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Indeed, The Waltons never even considered recasting the elderly couple when each fell on hard times with their health. They became an inseparable unit on screen.

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Anyone who grew up in the s knows how special it was to see a character like Grandma Walton on TV. Though stern and stubborn sometimes, her generous nature always won out. She was the grandma every '70s kid wished they had. For seven lucky children, that wish was a reality — in a way.

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Forgot password? Register for free. Broadcast weekly on television, viewers were treated to stories that were as wholesome as apple pie. The family at the center of the show were God-fearing, good ol' folks.

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All American Southern Baptists, who disdained hard liquor and epitomized family values. The same couldn't be said about the actors who played them. And I'm not just talking about the fact that Jason was British!

I grew up watching The Waltons. First broadcast the year before I was born, it was subject to many repeats. It represented precisely the sort of values that my parents would have me learn. Child friendly tales clustered around a loving extended family. Hospitable, generous, never breaking the law, always there to aid their fellows and to help build a strong community.

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I used to dream of visiting Walton's Mountain, even after I realized that it was fictitious. These were the kind of heart-warming tales, where every ripple was resolved with home sprung values, love and a quiet determination.

Each of the Waltons wears a face, which speaks to me of wholesome goodness. But the reality can be much more jaded, and a lot more interesting.

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Set on a Depression Christmas Eve inthis heart-tugging story centers around the Waltons. View on Amazon. Stories of a family's - and a nation's - yesteryear continue in six reunion movies. When Ellen Corby died inthe chief mourner at her funeral was Stella Luchetta. However, it was an open secret in Hollywood that Stella was much more than that. The couple had been in a committed relationship for forty-five years by then. Ellen Corby had once been married.

She was born Ellen Hansen, and tied the knot with film director Francis Corby in It was largely for the sake of her reputation. Fans and studio executives would not have embraced a lesbian in the s, as they might do today.

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The marriage lasted just ten years and didn't produce any children. She met Stella in and they stayed together until the end. In the show, Grandma Walton was a fussy, God-fearing woman, prone to abstinence of all suspected vices.

She didn't even approve of dancing, as it might lead to temptation.

The tales from walton's mountain invoke an age of innocence; though naturally we're talking about the fictional family, not the actors who played them!

She also famously stated that, "If the good Lord had intended us to smoke He would have put a chimney in our he! In reality, she chain-smoked.

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Ellen probably said that line, waited for the director to shout 'cut', then promptly lit up. Earl Hamner - the writer behind The Waltons and the real world prototype for John Boy - revealed later that he frequently entered into arguments with Ellen Corby about the prominence of Grandma Walton. Ellen would take scenes and rewrite them to give herself twice as many lines. When Earl dismissed them in favor of the originals, Ellen would unleash a barrage of abuse, littered with expletives.

William Mann's Behind the Screen is a thoughtful and eye- opening look at the totality of the gay experience in studio-era Hollywood. Much has been written about how gays have b Grandpa Walton was so unflappable and mischievous, that I like to think he wouldn't have been at all shocked by the life of the actor who played him.

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This is Harry Hay, considered by many to be the father of it all. Yet go back toto the very beginning of this civil rights story, and look beyond Mr Hay to his boyfriend. Will Geer was more than merely Hay's ificant other back then.

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That famous early gay activist credited Will with introducing him to activism! He campaigned on behalf of striking workers, taking Harry Hay along with him.

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Inthe couple were on stage, entertaining trade unionists during the 83 day West Coast strike in San Francisco, when police began openly firing upon the crowd. Just like Ellen Corby, Will had been advised by his agent to enter into a 'New York marriage' with a lesbian, to conceal his homosexuality. Will ignored it. However, he also discovered that the Communist Party disapproved of same-sex relationships. This was a different matter entirely. Geer approached Herta Ware, his female corby in Let Freedom Ringwith the request that she become his wife.

In the full knowledge of his true inclinations - and the presence of his boyfriend Harry - she agreed. They remained ellen and wife for the next twenty years, until their divorce in They had three children, including actress Ellen Geer. Another important activist befriended and mentored by Will Geer was folk singer Woody Guthrie.

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Throughout the s, Geer was frequently on stage with Guthrie, and fellow performer Burl Ives, and appeared on many of the former's records. Will Geer's open social activism, and membership in the Communist Party, naturally came to hinder his acting career during the McCarthy Witch Trials. During the s, Senator Joseph McCarthy spearheaded a national campaign, which sought to highlight the 'Red Scare' and expel all Communist sympathizers from positions of influence in the USA.

Many Hollywood careers were ruined, when that focus shifted to the silver screen. Legends such as Charlie Chaplin were chased from America, often with the scantiest bit of dodgy evidence, or merely rumor, as testimony against them. People like Will Geer had no chance, particularly when a sub-plot of McCarthyism was to equally oust known homosexuals.

Therefore he was black-listed and no film studio would hire him accordingly.

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It took until the s for this hysteria to blow over. Then Will was back on our screens, cast in old age as Grandpa Walton. As the father, John Walton was a moral stalwart of the show. He might sneak an occasional wee dram of the recipe, but he largely deferred to wife Olivia's stance on the evils of hard liquor.

Ralph began drinking in tragic circumstances in His nine year old daughter died of leukemia.

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Drunkenness numbed the mourning pain, which never quite seemed to go away. So Ralph carried on drinking. Part of this was also Ralph's sudden loss of faith in God. He couldn't reconcile his daughter's death with a loving Lord. For most, this would have been a spiritual crisis to be worked out all in good time.

For Ralph, it was his job. He was a practicing Presbyterian minister, who stepped down from the pulpit and became a full-time actor.

His marriage failed two years later. By the time he was cast in The WaltonsRalph thought nothing of having three Martinis with his lunch.

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It was so much part of his life, that he didn't even consider himself to have a problem; plus it got him through the afternoon's filming. However, Ralph looked at those scripts as a wake up call. In some ways, this was The Waltons at its best, playing out just like an on-screen story.

Ralph Waite compared himself to John Walton, and decided that he wanted to be more like his screen persona. After a year of playing the role, he began to seriously address his alcoholism, finally becoming sober around season two. For nine seasons, America was transfixed with this Depression-era family's struggles to survive. This second-season collection focu They built their home on the timeless mountain that bears their name.

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They built their lives on even stronger stuff: the bedrock of family. This 5-disc set features all 25 Seaso It's Hitler and Mussolini threaten the world, King Edward gives up the English throne for love, Gangbusters is on the radio, a movie crew hires John-Boy as a scriptwriter, In his later years, Ralph Waite entered politics. During the s, he ran for Congress three times, on a Democrat ticket with distinctly left-wing views.

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It's intriguing to wonder how far the influence of Will Geer played out here.