the people out in the country by herself, she concludes they need more medical expertise than she can offer them and continues studying medicine until she succeeds in becoming a fully-fledged doctor. Even though some people frowned upon the idea of female doctors and she receives mixed support from her family, she refuses to let this stop her. Mary Ellen has a special relationship with each of her six siblings, but she is especially close to her younger sister Erin.

In season five, Mary Ellen marries Dr. Curtis Willard (Curt), the town's new physician, and breaks off a prior engagement to medical intern David Spencer that she had rushed in to. In season six, they welcome a son, John Curtis Willard. In season seven, Mary Ellen receives a telegram notifying her that Curt has been killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, but in season nine she learns he is still alive, using an assumed name. When she journeys to find him, she discovers that he has changed a lot, including being unable to engage in sexual relations on account of his injuries, and realizes that trying to continue their relationship is pointless because the war has traumatized him to the point of losing nearly all of his compassion and his desires. Mary Ellen finally lets go of Curt upon seeing he no longer wants to be a doctor or a husband, but keeps him as a friend who still shows affection towards their baby. She divorces him and finds a new beau, Jonesy, whom she met during the time she believed Curt had been killed and whom she had nearly married beforehand. Although this engagement is threatened once, she ends up marrying him in the second reunion movie, Mother's Day on Walton's Mountain. During their honeymoon, she has an accident and is told she cannot have more children, but by the fourth reunion movie, she has had two more, Clay and Katie, by Jonesy (who does not appear). In the "Walton Thanksgiving Reunion," set in 1963, Mary Ellen is called a "war widow," indicating that the divorce-shy have adopted an honorific white lie on her behalf.

Benjamin "Ben" Walton[edit]

Ben (Eric Scott) is named for his father John's brother Ben, who was killed in France during World War I. Born in 1921, Fourth-born Ben seems to get into trouble at precisely the wrong times and possesses fiery red hair and a temper to match. He has a bright mind and an entrepreneurial spirit but sometimes falls for get-rich-quick schemes and needs his father or John-Boy to bail him out. Even as an adult, running the sawmill in partnership with his father, he makes deals that don't turn out well. As an adolescent, he takes many jobs and strives to prove his maturity to the family, who he believed looked on him as a “child.” Underneath his quick temper and bravado, Ben is a kind, compassionate person who cares very deeply for his family. He elopes with sweet, pretty Cindy Brunson and together they have two children, daughter Virginia (Ginny) and son Charles Benjamin (Charlie), who was born in the second reunion movie. In season eight, Ben joins the Seabees and is taken prisoner by the Japanese. He and a fellow soldier, Norm, are taken to American troops during the episode “The Last Ten Days” (season nine) by a Japanese prison guard, who surrendered to them to preserve his life. Ben then returns home. At various times, Ben has run the mill with his father, Elizabeth's boyfriend Drew, and Erin's husband Paul Northridge. In the fourth reunion movie, it is revealed that Ben and Cindy lost Ginny in a drowning accident and that they are considering adopting another child (Charlie is never seen nor mentioned). Their heartbreak at losing their child and the emptiness that followed nearly tore them apart, but both of them tearfully admitted they needed to move on and find a new child to love, causing Ben to accept the idea of adoption after much resistance.

Erin Esther Walton[edit]

Erin (Mary Elizabeth McDonough), the fifth-born child and second daughter of Olivia Walton (née Daly) and John Walton Sr. Erin is very close to her older sister Mary Ellen, though they often fight, especially in the early seasons. As a child, Erin is a bit bossy and somewhat of a tattletale. She aspires to become a wife and mother, in direct contrast to Mary Ellen's ambitions. As she matures, Erin becomes an effective manager and a bright worker. Erin is considered the pretty one in the family, not the scholar, and she falls in love many times throughout her teenage years. She was born in 1922. She works as a telephone operator early in season five while she is finishing high school. She struggles to find her place, as she is not as musical like Jason, not an academic like John-Boy, and not interested in medicine like Mary Ellen. She takes a part-time job at a business college to buy a typewriter for John-Boy when the owner sees her answering and assisting callers at the unattended front desk. She is allowed to work her way through the business school and later becomes the executive secretary to Mr. Pringle, and then personnel manager to loudmouthed businessman J.D. Pickett, a defense plant owner during the war. Later, she becomes the plant's assistant manager.

Almost all of Erin's romances are ill-fated: the object of her affections either dies or proves to have poor character. Eventually she meets and marries Paul Northridge; they have three children: Susan, Amanda, and Peter. It is later revealed (in the fourth of the six post-series reunion movies) that they are divorced as Paul had become unfaithful. Erin has earned a teaching certificate, and by the final reunion movie she is a school principal.

James Robert "Jim-Bob" Walton[edit]

James Robert (David W. Harper), better known as Jim-Bob, is the youngest Walton boy. He and Joseph Zebulon were born on January 13, 1924 but only he survived-(his twin was stillborn).[5] Jim-Bob is the only Walton child who was born in a hospital, rather than at home. As a teenager, he passes his older brother Ben in height. He is particularly close to his younger sister Elizabeth. He is fascinated by airplanes and aspires to become a pilot; however, increasingly poor eyesight forces him to give up this dream. Due to his passion for the Air Corps, Jim-Bob is compelled to get a tattoo of their insignia, which he later regrets. He eventually becomes a mechanic and opens his own business just opposite Ike's general store. As he grows up, he scraps together the parts to build his own car, which tends to break down from its ramshackle construction. After being unable to decide what color to make it, he paints it yellow when Elizabeth teasingly suggests such. Following an incident at a bar where he and Jodie get involved in a wreck by joyriding while still in the throes of post-war glee, he sells the vehicle to compensate for the damages and plans to build another. Jim-Bob has several girlfriends throughout the series, including Ike and Corabeth's adopted daughter (and Elizabeth's friend and adoptive cousin) Aimee Godsey and a foreign woman who feigned pregnancy to trick him into marrying her and just as quickly was sent out of his life (though John-Boy wonders if Jim-Bob is still seeing her in secret and not telling the rest of his family), but he never truly settles down with anybody to the knowledge of his family. Instead, he becomes a portly hermit living in an airplane hangar right next to an adjacent airfield where he sometimes offers to fly people around and routinely works on planes. Jim-Bob's birthdate is another example of timeline error in the series: Trying to enlist in the military after the Pearl Harbor attack, he's told that he's too young. If his birthdate was January 1923, he would have been going-on-19 in December 1941. Later he is shown graduating as valedictorian of the Class of 1944 in episode 188 "The Valedictorian." However, in the season three episode "The Runaway," he mentions that his birth date is June 13, 1924.

Elizabeth Tyler Walton[edit]

Elizabeth (Kami Cotler) is the youngest child of John and Olivia Walton. She was born in fall 1927 and age 6 when the series began. By the end of season five, John-Boy refers to Elizabeth as 12 and small for her age. She has her 13th birthday in season seven's Halloween episode. She is free-spirited and outspoken, but sensitive, and in later seasons she's shown to share John-Boy's love of reading and knack for writing. Her best friend is her cousin, Aimee Godsey. As a teenager, Elizabeth often babysits her nieces and nephews. Later she travels in Europe and gets into a relationship that dissolves right as she plans to get married; she joins the Peace Corps in one of the sequel movies. Tony Becker portrays her boyfriend Drew, who goes through a failed marriage in spite of not getting together with Elizabeth when she goes off to Europe, leading them to rekindle their original romantic feelings like they really wanted to; in the final sequel movie, she and Drew get engaged.

Ike Godsey[edit]

A close friend of the Walton family and second cousin-in-law of John Walton Sr., Isaac B. "Ike" Godsey[6] (Joe Conley) is the proprietor of the General Mercantile, the postmaster, and only garage mechanic in Walton's Mountain until teenage Jim-Bob Walton opens a garage across the road from the Mercantile. Ike has a kind heart, and often lets people have anything they want on credit, and pay him back whenever they can, much to the disapproval of Corabeth. This is a constant source of friction and arguments. She tends to refuse people credit when Ike is out on business, and even while he is watching. Unfortunately for Ike, Corabeth doesn't agree with the way the store is run, so she takes it upon herself to do it herself, believing she can run the store better than Ike. After Corabeth refuses to listen to Ike, he has no option but to speak to John and Olivia about his problem and to ask them to speak to her. He is a World War I veteran, having served alongside John Walton and Sheriff Bridges. During World War II, he serves as the town's Civil Defense warden. He offers the use of extra space in the Mercantile as a classroom when a fanatic burns down the schoolhouse. He eventually marries John's distant cousin Corabeth and they adopt a daughter, Aimee. Later on, Ike suffers a heart attack brought on by stress and is forced to limit his activities as shopkeeper. He is implied to pass away many years later when an older John-Boy remarks that "Ike's gone now." In Season 8, Episode 22 ("The Furlough"), his full name is revealed as Isaac Aloysius Godsey, after a clerical error at an Army induction center transposed numbers in his birth date, which was revealed as September 24, 1901.

Corabeth Walton Godsey[edit]

In season three, John's second cousin Corabeth Walton (Ronnie Claire Edwards) arrives in Walton's Mountain after her mother's death. After years of caring for her invalid parents, Corabeth is nervous and shy and has retreated into a shell. She holds some resentment toward her sister, Orma Lee (Edwards in a dual role), who left Corabeth to care for their parents and has since married four times. Olivia and Esther encourage her and build her self-esteem so she can express her interest in storekeeper/family friend Ike Godsey. They eventually marry and adopt a daughter, Aimee Louise. Whether they marry out of love or mutual loneliness is explored throughout the series. Marriage and motherhood cause Corabeth to flower into an eccentric, self-refined aspiring socialite—and the town busybody. She deals with several private battles: alcoholism, depression, temptation to infidelity, and her intense longing to forever abandon the rural backwater for a more cultured, cosmopolitan life. In later seasons she dresses in a flamboyant, urban manner with trendy hairstyles and bold dresses and suits, out of place with the Walton women and the conservative rural area. She is innovative, and improves the yard goods and millinery departments at Godsey's store. Humorously, she always addresses her husband as "Mr. Godsey" except for intimate private moments. Despite her desire to live someplace other than Walton's Mountain, Corabeth does seem to genuinely like and care for the Walton family. She regards Olivia as a friend, and attempts to help Jim-Bob with his studies, encouraging him to follow his dreams. Later in the series she becomes a real-estate agent for the area.

Cindy Brunson Walton[edit]

Ben's passionate love interest, introduced in the season 7 episode "Day of Infamy;" played by Robin Eisenman. Leslie Winston played Cindy from 1979 to 1981. She drives a characteristic red car and has a provocative reputation that earned her the nickname "Sinful Cindy" based on people's surface judgments of her. The real Cindy is sweet, caring, spirited, and hardworking. Ben suddenly decided to elope with her without consulting his family, which made them worry that he hadn't thought the decision through, but the couple proved to be sound as they became the parents of a healthy baby girl, Virginia, named after Cindy's home. When Ben becomes one of the Seabees, Cindy endures raising a child alone and having limited contact with her husband. During World War II's final days, Ben is taken prisoner by Japanese soldiers and Cindy has a vision warning her of this danger, but the atomic bombings in Japan result in his release from captivity and safe return home.

Cindy's parentage is a sensitive topic for her. When she was little her mother became ill and died, which greatly upset her, and she becomes angry whenever people show disrespect for their mothers, or disregard for their children, she becomes angry. In the season 9 episode "The Carousel," her father was caught in a storm while driving out to see her. He ran off the road and wrecked his car in the poor visibility, which caused his death. At his funeral, a mysterious woman appeared among the crowd, triggering memories from Cindy's early childhood. She learned that she had been adopted at birth. She investigated the matter further until she was able to make contact with the woman again and discover that this was her biological mother, who had been forced to give her up because Cindy's father had died before she was born and she wasn't able to raise a child alone. Later she married, and her husband figured out that she had a child out there somewhere. He lovingly responded to an ad in the papers Cindy placed to find her mother, and although the woman was remorseful about the situation and reluctant to claim her daughter, Cindy wanted her back in her life and the two reconciled. In a case of dramatic irony, Cindy would end up considering adoption after a tragic event caused her own daughter to drown, which drove her to the brink of despair. When she expressed a longing to take in a family-less child, Ben decided that he could learn to love such a child as much as she would.

Rose Burton Perkins[edit]

Rose Burton (Peggy Rea) is a Walton cousin who was introduced in season 8. After Esther's role in the series begins to diminish and the Walton children are grown up, she and her grandchildren Jeffery and Serena show up at their house looking for a place to stay, and Rose is desperate to find a safe haven from their old residence in Baltimore. Rose's husband Burt Burton, a train conductor, has long since died and their son, who is enlisted in the military, also lost his spouse. Without his wife to help raise his children, he lapsed into alcoholism and became horribly abusive to his children; after he hit Jeffery with a belt, Rose immediately took her grandchildren as far away from their father as she could even though it pained her to never want to see her own son again.

Rose often mentions her old beau Stanley Perkins, a dancer whom she met before Burt. Eventually, Stanley reenters her life and proposes to her on two occasions. The second time, Rose discovers she has a weak heart and won't be able to travel around like he does. When Stanley insists that his love for her is greater than his desire to travel, they marry and go on a honeymoon.

Towards the end of the series, Rose moves in to help John, Mary Ellen, Erin, and Elizabeth with the housekeeping and cooking while John-Boy, Jason, Ben, and Jim-Bob are away at war.

The character briefly appears in the 1993 reunion special, A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, (set in 1963), as an employee of Erin's former in-laws, the Northridge family.

Dr. Curtis Willard (Curt)[edit]

Played by Tom Bower in the episodes leading up to the December 7, 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor. Declared a military casualty in the attack, he later shows up alive, played by Scott Hylands. He is found living in Florida under the name Curtis Packer.

Recurring characters[edit]

Mamie Baldwin[edit]

The older of the Baldwin sisters, a pair of relatively well-off elderly spinsterSouthern belles, Mamie (Helen Kleeb) is somewhat more sensible and grounded than her sister Emily. She and Emily carry on their father's legacy of making and distributing a product they refer to as "Papa's recipe" (or "the Recipe"), which they believe to be a harmless elixir and medicinal remedy, but which is in fact moonshine whiskey which they make using "Papa's machine" (a still). All the residents of Walton's Mountain are aware of the true nature of the recipe, but rarely discuss it with the sisters. Olivia and Grandma Walton, being devout tee-totalerBaptists, disapprove of the sisters' production of alcohol and generally try to discourage the family's association with them early in the series. However, in later seasons the Baldwin sisters become dear family friends, even taking in Jason following a devastating fire at the Waltons' home. In one episode later in the series Grandma Walton teaches Elizabeth how to bake and lets on that her secret to a particular cake tasting so good was using some of 'the recipe' in the cake mix, and during the eighth season, when Miss Mamie is too afraid to undergo cataract surgery to restore her failing vision, Grandma helps to persuade her to have the surgery. Prohibition has been repealed early in Roosevelt's presidency, and though the operation of an unlicensed still (as well as the selling of untaxed alcohol) is technically illegal, Sheriff Bridges considers the ladies' activities generally harmless as long as no one tries to sell the "recipe" (which a couple of their unscrupulous relatives try to do). Most of the other citizens of Walton's Mountain are quite fond of the Baldwin sisters.

Emily Baldwin[edit]

Emily Baldwin (Mary Jackson) is the slightly more eccentric Baldwin Sister. As a young girl, she was in love with handsome Ashley Longworth, until he disappeared. This was due to her father's interference, of which Emily was unaware until her sixties. Though she has never heard from Ashley for some fifty years, she is convinced that he will someday return to her. In season seven, Ashley's son Ashley Jr. (Jonathan Frakes), shows up in Walton's Mountain with news that his father is dead (but also that he loved Miss Emily for the remainder of his life). Ashley Jr. starts a romance with Erin Walton, to Emily's delight, but reveals that, on account of his wartime experiences, is an atheist, and Erin, on the advice of her mother, Olivia, breaks off the relationship. He returns after Erin is involved with Paul Northridge, creating a love triangle, and forcing Erin to choose between two suitors. (Erin ends up choosing Paul Northridge.)

Aimee Godsey[edit]

Aimee (Rachel Longaker) is the adopted daughter of Ike and Corabeth Godsey and best friend of Elizabeth Walton. Her parents died when she was young and the Godseys were compelled to adopt her after Corabeth had trouble becoming pregnant. Corabeth tries to tailor Aimee into a proper lady of culture and refinement even though she would rather be an ordinary country girl who enjoys the latest fashions and gets to adventure places. By season eight, her character no longer makes regular appearances on the show, and is said to have been placed in private school until returning in the reunion movies. In the fourth reunion movie, it comes to light that Aimee disobeyed her mother's wishes and got involved with someone she considered to be a ruffian, leading to many years of estrangement between the two of them. However, Aimee returns to Walton's Mountain now married to this man, with a baby, and the sight of her new grandchild is enough to touch Corabeth's heart and mend the rift between them, having admitted her mistake.

Rev. Matthew Fordwick[edit]

First appearing early in the first season ("The Sinner"), Rev. Matthew Fordwick (John Ritter) comes to the community fresh from Baptistseminary trained as a hardline Biblical legalist, until he accidentally gets himself drunk at a visit with the Baldwin sisters, who happen to be his distant cousins. This humbling experience causes him to adopt a more forgiving nature, and he serves as the pastor of the local Baptist church through season five. He marries the schoolteacher, Rosemary Hunter, in season four.

Rosemary Hunter Fordwick[edit]

Miss Hunter (Mariclare Costello) is Walton's Mountain's schoolteacher, teaching all ages from first grade through high school. As such, she teaches nearly all the county's children, including all of the Waltons. She is one of the first people to encourage John-Boy to pursue his writing, suggesting he submit his essays to various competitions, and helping him prepare for college. She later marries Rev. Matthew Fordwick. Together, they have a daughter named Mary Margret after Mary Ellen.

Verdie Grant Foster[edit]

Verdie Grant (Lynn Hamilton), is a middle-aged African-American widow (née Harris), with two adult sons and three daughters, the youngest of whom, Claire, is graduating from college in Richmond, and later suffers a failed marriage for her education. She has been illiterate most of her life, a fact which her fierce pride and mistrust based on bad experience with a white-dominated society has caused her to hide. But she decides to ask John-Boy to secretly teach her to read and write. After resolution of a misunderstanding caused by Elizabeth unknowingly revealing her secret to Miss Hunter, she completes her lessons and becomes a close friend of the Waltons, appearing in a total of 17 episodes. During later seasons, she marries Harley Foster (Hal Williams), an itinerant laborer (who it is later revealed was on the run trying to avoid conviction for a murder which he had not committed) and becomes stepmother to Harley's young son. The other of her sons, Josh, was an orphan who wandered onto Walton's mountain and the Fosters fell in love with and adopted. After her father died before she could ask him about his past, Verdie discovered an ornamental necklace among his belongings, sparking a desire to learn more about her heritage and ancestry, despite her husband's warnings not to pry into the ugliness of a bygone time. Because of the flood that hit the mountains years ago, she nearly lost the trail of her ancestry when records about her grandparents were nearly all destroyed. Verdie discovered they were both plague victims and her grandfather's involvement with slavery. Her search finally led her to the Unwin estate, where she found out that family once owned hers as slaves and the ornament belonged to her great-grandfather Seth Edu, who was renamed Randolph Harris and brought over from Africa. Verdie resolved to one day trace her family back to its roots, and if she couldn't, she would have her children take over in her place.

Sheriff Ep Bridges[edit]

Marmaduke Ephram "Ep" Bridges (John Crawford) is the Jefferson County sheriff, keeper of the peace in Walton's Mountain. He appeared in forty episodes, starting in the very first.[7] He, like John Walton and Ike Godsey, is a veteran of World War I, serving in the 2nd Infantry Division. After the war he married but became widowed, and has two grown sons. Though he is unquestionably the best man in the county for the sheriff's job, he needs the help of John-Boy's investigative journalism to survive a re-election threat from a charismatic, well-connected politician looking to use the office as a stepping stone to the state legislature. He refuses to discuss his war service until John-Boy researches an "Honor Day" celebration and discovers Ep was decorated for valor with the Medal of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre, and several others for destroying an enemy machine gun nest with a grenade, wounding himself in the process. He was haunted by the deaths he caused.[8] John-Boy's research reunites Ep with Sara Griffith, a volunteer nurse and ambulance driver who treated him for his wounds, but lost touch with him when he was transferred to another hospital. Not long after the reunion, Ep and Sara marry. Sheriff Bridges makes his last appearance in the second-to-last series episode, "The Hostage" (season 9, episode 20).

Sara Griffith Bridges[edit]

Sara Griffith (Lynn Carlin) is a Red Cross nurse working in the state capital, to whom John-Boy turns to research Ep Bridges' World War I service. It happens that she served in World War I, and is personally familiar with Ep's service because she treated him after he was wounded. They started a courting relationship, but lost touch when Ep was transferred to another hospital. Sarah visits Walton's Mountain to find Ep, and soon relocates there. After a bit of matchmaking by Olivia and John, Ep proposes and they marry. Her war experience as an ambulance driver gave her a knowledge of how to fix cars, which earns her Jim-Bob's adoration. She, along with Olivia and Corabeth, serves the Baptist church as part of a committee appointed to find a replacement for Reverend Fordwick.

Maude Gormley[edit]

Maude (Merie Earle) was an elderly woman who resided on Waltons Mountain. A talented folk artist, she discovered an artistic talent late in life, and began painting local scenes on pieces of plywood (which were later displayed and sold in Ike's store). Though a bit of a schemer, she nonetheless enjoyed a warm friendship with the Walton family, particularly Esther, whom she'd known for many decades.

G.W. Haines[edit]

George William "G.W." (David Doremus) is a very soft-spoken, somewhat naive boy who grows into a well-versed gentleman and a kindhearted friend to the Waltons. Initially, he shows an interest in Mary Ellen, but this later tapers away when both of them find complacency as remaining simple friends. Later, G.W.'s attentions fall on Erin as she matures, and this time he falls in love. However, by then, the outbreak of World War II has led him to join the Army, and places him in a troubling environment with many men who are sexually active and act crude and indecently around Erin as he tries to date her while upholding respect and civility where none can be found. G.W. resolves to confess his love for Erin and begin a serious relationship with her, perhaps the first one Erin was privileged to have organically transpire without it being forced upon her abruptly.

Sadly, a disastrous fate befalls G.W. when his kind heart gets the better of him in the season 6 episode "The First Casualty", as he prepared to go into active service. His regiment had been conducting a training exercise with dummy grenades, but for once, switched to live grenades. After pulling the pin on his grenade and preparing to throw it, a wild rabbit emerged onto the training field, right in the area where G.W. was about to lob it. G.W. hesitated for a moment so he could change his trajectory, but the grenade's explosive contents were primed and the time he needed to get the grenade away from himself was lost. As G.W. tossed it up in the air, it exploded too close to him and killed him instantly. His parents were forced to bury him in a way that no one, not even him, had expected, and Erin mourned him deeply. She cried for him both in his death, and after reading a posthumous letter he had prepared for her to receive in case he died in the war, where he told Erin he really loved her, which she reciprocated. Although G.W.'s sudden death haunted Erin, she was comforted by her father in her time of need.

G.W. became the very first resident of Walton's Mountain to die as a result of wartime activities, and the first recurring regular character to be killed off. Erin fondly remembers him in part two of "The Empty Nest", remarking that her now-deceased grandpa is up in Heaven with G.W. and now both will be watching over her.

Flossie Brimmer[edit]

A heavyset, widowed woman (Nora Marlowe) who runs the boarding house in Walton's Mountain. Flossie has the ability to tell people's fortunes with tea leaves, and stood watch over the youngest Walton children during the family's childbirths that required them to stay out mischief. In the episode, "The Fire Storm", from the fifth season her ability to speak German is pivotal to stopping a book-burning. She prevents the citizens of the Blue Ridge from unknowingly incinerating a Bible printed in German when she identifies it via interpretation, causing the entire community to realize with great horror that some Germans actually valued what they did and their actions nearly copied Nazism. She is the second recurring regular to die, following the sudden death of her actor, Nora Marlowe, in late 1977. Her character is later written out of the series at the same time as Zebulon Walton, having died around the same time he did.

Zuleika Dunbar[edit]

An older woman played by Pearl Shear, resident at Flossie Brimmer's boarding house, and known for being a flirt. She is a constant rival for Zeb's affections, and her presence annoys Esther because of it, especially when she tries to upstage her in the season 5 episode "The Rebellion". She takes over the boarding house not long after Mrs Brimmer's death.

Yancy Tucker[edit]

Played by Robert Donner. An all-around handyman, he appears in 19 episodes. "The Sinner" and "The Dust Bowl Cousins" in 1972; "The Deed" and "The Chicken Thief" in 1973; "The Heritage" in 1974, "The Shivaree" in 1975; "The Best Christmas", "The Wedding: Parts 1 and 2", "The Baptism", "The Comeback", "The Quilting" and "The Burnout" in 1976; "The First Casualty" in which he marries Sissy (Cissy Wellman), "The Grandchild", and "The Hawk" in 1977; "The Boosters", "The Beau" and "The Obsession" in 1978.

Other characters[edit]

Judge Baldwin[edit]

The late father of the Baldwin ladies, who is only ever seen in the form of a portrait above their fireplace, one of many Baldwins to harbor a recipe for bootlegwhiskey, and the keeper of a secret room where he stashed his stores of his own brew which his daughters later discovered by accident near the end of the series. He is said to have suffered a stroke at some moment in his declining health and spent the remaining 20 years of his life somewhat vegetated and walking with a cane that is later given by his daughters to Esther following her stroke and return from extensive hospitalization. He was fiercely against the idea of Ashley Longworth getting involved with his daughter Emily and served to quash their relationship in more ways than one. When Emily discovered a note hidden in his portrait reveling in his disgust at her daughter's beau, she "punished" her father by evicting his portrait from its position over the fireplace where it had hung for a decade and temporarily gave him a time-out in the broom closet. Judge Baldwin is widely recognized by the older community of Walton's mountain for his occupation and prestige, as well as his advocacy of the "recipe". In contrast, his late wife is seldom mentioned by his daughters, as their father's legacy was so prolific and authoritative on them compared to their mother, who led a relatively quiet life of hobbies.

Benjamin ("Uncle" Ben) Walton[edit]

Uncle Ben Walton was the red-haired, idea-filled older son of Zebulon Tyler Walton and Esther Walton. He is mentioned in "The Awakening" (season 2, episode 15), in which three children of Zeb and Esther are mentioned, and "The Hero" (season 5, episode 18) when the younger Ben made a memorial bench for Uncle Ben for Honor Day.

Uncle Ben was much like his nephew, John Sr.’s son. They both have red hair, they are both filled with ideas, and their handwriting is similar. Ben got along with John the same way that Ben gets along with John-Boy.

Frances Daly[edit]

Frances is Olivia's sister, who lives in Edgemont. She is mentioned in "The Heritage" (season 2, episode 18).

Olivia Hill[edit]

Olivia Hill Deborah White is Olivia Walton's namesake (she is daughter of Olivia's deceased childhood best friend Marnie), and is the wife and later widow of Bob Hill, whom she marries on the mountain in "The Shivaree" episode. Catastrophe strikes both her family and her husband's family, as both she and Bob have no surviving parents, and they ended up seeing each other before their wedding, said to be bad luck. This turns out to be strangely prophetic when Olivia is reduced to a bereaved widow barely a year later. She returns to Walton's Mountain following her husband's sudden death in "The Loss.” Bob is said to have been struck by a car a dark night on his way home when he didn't see it coming.

Martha Corinne Walton[edit]

Martha Corinne, the widow of Zeb's older brother, Henry Walton, first appears in the two-part season three episode "The Conflict”, in which she and her family are displaced from their scenic mountain land by construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though she initially refuses to leave, when John-Boy is wounded in an armed standoff between members of the Walton clan and government officials, Martha Corinne agrees to relocate to a newly constructed house provided by the government. She appears in two more episodes, including season five's "The Pony Cart.” (which won an Emmy for her portrayer, Beulah Bondi in 1977). It was in this episode she made her final appearance. Martha Corrine reveals to John-Boy that her health has started deteriorating and she had come back to the mountain to make her peace before she eventually passes away.

Boone Walton[edit]

Played by Morgan Woodward. A member of the Walton clan, and Zeb's cousin, who had a major role in the standoff with the Blue Ridge Parkway construction. Boone Walton is very set in his ways and has a cantankerous disposition. He first appears in the two-part season three episode "The Conflict,” and is happy with Zeb's involvement in the fight against the government officials. He backs down once John-Boy is shot. He returns in the season seven episode "The Moonshiner,” where he has been arrested for moonshining and faces imprisonment. Jason appears at his sentencing and appeals his case, getting the judge to place Boone in his care after paying off a $100 fine, allowing him to connect with Boone. The rest of his family shows a strong distaste for Boone (due to his role in getting John-Boy injured), especially Esther, who despises his lifestyle. He slowly adjusts among them and manages to restore the Baldwins' Recipe when they lose the means to recreate it from memory. Boone reveals to Jason that he once had a wife named Rose and a young son, but a freak flash flood took their lives. Although Boone stubbornly resists progress and continues to rebel, he reforms himself in the end. However, he remains an ardent moonshiner for the rest of his days on the mountain until one fateful night much later at the ripe age of 85, when he treks out into civilization with two jugs of moonshine in hand and dies crossing the road in the dark (implied to possibly be drunk), where he is hit by an oncoming car.

Sarah Simmonds[edit]

Sarah Jane Simmonds is an overly protected young girl being raised by her widowed mother. When John-Boy asks her out to see a movie it releases a wild streak that results in a close brush with death for Sarah. Played by Sissy Spacek, in one of her first television roles.


  1. ^"The Fire", Season one, episode 16
  2. ^TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. pp. 536. ISBN .
  3. ^"The Sinner", season 1
  4. ^"The Baptism", season 5
  5. ^"The Secret", season 4
  6. ^"The Celebration", season 6, episode 13
  7. ^"The Foundling", season 1, episode 1
  8. ^"The Hero", season 5, episode 18

Further reading[edit]

  • Ike Godsey of Walton's Mountain, by Joe Conley. Albany, BearManor Media 2010. ISBN 978-1-59393-508-5.

External links[edit]

The Waltons Cast Then and Now (2020)

What was I just thinking. Why did you agree to go on a date with him. At the last moment, Katerina wanted to cancel the meeting, but she knew intellectually that if she did this now, he would not leave her alone. Today she should be beautiful and strict.

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The girls hugged. Marinka was in light-colored homemade pajamas, slippery to the touch. She was dressed completely non-holiday, it felt like she had slept all day. But her face was fresh. We took off our shoes and went into the room.

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