Will Geer, Ellen Corby, and Ralph Waite & The Waltons
June 3, 1911 - April 14, 1999
"Go Fish today and Poker tomorrah! The evils of gambling can put down
roots in shallow ground!"
March 9, 1902 - April 22, 1978
"You can't own a mountain any more than you can own an ocean or a
piece of the sky. You hold it in trust. You live on it, you take like from it,
and once you're dead, you rest in it."
Okay, I am setting myself up ridicule now, but I have to admit that I
Waltons. The show has an uncanny ability to make me well up, every single time I
watch. I'm afraid that this story is very much about me, so please accept my apology for
the self-indulgence. The Waltons was a regular television series from 1972 to 1981, and
they've had about a thousand reunion shows since then.
Will Geer played Grandpa Walton. He was living in a small bungalow in Hollywood on
His home was in an
unusual place called the "Little
at number 1334.
Here's the house.
While the show
was on hiatus, Will had suffered a stroke, and three weeks later, on April 22nd of 1978, Will "checked out," at
Midway Hospital, on San
Vicente, in LA.
He was 76 years old, was a confirmed bi-sexual, and was
also married twice. Not that this has
anything to do with being gay, but he took to mooning the cast on many
occasions. Did you know that his daughter Ellen was "Sunshine Doray"
in Harold and Maude? True.
They wrote his death into the next season of the show, and it was a gut wrencher. Mr.
Geer was cremated, and his ashes are in the Will Geer Theatricam Botanicum (Whatevericum) in Topanga
On the show, they buried him on the mountain.
Update, Nov 99 - Thanks to Findadeath friend Melanie
Young for the following info on the Theatricam. "While Will Geer did
go in to acting, he did finish college and also received a masters degree in
Botany from Columbia University. During the McCarthy blacklisting era, he
refused to testify before a congressional committee and was therefore
blacklisted as well. He ended up supporting his family via gardening and
They have an amphitheater where they perform
Shakespearian plays and he planted a formal Shakespearian garden there, and many
of those plants are plants that are mentioned in various Shakespeare
THAT'S why Will is planted in the garden. Thanks
for the info, Melanie.
Since 1976, Ellen Corby lived in the home of her friend Stella
Luchetta, on Harratt Street, in LA.
Their house was at 9026.
She also had a passion for lady bugs. This next story will haunt me till my death. A few years back, I was
visiting LA, and paid a visit to Ms. Corby. I bought a huge bouquet of flowers and went to
the front door. I knew where she lived, because she answered a fan letter that I sent her
in the past. I got to the front door, and Mrs. Luchetta answered. Very suspiciously, I
might add, but who could blame her? Anyway, through the peephole she asked what I wanted,
and I told her I was an Ellen Corby fan, and wanted to give her flowers. After a few
minutes of trying to convince her that I wasn't psychotic, she took the flowers, and told
me to come back tomorrow, and I could meet Ellen. Cool. Grandma Walton
in the flesh! Well, stupid me, I was heading back East the next day, and since I didn't
know the cemeteries at ALL, a friend offered to show me around, so,
I blew off Ellen. I KNOW! It was the worst thing I could do, but I
wanted to go grave hunting SO bad. Anyway, upon my arrival home, I wrote off a note of
apology to Ms. Corby, and this was
the response I received from Mrs. Luchetta.
Feel guilty much? Gawd. Enough
about that, here are the Ellen facts.
Ellen had a stroke in 1976, and it was written into the show. When the show
ceased production, Ellen spent her time watching The Waltons reruns, and
logging them diligently in a book. She waited around, and inevitably, they would wheel her
in for reunion specials. It was great to see her, because it never could be
the same without her, but she was reduced to cameos, and mumbling a few mono syllabic
A few weeks before she died, Ellen was moved into
the Motion Picture Country Home, in Calabasis, CA.
According to new Findadeath friend and Walton fan
Jason, on her last day, Stella bought Ellen a Cobb salad from Mirabelle's on
Sunset. It was her favorite restaurant. Ellen at about 3/4 of it,
and decided to rest, so she sent Stella on her way. Her last words to Stella were, "Love you." Ellen died later that evening, April 18th, 1999. She was 87.
was cremated, and is interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn
Glendale. There was no funeral, but a small memorial service attended by
Michael Learned, Lynn Hamilton (Verdie on the show), a few Walton's fans, and Earl Hamner. Earl wrote Ellen a Walton's scene,
special for the occasion, and sealed it in her niche. I thought that was a
very sweet gesture.
Tom and Carla
Murrell, grave hunters extraordinaire, donated this shot of her grave.
I hope they are happy, wherever they are.
June 22, 1928 - February 13, 2014
"It's always nice to take on the impossible now and then."
Walton in 196 episodes of the television show The Waltons (1971 - 1981). He
also directed quite a few episodes. His character John Walton was voted
3rd in TV Guide's
Greatest TV Dads of All Time
was also in the movies Cool
also attended the Yale School of Divinity and was a minister for 3 years.
ran for congress twice, unsuccessfully. He attempted to take over the seat
vacated by Sonny Bono when he bashed in his head, but lost to (Ugh) Sonny's
widow. By most accounts, a monster.
struggled with being a dipsomaniac. A friend said, "He was still
boozing heavily when he took the job just for the money, but he ended up loving
the role. He knew there was no way he could do the show while he was
drinking. It wasn't easy, but he managed to kick his addiction and get
the time of his death he was married to Linda East.
was living in this home Palm Desert
you Kim Eazell for the snaps!)
died in the Eisenhower Medical Center in Riverside.
taken from their website
Cause of death: Cardiac
Arrhythmia, Ischemic Cardiomyopathy, Coronary Artery Disease. He also had
prostate cancer and bladder cancer.
Certificate courtesy of Kevin Hassell
Ralph was cremated and sent
back east to Westchester County, NY.
He is buried with Sharon Waite,
his daughter who died of leukemia at the age of 9.
Ginny on the scene! My friend
"cousins" Ginny and Phil Michaels were on the scene.
see his mailbox?
NOW, onto the others. No deaths, but some embarrassing situations, fer
Judy Norton Taylor played Mary Ellen
Walton. She posed nude for
Playboy, in August of 1985.
I airbrushed out the bush, but lets just
say, she could have used a clip. I wrote her a fan letter, and she wrote me back
and signed an autograph - back when it was still fun to collect autographs, and
you didn't have to throw 30 bucks at someone..
I did meet Michael Learned
once. She was very sweet, but she had a yip yip dog named Paloma with her.
Super super sweet lady. I love her.
Richard "John Boy" Thomas still acts. I loved him in
IT. He comes
back to do the reunions now, even though he quit the show after five years. He recently
married again. He divorced the mother of his son, and triplet daughters.
Does anyone know
what happened to Robert Wightman, who replaced Thomas in the show? I can't come up with
anything, and someone told me he's dead. Anyone??
Nov 99 - Findadeath friend Glen Ivory let me know that Robert Wightman was in
the 1993 film Stepfather 3. He took over the role originated by Terry
O'Quinn in the first two installments of that series of fine cinematic
triumphs. Thanks for the info, Glen!
John Walmsley who portrayed Jason, played guitar with Richard Marx for awhile. Now he
writes music with his wife (who he married on the show, though I don't remember her name,
and I don't really care).
UPDATE December 2004, from Findadeath friend
John Walmsley, who portrayed Jason, was the
voice of Christopher Robin in the original "Winnie the Pooh" shorts,
that was strung together to become the movie, "The Many Adventures of
Winnie the Pooh." They needed a little English boy, Walmsley was
it. THought that this would be a cheery bit of trivia to share.
Jenn (Who should be working! =) )
Mary McDonough played Erin. She
shows up in more television than any of them, I think. She does occasional stints on
Entertainment Tonight, whenever they do anything on The Waltons. Following in the
footsteps of her television sister, she recently went topless in a film, One Of
These Nights. We're guessing it's a straight to video flick.
Ben was played by Eric Scott. He lost his wife, shortly after she gave birth to their
only child. Truly sad. He is now a vice president of a messenger service in LA.
Kami Cotler played Elizabeth. She teaches now.
According to a Findadeath friend, Ms. Cotler is married and living in Nelson County, Virginia, the county in which the town of Schuyler is located (along with the Walton's Museum, directly up the road from Earl Hamner's boyhood home). She teaches drama at Nelson County High School, and recently gave birth to her first child, a daughter, at a hospital in Charlottesville (she does not live there, however). Ms. Cotler attributes her choice to live in the county where Hamner grew up to her visits there when she was on the show. She and her husband live on a rural farm.
David Harper played Jim Bob. He was a scenic painter for awhile, and I hear he went
through some intense "Child Star" type of psychotherapy. Good on him. Don't need
any more Dana Plato's, do we?
Trivia: Did you know that Walton's Mountain is actually the mountain range just across
from Warner Bros. Studios? Here's
what it really looks like.
More Trivia: I took the Warner Bros. Tour a few years ago, and they were redoing the
Walton's house, for another film. Here's what it looked like.
Finally, here is my magnum opus.
cast photo of The Waltons, signed by them all ('cept for Mr. Geer, but I did
acquire his), including Earl Hamner.
This information was sent in by Findadeath.com
friend Glen Ivory: "Here is some more info on The Waltons. Before the show finished, Ralph Waite directed, wrote and acted in
On the Nickel, a movie about scummers living on skid row. Since the show ended his most prominent appearances have been in
The Bodyguard and Cliffhanger.
Mary Beth McDonough had the lead female role in a stalk 'n slash horror film called
Mortuary. I'm sure you like that title.
Also, an update on Michael Wightman - His most recent roles have been in the movies
Living in Oblivion, Box of Moonlight and Poodle Springs.
GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS from Findadeath.com friend
Randy Clayton. He has achieved one of my life ambitions, to make it to
Schuyler, VA to see the Walton's museum. Here is the real Walton/Hamner
house, where the author and his family grew up.
Here is the local
school, which houses the museum,
and here is the local
gift shop, where you can buy all the Walton presents you are going to send
June 2006 - This is John from MS. About three
years ago and friend and I took an impromptu road trip to Schuyler, VA, to the Walton's
museum. It was a 20 hour drive from MS but well worth it. The picture is me with
the original radio from the show.
If I remember correctly the museum guide
told us the set for the show burned years ago and and they are not many items
left. The radio, Erin's wedding dress and the Baldwin sisters still are in the
museum. If you have not been there it is a great museum. It is in the old school
the Hamner family attended. Only about 1/2 a mile from the Hamner home. One
of the brothers of Earl Hamner was on the porch and waved to us as we left. I would
love to go back one day and spend more time Thanks John, that is
That's it. I hope that I don't come off as boastful, I honestly don't mean to. It's
more like, "Isn't this stuff cool?!" I adored this show.
January 2015: The
most recent incarnation of the Walton home is on the Warner Ranch in Burbank.