The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner Jr., based on his book Spencer's Mountain and a 1963 film of the same name, about a family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II.
The television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story was broadcast on December 19, 1971. 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. 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 movie 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.
|Created by||Earl Hamner Jr.|
|Based on||The Homecoming|
by Earl Hamner Jr.
|Narrated by||Earl Hamner Jr.|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||221 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Lorimar Productions|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Picture format||480i, 1080i|
|Original release||September 14, 1972 –|
June 4, 1981
|Preceded by||The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)|
|Followed by||A Wedding on Walton's Mountain (1982)|
The main story is set in Walton's Mountain, a fictional mountain-area community in fictitious Jefferson 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 18 that the date is in the spring of 1933. The last episode of season one, "An Easter Story", is set in February–April 1934. The year 1934 takes two seasons to cover, while some successive years are covered over the course of a few months.
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, which ostensibly do not hinder the storyline.
The first three 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; A Walton Easter, filmed in 1997, is set in 1969.
The series began relating stories that occurred 38 years in the past and ended with its last reunion show set 28 years in the past.
The story is about the family of John Walton Jr. (known as John-Boy): his six siblings, his parents John and Olivia Walton, and the elder John's parents Zebulon "Zeb" and Esther Walton. John-Boy is the oldest of the children (17 years old in the beginning), 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 his sons' help 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. The church that the Hamners actually attended was Schuyler Baptist Church, near the Hamner homeplace and is still in operation. The church has helped host several events honoring Earl Hamner, Jr., including one in 2014.
In the signature scene that closes almost every episode, the family house is enveloped in darkness, save for one, two or three 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, the actors who portrayed the 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. The 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 sanitarium. Olivia's cousin, Rose Burton, moves into the Walton house to look after the family. Two years later, John Sr. moves to Arizona to be near 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).
Six feature-length movies were made after the series' run; set from 1947 to 1969, they aired between 1982 and 1997.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||December 19, 1971||N/A||N/A|
|1||25||September 14, 1972||April 19, 1973||19||20.6[a]|
|2||25||September 13, 1973||March 14, 1974||2||28.1|
|3||25||September 12, 1974||March 6, 1975||8||25.5|
|4||25||September 11, 1975||March 4, 1976||14||22.9[b]|
|5||25||September 23, 1976||March 17, 1977||15||22.3[c]|
|6||26||September 15, 1977||March 30, 1978||20||20.8[d]|
|7||24||September 21, 1978||March 22, 1979||N/A||N/A|
|8||24||September 20, 1979||March 13, 1980||N/A||N/A|
|9||22||November 27, 1980||June 4, 1981||30||18.6|
|Movies||6||February 22, 1982||April 27, 1997||N/A||N/A|
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. 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.)
Patricia Neal (as Olivia) won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama. The movie was also nominated for three 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).
The following is a brief summary of the main characters. See main article for a more complete list.
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 seventy miles east of Schuyler.
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.
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 two popular programs: The Flip Wilson Show on NBC and The Mod Squad on ABC. "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. 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.
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."
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 three 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.
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.
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)
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.
|Region 1||Region 2 (UK)|
|The Homecoming: A Christmas Story||N/A||September 23, 2003||N/A|
|The Complete 1st Season||24||May 11, 2004||November 1, 2004|
|The Complete 2nd Season||24||April 26, 2005||July 3, 2006|
|The Complete 3rd Season||24||April 25, 2006||September 11, 2006|
|The Complete 4th Season||24||January 23, 2007||March 5, 2007|
|The Complete 5th Season||24||May 8, 2007||September 12, 2007|
|The Complete 6th Season||22||January 8, 2008||March 20, 2008|
|The Complete 7th Season||23||April 29, 2008||N/A|
|The Complete 8th Season||24||January 6, 2009||N/A|
|The Complete 9th Season||22||April 28, 2009||N/A|
|TV Movie Collection (not including the original movie)||6||January 26, 2010||N/A|
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, which Warner owned. Warner Bros. acquired Lorimar in 1989, and has continued to syndicate the series ever since. Reruns currently air in the U.S. 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 1 and BBC 2 during the 1970s/1980s - the first three seasons were broadcast on BBC 2 from February 18, 1974 to May 17, 1976, on Mondays at 20.00 GMT, and seasons 4 and 5 were shown on BBC 1 from September 5, 1976 to August 30, 1977, 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 and concluding in April 1983. The three reunion TV movies filmed in 1982 were also shown on BBC 2 from December 21 to December 28, 1983. The show was repeated on Channel 4 in the 1990s. It currently airs on True Entertainment and True Movies Channels in the UK.
The 25th Emmy Awards, later known as the 25th Primetime Emmy Awards, were handed out on May 20, 1973. The ceremony was hosted by Johnny Carson. This would be the final ceremony that included daytime categories, as the Daytime Emmy Awards premiered the next year. Winners are listed in bold and series' networks are in parentheses.
The top shows of the night were All in the Family which won its third consecutive Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, and The Waltons. The Waltons, in its first season, had the most major nominations heading into the ceremony (9), and won the most major awards on the night with five.26th Primetime Emmy Awards
The 26th Emmy Awards, later known as the 26th Primetime Emmy Awards, were handed out on May 28, 1974. The ceremony was hosted by Johnny Carson. Winners are listed in bold and networks are in parentheses.
The top shows of the night were M*A*S*H and Upstairs, Downstairs. M*A*S*H and Mary Tyler Moore had the most major nominations with ten. Two show led the night with five major wins, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and Mary Tyler Moore.
For this ceremony, individual awards dubbed "Super Emmys" were given out in addition to the traditional categories. The individual categories were dropped the following year and have not returned since.31st Golden Globe Awards
The 31st Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television for 1973, were held on January 26, 1974.Dinah!
Dinah! is a daytime variety talk show that was hosted by singer and actress Dinah Shore. The show was the successor to Shore's previous variety effort, Dinah's Place, which aired from 1970 until 1974 on NBC and was cancelled to make way for a network edition of the then-syndicated game show Name That Tune. The series was distributed by 20th Century Fox Television and premiered on September 9, 1974 in syndication. In 1979 the show became known as Dinah and Friends and remained so until it ended its run in 1980. The show's announcer was Johnny Gilbert.
Like other syndicated talk/entertainment shows of the day, such as The Merv Griffin Show and The Mike Douglas Show, Dinah! was focused on celebrity interviews promoting recent motion pictures, books and other television programs. It was a popular forum for musical acts receiving national exposure performing short song sets followed by a sit-down interview with Shore. A highly successful vocalist and recording artist herself, Shore would usually sing at least one song on each program, either greeting the television viewing audience or saying goodbye to them at the end; she sometimes dueted with musical guests. Each episode was ninety minutes in length.
Dinah! would often do entire 90-minute episodes devoted to one television series; for example, there was an episode saluting The Waltons which featured the entire cast, including the child cast members, and the series creator Earl Hamner Jr. During the show, Shore did a musical salute to the year 1935, which would have been in the time period in which The Waltons took place. Another series that was saluted was M*A*S*H. Again, the entire cast appeared, Gary Burghoff ("Radar O'Reilly") played the drums, and the musical salute was to 1951.Earl Hamner Jr.
Earl Henry Hamner Jr. (July 10, 1923 – March 24, 2016) was an American television writer and producer (sometimes credited as Earl Hamner), best known for his work in the 1970s and 1980s on the long-running series The Waltons and Falcon Crest. As a novelist, he was best known for Spencer's Mountain, which was inspired by his own childhood and formed the basis for both the film of the same name and the television series The Waltons, for which he provided voice-over narration.Ellen Corby
Ellen Hansen Corby (June 3, 1911 – April 14, 1999) was an American actress. She is best remembered for the role of Esther "Grandma" Walton on the CBS television series The Waltons, for which she won three Emmy Awards. She was also nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for her performance as Aunt Trina in I Remember Mama (1948).Faber, Virginia
Faber is an unincorporated community in Nelson County, Virginia, United States. It is the location of the Monroe Institute.
Faber was one of the communities mentioned in several episodes of the television series, The Waltons. The family drama about post-Great Depression rural Virginia drew from the geography of Faber and nearby Schuyler and involved the Schuyler Baptist Church.Harry Harris (director)
Harry Harris (September 8, 1922 – March 19, 2009) was an American television and film director.Harris moved to Los Angeles in 1937 and got a mailroom job at Columbia Studios. After attending UCLA, he became an apprentice sound cutter, assistant sound effects editor, and then an assistant film editor at Columbia Pictures. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces at the start of World War II, and as part of the First Motion Picture Unit, reported to Hal Roach Studios in Culver City. His supervisor there was Ronald Reagan, who hired him as sound effects editor for training and combat films.At the end of World War II, Harris became an assistant film editor and then an editor for Desilu, the studio of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Over the next five decades, he directed hundreds of TV episodes, with significant contributions to Gunsmoke, Eight is Enough, The Waltons, and Falcon Crest. He won an Emmy Award for directing a 1982 episode of Fame, and was nominated for two other Emmy Awards and a Directors Guild of America Award.List of The Waltons characters
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.List of The Waltons episodes
The following is a list of episodes and movies for the CBS television show The Waltons.Mary Elizabeth McDonough
Mary Elizabeth McDonough (born May 4, 1961), sometimes credited as Mary Beth McDonough, is an American actress and writer, best known for her role as Erin Walton on The Waltons from 1972 to 1981.Michael Learned
Michael Learned (born April 9, 1939) is an American actress, known for her role as Olivia Walton in the long-running CBS drama series The Waltons (1972–1981). She has won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series a record four times; three for The Waltons (1973, 1974, 1976), and one for Nurse (1982).Ralph Waite
Ralph Waite (June 22, 1928 – February 13, 2014) was an American actor and political activist, best known for his role as John Walton, Sr. on The Waltons (1972–1981), which he occasionally directed. He also had recurring roles in NCIS as Jackson Gibbs, the father of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and Bones, as Seeley Booth's grandfather. Waite had supporting roles in movies like Cool Hand Luke (1967), Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Grissom Gang (1971), The Bodyguard (1992), and Cliffhanger (1993).Richard Thomas (actor)
Richard Earl Thomas (born June 13, 1951) is an American actor. He is best known for his leading role as budding author John-Boy Walton in the CBS drama The Waltons, for which he won one Emmy Award and received nominations for another Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. He also starred in Stephen King's miniseries IT and played Special Agent Frank Gaad on FX's spy thriller series The Americans.Ronnie Claire Edwards
Ronnie Claire Edwards (February 9, 1933 – June 14, 2016) was an American actress, best known for playing Corabeth Walton Godsey on the TV series The Waltons.Spencer's Mountain
Spencer's Mountain is a 1963 American family drama film written, directed, and produced by Delmer Daves from the 1961 novel of the same name by Earl Hamner Jr. The film stars Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, and in early appearances in their careers, James MacArthur, Veronica Cartwright, and Victor French. Longtime Hollywood actor Donald Crisp plays "Grandpa", his final screen role.Walton family
The Walton family is an American family, whose collective fortune makes them one of the richest families in the United States of America and the richest in the world. The majority of their wealth derives from the heritage of Bud and Sam Walton, who were the co-founders of the world's largest retailer, Walmart. The three most prominent living members (Jim, Rob and Alice) have consistently been in the top twenty of the Forbes 400 since 2001, as were John (d. 2005) and Helen (d. 2007) prior to their deaths. Christy Walton took her husband John's place in that ranking after his death.
As of December 2014, the Waltons collectively owned 50.8 percent of the company. In 2018, the family sold some of their Walmart stock and now own just under 50%. In October 2019, the annual Sunday Times Rich List indicated the Walton family's wealth is at $US201.4 billion.Waltons (band)
Waltons were a Canadian folk rock band, active primarily in the 1990s. The band released three studio albums during their career, and won a Juno Award for Best New Group at the Juno Awards of 1994.Will Geer
Will Geer (born William Aughe Ghere, March 9, 1902 – April 22, 1978) was an American actor and social activist, who was active in labor organizing and other movements in New York and Southern California in the 1930s and 1940s. In California he befriended rising singer Woody Guthrie. They both lived in New York for a time in the 1940s. He was blacklisted in the 1950s by HUAC for refusing to name persons who had joined the Communist Party.
Geer acted on stage in New York and eastern theatres, and in California for film. He is best-known as an actor for his later portrayal of Grandpa Zebulon Tyler Walton in the 1970s TV series The Waltons.
Awards for The Waltons