Waltons Friendship Society
Waltons Friendship Society

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

The most up to date interviews will always appear at the foot of this page, so simply scroll down to find the interview that you want, its as easy as that, hope you enjoy hearing from the cast!

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The Interviews listed here so far are as follows:-,

 

Earl Hamner, Parts 1 & 2.

 

Judy Norton, Parts 1 & 2 & 3.

 

Ronnie Claire Edwards.

 

Jon Walmsley, Parts 1 & 2

 

Tom Bower. Parts 1 & 2

 

Keith Coogan. Part 1 & 2

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A Huge thank you to everyone who has sent comments having now read the concluding parts to the cast interviews that are only available to current members. The society is very grateful to the cast members for giving up their time to speak with us and be interviewed and we know as they do that you appreciate reading what they have to say about the series and their own lives. We will continue to try and provide more as time goes on.

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To help the website be launched, creator of The Waltons, Earl Hamner agreed to be interviewed which was a great privilge for the Friendship Society. Below is Part 1 of a fascinating interview with the man behind the show.

The interview between Earl Hamner and The Waltons Friendship Society took place in June 2013, and the Society is very grateful to Earl for taking the time to speak to us as he prepares to celebrate his 90th Birthday in July.

 

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Waltons Friendship Society:- Earl, can you remember how you felt when you were told that the TV network had agreed to run the very first pilot show and then went on to agree to produce the first series?

 

Earl Hamner:- To understand the miracle that brought "The Waltons" to television you have to start way back. In the beginning, back in the fifties,the new medium called television came into being gradually. At first, in a period now called The Golden Age, the quality of the shows was extremely high and dealt with important themes, often on the level of a play you might see in the theatre. But then it became increasingly a vehicle for gross commercialism. The advertisers took over, and the creative community fled from New York to Los Angeles. Entertainment content became less. Commercials took over more and more time and rather than examination of the human experience, we were bombarded with leering sexual innuendo and explicit violence which continues to flood the medium down to the present day.

 

By some miracle, my novel "The Homecoming" was bought by CBS and made into a two hour Christmas Special. It received rave reviews by the critics and the audience loved it. And then a remarkable thing happened. William Paley, the president of CBS, a visionary, saw the special and said, "There is a series here". With his backing many of the purely commercial aspects were set aside such as the need for an appeal to the negative side of most viewers such as the value and worth of Family. Because of Mr Paley's decision we went forward, wrote scripts and went on air where the series rose in the ratings from near the bottom to the very top of the list. It lasted for eight seasons. It is seen here in the states on three different channels today, and is still on the air in syndication somewhere in nthe world.

 

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Earl, did you have much input in the selection process of the principle actors for the show?

 

Earl Hamner:- Yes, i had a strong input into the selection of the actors who played the principle roles, because they were portraying real people - members of my family and it was important to me and to my family members that the actors have the talent, the looks and the sensitivity to portray them sympathetically. 

 

This is not to say that the characters were all perfect, far from it. Each of them was vulnerable with human frailities as well as being capable of nobility.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do the shows sets still exist somewhere?

 

Earl Hamner:- Yes, the exterior sets of the show still exist on the Ranch location of Warner Brothers Televisions Studios in Burbank, California. Reproductions of the interior have been created with authenticity at the Walton Museum in my hometown of Schuyler, Virginia. Also in Schuyler. the Hamner house has been restored and furnished much as it was when we were growing up there. It is open to the public for a modest fee. It is also listed on the roster of Historic Homes of Virginia.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Earl, tell us about the countries and cities you have visited during your life.

 

Earl Hamner:- During the hiatus of the show my wife and i traveled a great deal. We have visited most of the states here at home. We also visited France, Wales, where Jane's family came from originally, germany and Ireland. We also visited my sister in law in Barcelona.

 

During World War two i was sent overseas as a soldier in the United States Army. We sailed on enormous troop ships and came ashore at Southampton. From there my unit was transported to a camp near a small charming town called Nantwhich. Sunlight faded but twilight lasted well into the evening during the summer and in the evening we soldiers would sit outside the pubs drinking beer and waiting to be shipped to the continent.

 

My hobby for many years has been creating and raising Bonsai. I have also been a great fan of Lafcadio Hearn, an American writer who became a Japanese citizen and who wrote classic ghost stories. It had always been my desire to visit the island of Matsue where a shrine to him still exists so it was a most gratifying trip to go there and meditate in the same room where he had lived and worked.

 

My work also took me to foreign countries. i worked for Cubby Brocoli in London, the producer of the James Bond movies. I was one of the producers on a series based on "The manfrom Snowy River" in Melbourne Australia, and i was with the production crew in the Alps, near Zurich Switzerland, when my adaptation of "Heidi" was being filmed.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Earl, in terms of where you currently live, where is home?

 

Earl Hamner:- Home to me will forever be the village in the Blue ridge Mountains where i was born and grew up. But more accurately i live in the suberb of Los Angeles called Studio City. Like the name implies there are several film and television studios close by and the folks who live here are many on their up the ladder of success or some on their way down. It is also home to several well-known personalities and within a short walk from my house there are two major stars!

 

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Amongst the cast, in terms of laughing and joking around was there a "Joker" amongst the cast?

 

Earl Hamner:- The joker in the crowd was Richard Thomas. When John Ritter who played the young Baptist minister was on the set he and Richard did their "Gorilla Act". This consisted of their prowling all over the lot, crouched down, their arms swinging like Monkeys, and making horrible grunts and shrieks. You shoulda been there!!

 

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- After the pilot was aired, did you ever think that the show would run for so many series?

 

Earl Hamner:- I was not surprised that the show has run for so many years. In that television soup of murder, illness, contrived situations, lewd stories, sexually suggestive situations and disagreeable characters, The Waltons stand out for their reality, their humanity and for their celebration of and instituation each of us hold dear - the human family.

 

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We really hope you enjoyed this Part 1 of the interview with the creator of The waltons, Earl Hamner.  

 

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 August 2013:- Here is Part 2 of the great interview with Earl Hamner.

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How proud are you of the great success of the series around the world?

 

Earl Hamner:- I am immeasurably proud of the sucess of the series. It has been shown all over the world. It has been seen somewhere around the world for the last forty years and i receive mail from as far away as Saudi Arabia and Iceland. Each writer seems to feel a very personal connection with the family and can relate to them. If this sounds boastful -  forgive me but this is some kind of a record and i am proud of it. At the same time i cannot take full credit. The series was written by several different writers each one contributing richly to the overall story.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- They say never work with children or animals, yet the series had both in abundance, how come that all worked so well?

 

Earl Hamner:- Even though most actors are wary about working with children and animals, our adult actors were confident, caring, and in most cases, parents themselves. And i must say that the children on the series were without fail well brought up, well mannered, and highly professional. On the whole they were not competitive but worked together as a unit.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What were your feelings when the show finished?

 

Earl hamner:- My feelings when the series ended its first run were mixed. I had grown used to the routine, the challenge of coming up with a new direction each year, of being true to historical events as well as to the characters of my family. I had enjoyed working with such a stellar cast, but because of death of some cast members abd for career moves by others, we had lost important members of the cast. So we had run our course and the time had come to bring the series to its end.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What comments did your own siblings make about seeing how the show. knowing it was based uopn themselves?

 

Earl Hamner:- Well, i think they saw themselves being portrayed os interesting, attractive and original characters. In some cases they became known by their stage names. My brother, brother James, almost universally became known as Jim-Bob.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you think there will ever be any more Waltons show filmed?

 

Earl Hamner:- I doubt if there will ever be any more Walton shows filmed. In spite of its continuing popularity the people who buy these series consider such shows like " The Waltons " and " Little House on the Prairie " as " Soft " and are convinced that they will not attract vast audiences. I believe that they are wrong.

 

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The concluding Part 3 of this interview will only be sent out to members of the waltons Friendship Society, via email, and will be released during October 2013 so to ensure you receive Part 3 of the interview you will need to make sure you become a member as soon as you can as the concluding part of the interview will be released during October 2013 onwards.

 

In Part 3 Earl describes what will appear on his tombstone!, he tells us what most Waltons fans continue to ask him, Earl speaks about some very famous people he has met during his career, he tells us what 3 things he would take onto a desert island with him, as well as a special insight into how the youngest two children in the family, David Harper and Kami Cotler, coped with acting while still at a very young age and he has a special meesage to Waltons fans around the world. Dont miss it!.

 

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Judy Norton agreed to this exclusive interview for the Waltons Friendship Society in July 2013. We appreciate how busy Judy is with work and family and we very much appreciate her taking the time out of her schedule to talk to us and you, the shows fans.

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Waltons Friendship Society:- Hi Judy, can you you tell us about the selection process when you got your part on the show?

 

Judy:- I went in for an initial audition for The Homecoming TV movie where they had 7 young actors (one for each of the Walton children ) audition together. We did the scene in the barn where we were cracking walnuts. I went back another time and repeated the process with another group of actors, same scene.

 

When i was asked to come back a third time there were only 6 of us there. We were invited into the audition room and informed we were the actors they would like to have to play the Waltons kids. ( Minus Richard Thomas who had already been cast separately ).

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Did many people go for the same part?

 

Judy:- Yes, there were a lot of the same young actresses i saw at any number of auditions. many of whom frequently got roles i auditioned for, so it was particularly exciting for me to go up against these talented young girls and come out first pick this time!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Did you know of anyone who were not successful in getting a part on the show, but who later went on to appear on other shows?

 

Judy:- I believe Cindy Eilbacher auditioned, she later played Mary Rose Coverdale a rival of Mary Ellen's.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- In the series were there ever incidents that you can remember when an animal in a scene did not do as it should of been doing?

 

Judy:- Frequently! It is very difficult to get a chicken, or peacock to follow directions! We used a lot of animals over the years and had many a retake because of this.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- In the first few years following the show what did you do career wise?

 

Judy:- After the show ended, i started doing a lot of theatre. I had started in theatre as a child and worked with a repertory company just before doing The Waltons. I also began doing musical theatre which i love. I also did guest spots on a few TV shows, ( Love Boat, Valentine ).

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What countries have you travelled to during your life?

 

Judy:- Canada ( i have dual citizenship ), England, France, Germany, China, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, Aruba, Grenada, Curacoa, Bonaire, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuala, Martinique, St John, Bahamas...

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you have any favourite cities you have visited?

 

Judy:- I love London, New York, Vancouver ( i lived there for 10 years )

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Did you ever sustain any injuries while filming the show?

 

Judy:- No. Since we weren't a stunt show, it wasnt really an issue. In my off time i did have an occasional sports injury, but nothing that affected filming.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- On a total day off what would you choose to do?

 

Judy:- It varies greatly, but i enjoy riding my horse, reading, house projects, lounging by the pool...outings like-amusement parks, zoos, beaches, theatre, movies...

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you come from a large family in terms of aunties, uncles, siblings etc

 

Judy:- Not really. I have one brother and one sister. I'm the middle child. My mother is from England and my father is from Canada so my relatives are in other countries and many i have never met. I am close with my brother and sister and they both have families of their own now, too, so i spend family time with them now.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Where do you spend Christmas?

 

Judy:- Has varied a great deal. Many years i have been working on a show in another city. If i'm not working we usually spend Christmas at home and have family over.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What project are you working on right now?

 

Judy:- The TV series BLUFF - we are mid season one. Also continuing to develop several other film and TV projects.

 

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PART TWO:-

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- We realize the clothes you wore were in keeping with the period in which the show is set, but what did you think and feel about what you were asked to wear?

 

Judy:- I really liked the overalls because they were comfortable. The period dresses not so much! When we moved more into the 40's i enjoyed the styles more. However, by that time because "modern day " styles had taken a nostalgic turn and 40's styles were back in the department stores, the costumers were literally able to shop "off the rack" for some of my clothes. 

 

When i would go shopping for clothes for my personal wardrobe store clerks would recommend wonderful new 40's styles. I would groan inside because the last thing i wanted was to wear clothes in real life that Mary Ellen would wear on the show! I was usually looking to maintain my own seperate identity on my own time.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Various people had to ride various animals in the show, horses, mules etc, did you have to learn this just for this show, and what about driving cars?

 

Judy:- A costumer on our show introduced me to riding and jumping horses which has become a lifelong passion of mine. So, riding the horses was not only easy but a lot of fun for me.

 

Being under driving age when the series started i learned away from the set and already had my license befire i was ever asked to drive one of the show vehicles. They were very challenging because they were period vehicles and often had mechanical problems and the steering was not power so you really got to work out driving them!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- If a script was accepted would you agree to take part in a one off special in the future?

 

Judy:- Most likely. The best part of the reunion shows has been the chance to work together again with these people i love so much.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What can you tell us about your own family life since leaving the show?

 

Judy:- I lived in Canada for 10 years and my son, Devin, was born up there. He recently turned 17 and graduated from High School. I took a lot of time off work while he was young. Choosing to stay home to raise him rather than take jobs that would require i travel. 

 

I'm married to a wonderful man, Bob Graves ( 11 years together ), and am back living in L.A. once again. I have two terrific step-children who are both grown.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Are there countries in the world that you would still very much like to visit?

 

Judy:- There are many countries in Europe i would still like to visit, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, Greece, more of France, Austria.....

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Were there battles between how you wanted to have your hair and how you were asked to wear it on the show?

 

Judy:- The hair stylists were very lenient about how they let us wear our hair during the series. Actually in the later years the styles were more modern than they should have been. During the later reunion movies when we were in the 60's i really did hate the hair styles i had to wear, but i lost that battle!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Through having been on the show and working within the industry, has this allowed you to meet and work with other famous people?

 

Judy:- Yes, and i'm still enough of a "fan " of the movies to be excited about meeting and working with famous people. ( I'm not going to name drop).

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- As well as many quality and hard hitting story lines there appeared to be many fun times and laughs, tell us about those times?

 

Judy:- The cast really just enjoyed hanging out together. We worked at warner Bros. Studios which had a great bacl lot. Often we would use the Westernsets, NY streets, Town Square etc as our playgrounds. We shot our own little movie, created a Walton school newspaper, visited other film and TV sets. The younger cast grew up together and shared our personal experiences, served as confidantes for each other and supported each other through good and bad times.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- If a top chef offered to cook you any three course meal what would you ask them to cook for you?

 

Judy:- I love soups and salads so those would be the first two courses, then a fish or chicken dish with vegetables. Nothing fried, breaded or in heavy sauces.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How often would you speak, email and have contact with the other Walton actors?

 

Judy:- With some cast members its most months we have some contact. With others, every few months. Unfortunately, we dont have the chance to actually all see each other very often. Everyone is very busy with their own lives and families.

 

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 PART 3:- 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- In between filming did you mix/eat with actors from other shows being filmed at the same time?

 

Judy:- Yes, sometimes. Our cast would often go to the studio commissary and would run into actors from other shows. We were friends with fellow actors like Rademus Pera, ( Kung Fu ) and the younger cast of Eight is Enough.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- When we see you all sat at that table, how many people would be on set behind the camera that we didnt see?

 

Judy:- There was an entire crew, many needed to be there to monitor their particular department. camera crew, lighting crew, grips ( who moved the camera, set flags for lights etc ), prop people, hair, make up, sound, director, assistant directors.... 20 - 30 people potentially.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What interests do you have in terms of sports, music, pets etc?

 

Judy:- My hobbies over the years have been mostly sports related. Ski ing, water ski ing, tennis, skydiving... i still jump horses and have abeautiful horse called Hadrian that i've had now for just over a year. ( He's a thoroughbred, 3/4 Dutch Warmblood ).

We have 2 cats, a chinchilla, my son has 2 snakes, he has had a bird, hamsters....

Music has always been a part of my life. I also sing and frequently perform in concert. Having trained in musical theater, my musical listening choices range from classic rock to broadway, standards, country, "oldies" and a smattering in between.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What were your feelings when you learnt about the show coming to an end?

 

Judy:- It was difficult to absorb the news that the show had ended. I literally found out through the news since we were on hiatus already. I dont even know how long it took to sink in. Very surreal to think i wouldnt be returning on a regular basis to warner Bros Studios, Stage 26 where the interior sets were for the Walton House, Godseys General Store, The Baldwin Sisters house.... and the back lot where our house, barn, sawmill and various back roads were. To not spend 9 months a year, 5 days a week with my amazing TV family... it was incredibly bittersweey.

 

I knew life needed to move on and i was excited to move on to the new adventures my life would hold, but saying goodbye to 11 years of my life was very sad.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Have you kept any memorabilia from your character from the show as a momento?

 

Judy:- No. The only article i inadvertenly wound up with was the wedding ring i wore when i married Curt. Somehow i ended up taking it home and still have it. ( It wasnt real Gold, so i dont think they minded! ).

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Since the show ended it continues to be shown around the world in so many different countries, how does this make you feel in terms of the part you played in the shows success?

 

Judy:- I'm so proud to be part of this enduring show. The messages, the basic values of the show, the talented actors all contributed to creating a timeless TV classic. The "Good Nights" are iconic, and "Good night, Mary Ellen" is probably the phrase i have heard the most over the years! Being a part of television history, and knowing audiences all over the world continue to embrace the show, is both humbling and tremendously satisfying.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What can you tell us about the projects you have been involved with in more recent years?

 

Judy:- Besides continuing to act, i have also branched out into writing and directing for both theatre and film and television. I'm involved with a new TV series being shot in Canada called BLUFF. It should be available to be seen by the end of 2013. I wrote the feature film, "Finding Harmony" which is scheduled to be released later in 2013. I have several other film projects in "development". On stage i work regularly with Texas Family Musicals- writing, directing, performing in musicals and concerts.

 

The easiest way to keep updated on what i am doing is through me website: www.judynorton.com ( you can subscribe and will be sent updates whenever new projects are posted ). I also have a "fan/friend" page that i keep updated and where people can interact with me.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What ambitions do you have in the industry going forward?

 

Judy:- I'm really enjoying the writing and directing for film and television and i would love to continue to do more of this as well as continuing to act and sing.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- At any stage were you able to have any input into Mary Ellen's story lines in the show?

 

Judy:- Once in a while. I particularly recall later in the series, after Mary Ellen had married Curt and had John Curtis, it seemed to me that she had changed from this wonderful rebelious tomboy who wasnt going to conform to a traditional woman's role- into a stay at home mom with no particular goal. I spoke with the producers and story editors about this, and they decided to have Mary Ellen go back to school to become a doctor. It was great because it gave me some wonderful story lines and brought back the strong, feisty character of Mary Ellen.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do the sets for the show still exist?

 

Judy:- Not that i know of as far as the interior sets. The original house exterior burned down in a studio fire. It was rebuilt for one of our reunion TV movies and subsequently moved to another studio lot. We used it in that location for the last of our reunion movies. As far as i know it is still on that lot and used for various film shoots.

 

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We have to say a HUGE thank you to Judy for such a brilliant interview and for her honesty in her answers. Remember the only way you can read the exclusive Part 4 of our interview with Judy is by becoming a member of the society. In Part 4 Judy, tells about her many memories of scenes filmed around the dinner table, about the jokers on set, her favourite memories from episodes, the most common questions fans ask her about the show, her thoughts about creator Earl Hamner, what influenced her to stay within the industry and what she could not manage life without... as well as many other answers to our questions, it really is not to be missed, so join up as a member today and be ready to receive Part 4 of the interview with Judy, this final part will be issued to all members during January 2014.

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80 year old Ronnie, has spoken exclusivly to the society in a short interview which she hopes you enjoy reading and which she is pleased to provide. 

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Waltons Friendship Society:- Can you tell us about you getting the part in the series?

 

Ronnie:- I auditioned in the usual way for the part and am not aware if anyone else went up for the part.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- The clothes you wore were in keeping with the period in which the show was set, what did you think about what you were asked to wear?

 

Ronnie:- Actually i did like the clothes i was asked to wear.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Amongst the cast who would you say was the joker on set?

 

Ronnie:- Definetly John Ritter!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What word would you use to describe your feeling when the series ended?

 

Ronnie:- Sad.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How would you feel about any future specials?

 

Ronnie:- If a script could be agreed, Yes, i would agree to take part.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Sum up how you feel about how it feels that the series continues to be shown all around the world?

 

Ronnie:- Proud.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Name favourite city in the world that you have visited?

 

Ronnie:- Venice.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How do you feel about playing a part on one of the most successful American TV series of all time?

 

Ronnie:- Inadequate.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What would you say if asked about Earl Hamner?

 

Ronnie:- A gentleman and a friend.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Who is the most famous person you have met?

 

Ronnie:- Marilyn Munroe!

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We really appreciate Ronnie taking the time and trouble to chat with us. She adds that many more answers can be found inside her book, " Mr Godsey asked me to marry him, and i said yes". Thanks Ronnie.

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Jon Walmsley very kindly agreed to be interviewed exclusivly for this society in November 2013. By reading the interview you will hopefully realize the caring attitude, the humerous side, the hard working side that all exist in Jon and much much more. We very much appreciate Jon taking time out of his always busy schedule to speak with us and we all hope you enjoy reading this interview

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PART ONE:-

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon, before joining the Waltons, can you tell us about any acting you had done?

 

Jon:- I started acting aged ten, as a result of having been seen playing guitar and singing on a childrens TV Talent Show. My first acting role on television was in a show called, "Combat" with Vic Morrow. I played an English war orphan. My early roles seemed to be as a result of my musical ability or that i still had the remnants of an English accent, as when i was cast as the voice of Christopher Robin in "Winnie The Pooh And The blustery Day" at Disney. I did also play other roles before the Waltons.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:-  Can you tell us about the selection process when you got the part on the Waltons?

 

Jon:- To be honest i dont remember much about it except i knew they were looking for a red-haired boy who played the harmonica. I was aged fiftenn at the time . My mother drove me to CBS for the audition. I played harmonica and read a few lines and that was it. Earl Hamner told me later that one reason i got the part was because i looked more like his son than his own son did!!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Did you know of anyone who either did or did not get a part during the selection process?

 

Jon:- Other than the kids who were cast in the film, i dont remember who was there.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- In terms of your hair cut style and the clothes you were asked to wear on the show, did you have any input at all into that?

 

Jon:- Not really. It was the 70's. I really wanted long hair and sideburns and there was just no way...

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Robert Donner was a fans favourite on the show. What can you tell us about him?

 

Jon:- We all loved Bob Donner. He was a fabulously versatile actor. We always loved having him on the show and would make a point of watching his scenes being filmed. As soon as the director would yell "Cut" there would always be laughter and applause from the cast and crew.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- The unity of any family is precious, what can you tell us about the unity on and off screen of the Waltons cast?

 

Jon:- We were close from the beginning and remain so to this day. I think that contributed to the realism and success of the show. A bunch of us just got together for dinner at Michaels . It always feels as though no time has passed.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Since the show ended it continues to be shown around the world on TV in so many countries, how does that make you feel in terms of the part you played in the shows success?

 

Jon:- I'm pleased that people are still enjoying the show. In 2004 i met my wife Marion in Germany when she was promoting the series for German Television. I dont speak much German in real life, but on The Waltons, Spreche ich sehr gut Deutsch! ( I speak very good German)

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Can you sum up your musical career since the show, where you have performed, who with, size of audiences etc. Its wrong to ask you just one question about such an important part of your life so please feel frre to expand here.

 

Jon:- I've been fortunate to have done a variety of things in the music world, from songwriting, producing, playing sessions for television shows and doing concerts large and small ( from 5 people to 50,000) over much of the world. When i played guitar with Richard Marx we travelled extensively. Some of my favourite venues were places the Beatles played like the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Circus Krone in Munich. A full list of my music credits is available on facebook ( www.facebook.com/jonwalmsleyfan)

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What can you tell us about projects you have been involved with during recent years?

 

Jon:- There've been many. Some highlights are the live concert/videos "Primal Twang" and "Love-in", peforming on the soundtracks of the series "7th Heaven" and "secret Life Of The American Teenager", and recording CD's with Stepohen Collins, The Muppets, The Sunflowers and The UK Beat. I've also been involved for many years as a musical director for the "Soecial Angel" project which seeks to reach at-risk teenagers through music ( www.specialangel.com) . Currently i'm working on a CD project with Earl Hamner called " A joyful Noise". Its a collection of stories, written and narrated by Earl Hamner with musical arrangements by yours truly!.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What plans and ambitions do you have for the future?

 

Jon:- I need to get my federal income tax filled in by April 15th!!!!!!!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Did you have any input in terms of the development of your character or story lines that were covered by Jason?

 

Jon:- In a way. We all found as the stories went on that episodes from our real lives were written into the shows. For me, it was the development of Jason as a musical character. The funny thing is, Jason went on to a music conservatory to study. This was my own plan originally but i had to forego it... to do the Waltons....

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- The weekend is all yours to do what you want, what do you choose to do?

 

Jon:- Sleep!!! Actually Marion and i try to get involved in outdoor activities. We live near the beach and its a great place to walk, bike or kayak. We also try to go hiking or camping as often as we can.

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Part Two

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon, between filming did you guys mix/eat with actors from other shows being filmed at the same time?

 

Jon:- We did. The odd thing about The Waltons cast was that we always ate together and would include any actor who happened to be working on the show that week. Normally, on a TV show everyone goes their separate way at lunch time. Several actors have told us that they were treated better on our set than on the other shows they were doing at the time.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Several of you had to ride animals and drive vehicles for the show, did you have to learn to these off set?

 

Jon:- I loved driving the old cars on the show. I more or less learned to drive a manual transmission on the show. I didnt fare so well with the white mule"Blue". i never learned to ride properly but i got really good at falling off!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- They say dont work with children and animals, The Waltons did both! Can you tell us about any incidents involving animals when things didnt go to plan?

 

Jon:- Scenes with animals hardly ever went according to plan. A camel was brought in one day and used off-camera to scare the normally calm mule, who was on-camera. It worked for for a few takes , until the mule got used to the camel. Then it was discovered that the mule could be just as easily frightened by someone banging dust bin lids together! By the way, did you know that chickens are cannibalistic? One day we threw some fried chicken into the chicken coop. They loved it!

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon, what did your own family think and say about you having such a successful role in such a loved series?

 

Jon:- My parents were very proud. They were not in show business and the whole music/acting thin caught them completely off guard, but they were very supportive.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What can you tell us about your own family life since leaving the show?

 

Jon:- I am very happily married and have a beautiful twenty year old daughter. Im enjoying the best time of my life, so far.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon, what countries are amongst those you have traveled too during your life?

 

Jon:- As a touring musician, i've been in all 50 states of the US, Canada, Mexico, throughout Europe, Australia, Japan and the Philippines. My favorite countries to go back to are England and Germany. Wonder why???

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- At Waltons gatherings what are the most common questions that fans continue to ask you about?

 

Jon:- Its usually something like "where did you film the show?2, "was it fun?", "Do you all stay in touch?" etc

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Can you tell us about the well known people you have met during your career?

 

Jon:- There have been so many. I've had good and bad experiences. I told Natalie Wood i was in love with her, and she smiled and laughed and was most charming. When i met Ringo, he told me it was his day off. Chuck Berry i left alone, because i heard he'd punched Keith Richards in the face on their first meeting. These days, i hold a rather dim view of celebrities and "fame" in general. With the advent of reality shows, people are famous merely for being famous.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Ralph and Michael were your onscreen parents and the nations adopted parents, what can you tell us about such fine actors?

 

Jon:- John and Olivia were model parents, not because they were perfect, but because they loved each other and their children and communicated well. Ralph and Michael, like most of us were and are "works in progress". Like the rest of the cast, its great to see how they developed. They were always there for us and still are.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How did it feel to grow from a young boy into a man on screen right in front of everyone?

 

Jon:- I didnt really think about it, that is until i would meet someone who expected me to be "Jason". Initially, i felt obliged to be who they thought i was. It was very frustrating. Ultimately, i learned that all i could ever do was to be myself.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Have you got a favourite book and film?

 

Jon:- When i was a kid my favorite book was "Huckleberry Finn" by Mark twain. I loved the idea of floating down the Mississippi on a raft. Most recently the book that had the biggest effect on me was "Autobiography Of A Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda. I nlike his idea that all religions are equally good and compatible. If more people felt that way, it would solve a great many of the problems in the world.

 

I have so many favorite movies, its difficult to choose. I tend to like classics, and story based films. One that comes to mind is "The Godfather". While it has some action, its the performances and storyline that makes it compelling.

 

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- As the token "UK born" cast member but of course adopted American, do you realize how proud everyone is of you?

 

Jon:- I didnt know.... im flattered. Thanks

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PART 3:-

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon, your character played several musical instruments, did you know how to play any before the show and was this a criteria during selection?

 

Jon:- By the time the walton's came along, i had already played Guitar, Keyboard, Bass, Drums, Cello, Flute and Harmonica. The Homecoming script had Jason playing the Harmonica, but it was something that could just as easily been cut out. It was just easy for the writers to peg Jason as the "Musical Walton".

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon tell us about your memories about the many scenes filmed around the dinner table?

 

Jon:- Oh God! We filmed all the meal scenes in the same day, so thats hours and hours of eating cold, stale food. The kitchen set was small and crowded and by the end of the day there was a real lack of oxygen which led to a great deal of silliness and many takes ruined by the cast breaking up laughing!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you have any favourite memories in terms of episodes from the series?

 

Jon:- There were a few that stick out. I enjoyed working with Ron Howard, with Merle Haggard and Dean Jagger among others.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon what can you say about the actors, Will Geer, Ellen Corby, Joe Conley. Special Walton people.

 

Jon:- They were all special, unique people and performers. Will and Ellen taught me a lot about acting. I used to perform in folk music concerts with Will and would escort Ellen to Hollywood events as her "date". Joe was a ray of sunshine. I've never known a more positive person. They are all greatly missed.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Jon in the first few years following the ending of the show, what did you do?

 

Jon:- I just carried on playing music, my first love.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Are there places you would still love to visit?

 

Jon:- I'd like to visit the Channel Islands soon and would love to see more of Scandinavia.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How do you feel about playing a part on one of the most successful American Tv series of all time?

 

Jon:- Pretty good.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:-Jon, if a famour chef offered to cook you a 3 course meal, what would you ask them for?

 

Jon:- My wife isnt famous but shes an awfully good cook and i have the waist line to prove it. I like all kinds of food as long as it's vegetarian. Some of my favourites are Italian, Mexican and Indian. Lately, Marion has been making a lot of homemade German-style breads and jams.

 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- Jon did you continue your acting career after the show in any way?

 

Jon:- I did'nt really pursue it. I was too busy concentrating on music. Acting is a really tough profession. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless it was truly their greatest love and joy in life.

 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- David and kami were so very young at the start, yet appeared to cope with the work load so well, how did they manage and how did you all help them?

 

Jon:- I don't know that we helped them at all!! Being the youngest they were sometimes excluded from the activities of the older kids and adults. The good thing is, there was always a good support group of parents, teachers and others on the set who helped to look out for them.

 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- Of all the people from the series the one we know least about is David, what can you tell the fans about him?

 

Jon:- He's the one we know the least about too! If you find something out, let us know!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Will and Ellen fitted so well into the show and together, how did all of you younger cast members get on with them?

 

Jon:- Everyone loved Will and Ellen. They contributed so much to the show and balanced each other perfectly, like salt and pepper. Will always tempted us to get into mischief and Ellen always kept us in line. It was perfect!

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The concluding part to the exclusive interview with Jon will be sent out to all current members in June 2014. In the final part Jon tells us about the fun that was had on and off screen with all the cast, life away from the set during filming, how he felt when the series ended, his thoughts about creator Earl Hamner, about the many guest actors who appeared on the series, he describes each of his siblings from the show and the best thing about having been on the show and much more.

 

 

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Tom Bower, who played Curtis Willard in the series, and who was the first to marry on screen one of the Walton family, agreed to speak to us. A great guy it was a pleasure to have a chat with him and from that conversation, here is the first part of our interview with Tom.

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Part 1:- 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Hello Tom, did you know much about The waltons series before you joined it as a regular?

 

Tom:- Yes, i appeared in an episode of an earlier Waltons series called, "The Wing Walker" which i really enjoyed doing so i had met many of the cast when filming that episode. I also already new Ralph Waite through other work and via mutual friends.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What can you tell us about the selection process you went through?

 

Tom:- From memory 3 actors were up for the part and my agent had discussions with the shows people. I think having appeared in that previous episode helped my face fit when the decision was finally made.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Were you told that your character was being brought in to marry Mary Ellen?

 

Tom:- Yes, that was explained to me from the start, so i knew that was the story line. That did add some pressure to the role as it was the first of the Walton children to get married in the series, so it was an important time for the show.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- The show continues to be screened around the world on TV, how does that make you feel in terms of the part you played in the series?

 

Tom:- Very privileged. I am aware that so many countries continue to screen the series, and its very strange to think that people are watching you on TV all around the world, even while i am asleep, which is very weird indeed.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:-Were you offered the chance to return to the series when the character was brought back and how did it feel watching someone else play your part?

 

Tom:- I would of considered returning had the opportunity arisen. I had been offered other work by then as well. I actually knew the actor who took my place which was strange. I didnt think it was too strong a story line when my character briefly returned to the series. It is always a challenge for writers to make that situation happen and convince an established audience, its not easy.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Have you travelled much in your life?

 

Tom:- Yes i have been lucky to of done that a lot. I have visited countries such as Morocco, France, Germany, Holland and several other European countries. My wife is from Poland and we got to visit there not long after the iron curtain came down which was a great experience for us both. I also love the UK and seeing London both as a tourist and as a normal visitor, its a great place to be in. Many of the countries i have visited has been through my acting work.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you have a message for the Waltons fans?

 

Tom:- I think we all thank them very much indeed and in fact it would be a great feeling for me to be able to meet with them at some point and talk with them about their thoughts about the show, something which i hope can be arranged in the future.

 

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Waltons Friendship Society:- Tom did you get any reaction in the form of Mail to your character marrying Mary Ellen?

 

Tom:- Yes! There was a number of correspondance to me following the event happening. The marriage episode which was filmed as a two part episode, attracted a remarkable 25 Million viewers, which looking back was a phenomenal figure, so it was only natural that people would react in different ways.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- The Walton family had 4 sons, did you sort of become an adopted member of their group when you joined the series?

 

Tom:- Very much so. They welcomed me in, involved me, and made me feel very at home and one of the boys. I was very grateful for them doing that.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Tom have you kept any memorabilia from the show, or from your character?

 

Tom:- No, i dont think so? I remember we received very nice generous gifts at times such as Christmas time which was very nice of the shows people.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Since leaving the series have you kept in touch with any of the cast?

 

Tom:- Yes through work amongst actors i was in contact with Mary McDonough and i had mutual friends with both Judy Norton and Ralph Waite, so yes there was some contact. More recently i have met up with the cast at reunions which has been a great pleasure to do.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- On your travels Tom, have you a favourite city?

 

Tom:- Yes, that has to be New York. I find it exciting and a great place to be in.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you enjoy sports or any other hobbies?

 

Tom:- We love to watch films at the movie theatres, whichever city we happen to be in. I also love sports and like watching live inside some great stadiums as well as on T.V. I played college football as a youngster and had dreams of becoming a professional one day. I follow the N.F.L. and like several teams but if i had to be pinned down to a favourite it would have to be the Denver Broncos. If it is baseball, well i follow the Boston Red Sox. But i like several sports really. Soccer is big in the US now but wasnt when i was growing up in school.

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Part 3 and the concluding part of our exclusive interview with Tom will be available to members only in May 2014. In part 3 Tom tells us how the established group of actors made him feel welcome, his observations about the many dinner table scenes, the jokers amongst the cast, his thoughts about the other actors, how he feels to of been a part of one of America's most successful TV series and the question everyone keeps asking, Why did he leave the series, well Tom gives us the truth about that! Dont miss it.

 

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Actor Keith Coogan played the part of Jeffrey in the series. Here he gives an exclusive interview about his time on the show to our society. We are very grateful to Keith for allowing us time to speak with him and we hope you enjoy reding what he has to say.

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Part 1:-

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Hi Keith, thanks for agreeing to talk with us all. Firstly can you tell us about the selection process you went through for the part on the series? Were there many people going for the part?

 

Keith:- I know that Noah Hathaway was cast as "Jeffrey", but since the set teacher for "The Waltons", Glen Woodmansee, did not speak French, which was a deal breaker for Noah, i was subsequently cast, and the rest is history!.

 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- You were joining an already established and very successful series, how did that make you feel, and how did you deal with that?

 

Keith:- Yes, the show was established, but the show had also slipped in the ratings to below the top 30 mark. Brininging in Martha Nix Wade and me was an attempt to add younger faces to the aging cast. Only Elizabeth and Jim-Bob were still under 18. They got to "roll the clock back" adding two new younger family members and it also gave them the creators a chance to tell stories involving bad behaviour, child abuse, lying, stealing, and other crimes and moral misdeeds, without corrupting the original cast and their characters.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How were you welcomed by the cast, did anyone in particular help you settle in and look after you?

 

Keith:- Every single cast member went out of their way to instantly and without reservation welcome Martha, Peggy Rae, and me as regular cast members.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How good were you at that age at learning your lines?

 

Keith:- I could read since i was 3, and had a photographic memory. Learning lines was probably the easiest part of the job.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Kami and David were closest to you in terms of age, how did you get on with them?

 

Keith:- I think i bugged the hell out of them during set school. But they were pretty nice to me despite my need for constant attention.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What was the most difficult thing you were asked to do during filming?

 

Keith:- Cry, when their dog "Reckless" ran away from home to die in the forest. Dying dogs are never a good time.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What did you family think about you appearing in such a famous show?

 

Keith:- They took it just fine. Remember, my grandfather was Jackie Coogan, the worlds first child film star. So it took quite a bit to impress my family.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What countries have you visited during your life?

 

Keith:- Australia, Canada, Mexico. England, France, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Kenya and Tanzania.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- What is the best city you have ever visited?

 

Keith:- There is no "best" city. I think they are all pretty different and have their own merits. I would like to go back to France though.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Keith, have you a message for the many Waltons fans around the world?

 

Keith:- Love each other, and God Bless!

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Part 2:-

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How did you manage having to handle and deal with so many animals on the series?

 

Keith:- They call me the animal whisperer. I had to work with horses, dogs, cats and my favourite a chicken named George. The chicken was particularly hard to handle, but i worked closely with the trainers to be able to control it and keep it calm. I used to walk around the set with that chicken under my arm, head tucked inside its wing to keep it mellow.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Do you have any favourite memories in terms of episodes from the series?

 

Keith:- The Chicken..... it.ll always be about that dam chicken. Every day on the set was an adventure, and an escape back to a simpler time in a simpler place.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Have you kept any memorabilia from your character from the series as a memento?

 

Keith:-Nothing from the character, but i did keep a leather bound script holder the entire cast received for Christmas that year. I still use it on shoots whenever i can. Its my magic script holder.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- Can you tell us about your on screen relationship with Martha Nix who played Serena? Do you remain friends today?

 

Keith:- We do, and i'll always treasure the sister i never had. She runs a non-profit called A Quarter Blue, and is happily raising her own family.

 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- Do you keep in touch with any ot the other cast members from the series?

 

Keith:- I just ran into Mary (Erin) and Eric (Ben) at a childstar survivor reunion. There were probably 30 former child stars there, and when the DJ played the theme song from a show that you were on, you had to get up and dance!

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- How did you fit in schooling whilst filming?

 

Keith:- 3 hours a day at the hands of Glen Woodmansee. If we didnt work that day, then we could "Bank" school time for the future shooting days. I even had another production company "buy" my banked hours after that year was over, to be used on other shows i worked on.

 

 

Waltons friendship Society:- How would you describe the actors who played the central Walton's characters?

 

Keith:- Good casting, because everyone had a really good heart, humour, and love for each other.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- In the first few years following your time on the show what did you do craeer wise?

 

Keith:- Guest starred on tons of episodic television like Fantasy Island, Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy, Little House On The Prairie and the animated Disney feature, "The Fox and The Hound", as well as starred in a CBS Childrens Mystery Theater special, "Its a Living", and a Ray Bradbury educational fiction film, "All Summer in a Day". I also won a "Youth in Film" award for my guest star appearance in Knight Rider. That takes us from 1980 to about 1982. Then i got even busier later with starring roles in films like "Adventures In Babysitting", "Hiding Out", "Cousins", "Toy Soldiers", and "Dont Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead" once i turned 17.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- If you could have a 30 minute conversation with anyone from history who would you choose?

 

Keith:- Charles Chaplin.

 

 

Waltons Friendship Society:- You get the chance to cook for the U.S. President, what meal would you prepare for him?

 

Keith:- Ribs, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and cold beer.

 

 

In Part 3 available to members only Keith talks about his memories of dinner table scenes, practical jokes played by the cast, talks about leaving the show, his family life as an adult, and his most prized 3 possessions!

 

Part 3 has now been sent out to all current members, so as soon as you join up you will also be sent all final parts to all interviews too, dont delay, join today!

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Waltons Friendship Society

 

43 Ophelia Drive 
Stratford Upon Avon

Warwickshire

England

CV37 0BL

Email us: Ashtonmartin@sky.com

Want to join us?

Then simply complete the application form via the membership heading at the top of this page.

Membership Prices Frozen again for 2014!!!

Why become a member?

 

1) You will be entered free of charge into every single Society competition which have brilliant prizes, see our competition page.

 

2) It is the only way to receive the concluding part of every interview with people from the show, see interview page.

** So far we have concluding parts of our exclusive society interviews with both series creator Earl Hamner as well as Judy Norton who played Mary Ellen in the series, waiting to be sent out to you as soon as you become a member, with more to follow, so join today!

 

3) Should an event involving people from the series be organized by our society then members will receive a priority ticket booking period before non-members.

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COMPETITION No1:- The first Walton Friendship Society competition has now been drawn and won by a society member living in Yorkshire in England, see the competition page for more details and winners reaction.

 

Competition No2:- This competition prize is also a book written by a cast member. "My Secret Life" by Martha Nix Wade who played Serena in the series.  

 

The prize draw date was February 28th 2014.The competition has now been drawn and won by a waltons fan from Kent here in the UK, congratulations Sarah the prize is on its way to you.

 

Competition No3:- The prize is a book written by author Jeb Rosebrook, its an adaptation from the two hour waltons episode called The Conflict. The prize draw will take place in late June 2014 and is free to all current society members. Good luck.

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