Then/Now: The Cast of 'The Waltons'

What happened to everyone's favorite rural family? Check out what the cast of the hit 1970s show has been up to.

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    'The Waltons' Cast

    "The Waltons" was a drama TV series created by Earl Hamner Jr. based on his book "Spencer’s Mountain." The show ran from 1972 to 1981 on CBS.
    AP
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    'The Waltons' Cast

    Set in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II, the show follows the Walton family, consisting of John (Ralph Waite) and Olivia (Michael Learned), their seven children, and John's parents Zebulon "Zeb" Tyler (Will Greer) and Esther (Ellen Corby).
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    Ralph Waite: Then

    Waite played patriarch John Walton, a World War I vet who works hard to provide for his family by running a small family sawmill on his acreage. An ordained Presbytarian minister, Waite briefly worked as a social worker before deciding to pursue an acting career.
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    Ralph Waite: Now

    Waite continued to work steadily on TV after "The Waltons." He ran for Congress in California as a Democrat on three occasions in 1990 and 1998. In 2014, he died at 85 years old to age-related illness. His final appearance on TV was through his recurring role on "Days of Our Lives," playing Father Matt.
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    Michael Learned: Then

    Learned played John’s soft-spoken, loving wife Olivia Walton. While John mostly abandoned religion, Olivia was very involved with the church. The role earned Learned 6 Emmy nominations and 3 wins. Her contract was not renewed in 1979 (her character’s absence was attributed to her character developing Tuberculosis) but she did continue to make guest appearances until the end of the series.
    AP
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    Michael Learned: Now

    Learned, 73, continued to make guest appearances on various TV shows after the series ended. She has appeared on "Law and Order: SVU," "All my Children," "One Life to Live," and had a recurring role on "Scrubs." Learned holds the joint record for most Emmys Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, 3 of which she earned for "The Waltons", and another for "Nurse".
    Bill Dow
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    Richard Thomas: Then

    Thomas played John "John Boy" Walton Jr., the oldest of the seven children and aspiring writer who serves as the narrator. He left the series after the sixth season and the role was played by Robert Wightman. However, he reprised the John Boy role in three of the Waltons TV movies.
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    Richard Thomas: Now

    Thomas (pictured with wife Georgiana Bischoff and son Montana James) continues to act on TV and in film following his departure from the series. He recently starred in the acclaimed FX drama, "The Americans." In 2017, he received a Tony nomination for his work in the Broadway revival of "The Little Foxes." He's wed twice and has 5 children.
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    Mary Elizabebeth McDonough: Then

    McDonough played Erin Walton, the pretty one of the family who was prone to falling in love a lot.
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    Mary Elizabebeth McDonough: Now

    McDonough found continued success on TV after the series and has had guest roles on "ER," "Will & Grace," "The West Wing," "Boston Legal," and more recently, a recurring role on the show "The New Adventures of Old Christine," with Julia Louis Dreyfus.  She published a book about her experience on "The Waltons" called Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton.
    AP
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    Jon Walmsley Then

    Jon Walmsley Then Jon played second oldest Walton child Jason, a quiet, kind-hearted musician.
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    Jon Walmsley Now

    Jon Walmsley Now Jon, 56, focused mostly on his music career after the show. He had a small guest role on "7th Heaven" in 2005 and recently appeared in the TV movie “Elf Sparkle Meets Christmas the Horse.”
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    Kami Cotler Then

    Kami Cotler Then Kami grew up before our eyes playing the role of Elizabeth Walton from the time she was a young child until young adulthood.
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    Kami Cotler Now

    Kami Cotler Now Kami, 47, gave up acting after appearing in the Walton films and she currently directs a charter school in California. She is married and has two children.
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    Judy Norton Taylor Then

    Judy Norton Taylor Then Judy played Mary Ellen, the third oldest Walton. Mary Ellen began as a rebellious tomboy but eventually softened and became more mature as the series went on.
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    Judy Norton Taylor Now

    Judy Norton Taylor Now Judy, 54, hasn’t done much acting since her days as a Walton. She and her husband currently run a chain of dinner theatres called "Celebrations and Jubilations," in several Canadian cities.
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    Eric Scott Then

    Eric Scott Then Eric Scott played the always scheming Ben Walton. Ben could always be counted on to stir up trouble and his schemes usually revolved around making money.
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    Eric Scott Now

    Eric Scott Now Scott, 53, went on to make a few television and film appearances including "Bewitched." "The Loch Ness Horror" and "Defying Gravity." He also appeared in the Waltons movies.
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    David W. Harper Then/Now

    David W. Harper Then/Now David played Jim-Bob, the youngest Walton boy who had dreams of becoming a pilot until he found out he needed glasses. After reprising his role in the Walton movies, David, 50, seems to have retired from acting and has pretty much fallen off the map.
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    Ellen Corby (1911-1999)

    Ellen Corby (1911 - 1999) Ellen played Esther "Grandma" Walton who, unlike her husband, was very feisty and quick tempered. In 1977, Ellen suffered a stroke which was written into the show but also caused her to be absent for most of season 5. She returned to the show in 1978 but at a very limited capacity and was forced to leave the show for good in 1979. She was well enough to appear in the Walton TV movies in the 90’s (her last appearance was in "A Walton Easter" in 1997). She passed away in 1999 at the age of 87.
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    Will Geer (1902-1978)

    Will Geer (1902 - 1978) Will Geer played Zebulon Tyler "Grandpa" Walton, an easy-going, hard-working man who loved his family. Will was an accomplished theater actor before being cast in the role. Will died in 1978 at the age of 76 after completing the 6th season and his death was written into the show.
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