Drama

8 things you didn't know about 'The Waltons'

AP

 (AP)

Did you know “The Waltons” classic “Goodnight, John Boy” closing sequence was inspired by an actual bedtime tradition at the childhood home of the show’s creator, Earl Hamner, Jr?

“Sometimes we would get carried away and say so many goodnights that my father, who had to get up early in the morning, would say, ‘Alright.  That’s enough!’” he revealed in a 2013 interview published by the Archive of American Television.

“RichardThomas, after his first trip to Virginia, came back and said, ‘I always wondered how you people could all say goodnight and be heard, but then I saw the house and it is such a little cracker box that now I understand.’”

“The Waltons” — based more than loosely on Hamner’s life and family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression — debuted on September 14, 1972.

During its nine year run on CBS, the program earned two Golden Globe Awards as well as an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Drama Series.” 

There were also seven individual Emmy Awards for its stars: Michael Learned (Olivia Walton), Richard Thomas (“John Boy” Walton), Beulah Bondi (Martha Corrinne Walton), and Ellen Corby (Esther Walton).

“The Waltons” continues to air daily on the INSP Network.

Here’s a few fun facts about one of TV’s most beloved shows.

  • 1. Old Waltons, New Waltons

    The pilot episode of “The Waltons” was actually a 1971 made-for-TV movie called “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.” Thomas was one of the only actors not to be recast before it became a weekly series.

  • 2. Battle of the bottle

    Battle of the bottle

    Reuters

    Ralph Waite, who played patriarch John Walton, admitted he turned to the bottle after his young daughter died of leukemia. “During the early days of ‘The Waltons,’ I was a wild man,” the one time Presbyterian minister revealed before his death in 2014.

    “There was no such thing as a lunch without three or more Martinis. When I finally got back to the set, I was pretty much out of things.”

  • 3. Learned also struggled with alcoholism

    Learned also struggled with alcoholism

    AP

    Multiple reports indicate Learned even showed up for her audition with a bottle of bourbon in her pocket. The actress, 78, claims to have hit rock bottom in 1977 and has been sober ever since.

  • 4. Call her 'Miss'

    Call her 'Miss'

    Bill Dow

    Learned — who earned three Primetime Emmy Awards during the show’s run — was billed as “Miss Michael Learned” for the first five seasons so that viewers would not be confused about her gender.

  • 5. Familiar sounds

    The Walton’s theme song was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who also penned the opening numbers to “Barnaby Jones” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

  • 6. Plastic surgery regrets

    Plastic surgery regrets

    Getty

    Mary McDonough (middle sister, Erin) opted for breast augmentation surgery after she left Walton Mountain. The actress believes the procedure led to a series of serious health complications, including Lupus.

    'Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights' Star Romola Garai Says She Was Body Shamed on Set

  • 7. Waltons in Star Hollow

    Though the original set was dismantled more than 30 years ago, a replica of the Walton house was created for use in various reunion specials.  It remains on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank and was recently used as Dragonfly Inn on “Gilmore Girls.”

  • 8. What's in a name?

    Show creator Hamner began to tell his family’s story in the novel “Spencer’s Mountain,” which was adapted into a 1963 movie Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.  Warner Brothers owned all rights to the content, so the studio required him to rename the characters. “There had been some Waltons in my family way back,” Hamner said.  “Also, I though the name Walton sounded sturdy and Virginian and American.”