Waltons Friendship Society
Waltons Friendship Society


Here is an aerial shot of Warner Brothers Lot. The green space at the top of the photo is where almost all the exteriors for the show were filmed.




This is stage 26, where we films almost all the interior scenes of The Waltons. We went to school in a green trailer parked on this street.



July 2013. Michael appears in Driving Miss Daisy and here is an interview with her during her appearances.


EDMONTON — Stargazers are abuzz about A-list celebrities recently spotted in Edmonton, including Hilary Duff, John Malkovich and Miley Cyrus with her on-again off-again beau Liam Hemsworth.

They’re not the only stars in our midst. Michael Learned, who played mother Olivia Walton in the iconic 1970s television series The Waltons, has been in town since the end of June. She is playing the title role the Mayfield Dinner Theatre’s production of Driving Miss Daisy. (The shows runs through Aug. 4.)

The veteran actor says she’s always been able to fly under the celebrity radar, even in The Waltons’s heyday.

“I’ve always led a normal life,” Learned says. “Stood in line with everybody else at the movies, rode on the buses, and nobody’s ever bothered me except to say, ‘We like your show.’ ” It helped that she was younger than her character and had short blond hair in real life (Ma Walton wore her long red hair up).

For those of you too young to remember: The Waltons was an Emmy-Award-winning show that aired Thursday evenings on CBS throughout the 1970s. The story revolved around the life of a struggling family with seven kids during the Great Depression. Watching The Waltons became a weekly ritual for American and Canadian families. Say “Good night John-Boy!” to most anyone over the age of 50 and they’ll get the reference to the show’s signature ending: a chorus of “good nights” voiced over a shot of the Waltons’s house from the outside.

It had never been Learned’s intention to commit to a television series, never mind one that would cement her and her co-stars in TV history. But some things are “preordained,” she says. The year was 1972 and her marriage to Canadian-born actor Peter Donat was over. Learned needed work to support her three children, and planned to return to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where she’d worked the year before. The role of Olivia Walton didn’t appeal; Patricia Neil had played the matriarch in the pilot, which aired as a television movie, and Learned thought she was quite different. But her agent kept pushing and pushing, so Learned tried out and was offered the part. “The role gave me the stability, a steady paycheque,” the 74-year-old recalls. “It was more right for me than I knew.”

Learned was able to draw on her maternal side and domestic skills to portray Olivia Walton, the hardworking, good-natured mother of seven children in the show, set in rural Virginia in the 1930s and 1940s. When Ma Walton was rolling out pie dough, Learned was doing it the way she did at home, which added legitimacy to her role. “To me, it’s ‘God is in the details.’ ”

Though Learned is best known for her work in television, she far prefers the theatre.

“Stage is an exhilarated exhaustion, television is more of a grind. It’s ‘horse running a race’ versus plowing a field.”

Here in Edmonton, she puts on a killer Miss Daisy Werthan, the title character in the drama, owly, purse-lipped and self-righteous, yet soft on the inside. Learned has an exhausting number of costume and wig changes and a robust catalogue of facial expressions that would impress even Jim Carrey. The actor says she’s grateful to be working with Nova Scotia-born Walter Borden, who plays chauffeur Hoke Colburn in the Mayfield production. “He is so transcendent in this role,” Learned says of Borden, a member of the Order of Canada. “Some nights, I just feel empty and I look into Walter’s eyes and he just pulls me in.”

Certainly it’s more challenging to portray characters that Hollywood has burned into the collective memory. Jessica Tandy played Miss Daisy and Morgan Freeman played Hoke in the Oscar-winning 1989 film, and comparisons are inevitable.

“I’m thrilled when someone says, ‘I like the play better than the movie,’ ” says Learned. She feels she hasn’t made the role her own when someone says she did it “as well as” Tandy.

Miss Daisy has been a mainstay role for Learned over the years, and it’s the reason she’s got a furry companion named Daisy, too. Ten years ago, during a run of Driving Miss Daisy in Kansas, Learned was grieving the death of her dog. Other people from the show insisted she check out rescue animals at the local shelter. Up for adoption was a black-and-white terrier whose named just so happened to be named Daisy. It was meant to be.

Now 14, Daisy travels everywhere with Learned. The dog is a friendly, cuddly creature who helps fill the void when her owner is away from home. Which is a lot. Learned has been on the road performing for two years.

“I’m kinda worn out, to tell you the truth,” she says. She can’t wait to go home at the end of this run (no offence, Edmonton) to be with her husband in Los Angeles, and is planning to take some time off. Don’t think for a minute she’s putting herself out to pasture, though. Learned is considering going back to school to study literature or history. Life, to her, is about work. “I don’t know how to do much else.”

In that way, she has the spirit and determination of Miss Daisy, who at the start of the play protests vehemently after her son Boolie hires her a driver (in part because the driver is black). “I was brought up to do for myself,” Daisy proclaims, a line that must resonate with Learned.

The similarities end there. Miss Daisy is a wealthy southern Jewish woman battling her ingrained racial prejudices in the play, which earned playwright Alfred Uhry the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1988. The title character is haughty, proper and uptight, unlike Learned, who swears liberally, jokes about her faults and failures, and is more accepting of the changes that come with age. Pinched nerves in her back mean Learned can’t take jazz classes anymore — “I’ve always been so active and it bugs the hell out of me,” she notes — but the actor is determined to enjoy what’s left of her life. “You have to keep letting go and letting go, and try to be a good sport about it.”

She’s been a good sport about the way The Waltons has shaped the course of her life, too. For years after she left the show in 1979, Learned felt boxed in by her character. She was restricted to nurturing roles like nurses and nuns, she explains. “I was never cast in movies because of that role. I was limited by it.”

Growing older has helped ease those restrictions. “All the parts for older women are, pardon me, bitchy, and that’s a lot of fun for me.”

In recent years, her gratitude for The Waltons years has intensified. “It’s a great honour to be part of someone’s childhood,” Learned says, and to have women who do recognize her approach her and say, “You taught me to be a mother.”

The actors on the show were her other family, she says — and yes, they still keep in touch and see one another regularly. Next up, they’ll be signing autographs on a fan cruise that originates in England. “I don’t think I could have done a series for eight years if we didn’t love each other,” Learned says. “I don’t know how other people do it. I’m not that good an actor.”




About her name, Michael

“I wasn’t crazy about it as a kid. Children accepted my name, my friends did, but adults didn’t believe me when I would tell them my name. They’d say, ‘What’s your real name?’ And I’d say, ‘Michael.’ And they’d say, “ ‘C’mon, are you SURE it’s not Michelle?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you sure it’s not MICKEY?’ And that would make me feel fraudulent. I used to lie and say, ‘My name is Betty.’ I had an initial ring that had belonged to my father when he was a boy and I would hold it up — it had a B on it, his name was Bruce — and say, ‘My name is BETTY.’ ”

“There’s no story behind my name. I am the oldest of six girls. I just jokingly say, a few martinis and they (my parents) probably thought it was cute. There are other Michaels around now. I had a friend named Bam, that was her name and her sister’s name was Peter, and I remember feeling very comforted by that. It was no great hardship.”


July 2013. Kami works at a school and they are having a brand new play ground built, here is the work being done.

Photo: KaBOOM! Builds a playground at ECMS


This is the link across to the Facebook page of Jon Walmsley who played Jason, here you can see even more up to date information about him. www.facebook.com/jonwalmsleyfan



Waltons Bloopers!


If you go to YouTube and type in a search of "Waltons out takes and bloopers" it will bring up a link which you can click on and open which will show you some really funny Waltons out takes from across the series. There are some real howlers so enjoy watching them.


Also via Youtube you can search for and watch The Homecoming which was the pilot show before the actual series. I know that many people across Europe may never have seen this and you have told me you have not been able to buy this on DVD in Europe, so you are able to watch it via Youtube.



Christmas Memories


Back in 1976 the Waltons children were all asked about how they spent Christmas in their own homes and with their own families. It is very interesting to now look back and to read what they all had to say.


Richard Thomas practically grew up back stage at his parents ballet compnay in New York. Christmas was considered special by the Thomas's, a day when they were all together. This Christmas Richard and his wife Alma will celebrate their 2nd Christmas together. Continuing in the Thomas tradition, Richard himself will buy and cook the Christmas dinner, "Were going to have roast goose" he says, " with my own secret stuffing as the star of the menu, then i think we'll top it off with Plum Pudding and hard sauce and of course steaming hot coffee".


A native Califonian, Judy Norton really enjoys being on the Waltons. "It gives me a better idea of what life was like in the depression years of the 1930's" She has learned that if families stick together in good and bad times things can be worked out. Christmas means a lot to do, Judy too... especially those fabulous holiday dinners. As a newlywed, she's looking forward to Christmas 1976 and plans to continue the family tradition with her very first roast turkey dinner.


English born Jon Walmsley is a serious young actor and versatile musician, as well as a gifted soup artist! After late evening Jam sessions he will frequently serve up some hot soup blending 2 or 3 varities. At Christmas Jon joins his parents for a traditional Walmsley English dinner. Mothers speciality is Yorkshire pudding, says Jon, which she serves with roast beef and garden fresh vegetables.


Believed to be a desendant of Andrew Jackson, Mary McDonough's family heritage goes back a long way. So Christmas is a time for reunions. Long tables are set up and every family contributes to the meal. We have turkey, ham, salads, vegetables and all kinds of cakes. My mother is famous for her Poppy seed cake, i can make it too. Of course the McDonough's arent the only ones that have to eat so every Christmas Eve just before going to bed the children set out cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph!


18 year old Eric Scott is one of those special people born right in Hollywood. "I think being raised in a show business atmosphere makes you more sensitive to other people", he says. At Christmas Eric enjoys being at home with his family and the good spirit the holiday brings. Not to mention the cookies. According to Eric, Mrs Scott is an expert cookie baker, my favourite is something mom calls spice gumdrop hermit, he says, she makes them every Christmas.


As one of the youngest members of the cast, 15 years old David Harper seems almost unaware of his actor status. Ask him about Christmas and David will tell you its great because there is no school and you have more time to come up with all kinds of gooey ice-cream concoctions. One of his specialities is to crush peppermint candy canes on top of the vanilla ice-cream topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherries!


Since both her parents work, Kami Cotler's family makes every effort to relax and see friends at Christmas. Mrs Cotler likes to serve, "finger food buffet parties" and Kami enjoys helping. One of Kami's favourite specialities is to fill pitted dates with peanut butter and roll them in sugar. If you roll some in coloured sugar and some in white sugar you can design them in a box and give them as a present, Kami explains.


Since these great 1976 Christmas memories have been shared some of the actors family circumstances have changed, but i wonder if their Christmas traditions are still taking place each year!


Click on the link above to watch a short radio/TV interview held with Mary McDonough in November 2013




Another great interview with Mary McDonough in November 2013




Great Radio interview with Judy Norton




Superb interview with Richard Thomas, dont miss it.





Short interview with Michael Learnerd





Superb and interesting TV interview with Kami Cotler





Great Waltons interview.





Watch The Waltons meeting The Waltons!!





Visit the Waltons Mountain Museum





The Waltons Legacy.





great TV interview with the cast





Tribute to Kami Cotler





Tribute to Joe Conley





Click on the link to watch the Waltons brought back together in late 2013




Click on the link to watch a short photo shoot outside the set in late 2013


Waltons Friendship Societ




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 2017!!

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.


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.

 Well done to our member from Kent here in the UK for being drawn out as the prize winner.


Competition No3:- Congratulations to Jane from Stroud in the Uk who is our latest prize winner and recieves a beautiful signed colour photo of Judy Norton who played Mary Ellen in the series.


Competition No4:- This was drawn in August 2015 and congratulations got to Victoria from Coventry who the signed photo of series creator Earl hamner!


Competition No5:- Congratulations go to our December 2015 competition winner who is Sheila from Cambridge who has won the superb colour action photo of Erin and Mary Ellen which has ben signed by Judy Norton, its a superb prize, well done.


Competition No6:- Congratulations go to our March 2016 competition winner who is David from Devon in the UK who has won a superb signed photo of series creator Earl Hamner.


Competition No7:- Congratulations to our August 2016 competition winner who is Alison from Essex in the UK who has won a great copy of the book on the Walton's by Earl Hamner.


Competition No8:- Congratulations to Kate from East Sussex who has won the December 2016 prize draw competition and wins a superb colour signed photo of Judy Norton who played Mary Ellen in the series.


Competition No9:- This will be drawn in March 2017 and the winner will recieve a superb colour signed photo from Jon Walmsley. To be included in this draw simply ensure your a society member by th start of March 2017, Good Luck!.



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