‘The Waltons’: Michael McGreevey Discusses the Inspiration for Hobie Shanks Character

by Jennifer Shea

On The Waltons, Hobie Shanks was a grown-up former foster child from the County Boys Home. He had stayed with the Waltons for a period of time in his youth. When he returns for a visit to the mountain so he can pitch in front of a baseball scout, John Boy (Richard Thomas) is put off by Hobie’s sensational claims, but it seems like he’s the only one who’s skeptical.

Michael McGreevey, the son of one writer on The Waltons, played Hobie Shanks. And in a recent episode of Judy Norton’s YouTube show, Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton, McGreevey opened up about the inspiration for the role itself and for his portrayal of Hobie on The Waltons.

“I think the writer [of this episode], Richard Fielder, probably modeled Hobie Shanks after a famous baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals in the Depression era named Dizzy Dean,” McGreevey said. “Dizzy was a great pitcher, but he was also a bit of a braggart.”

“The other thing is I had a close friend who was a bit of a braggart,” he went on. “And I think I incorporated quite a bit of my friend into the character. Because I knew the other side of my friend, that he was probably insecure, and really not that sure about himself. And that’s why he was such a braggart.”

Watch McGreevey talk about Hobie Shanks here:

After The Waltons, Michael McGreevey Had a Successful Career

Besides the cast of The Waltons, McGreevey also acted alongside some of the major stars of the 1980s, from Kirk Douglas to Sally Field to David Niven to Patty Duke. He appeared in movies such as The Impossible Years, Death of a Gunfighter, If Tomorrow Comes, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and The Strongest Man in the World, among others. And he got his start writing for television alongside his father, the Emmy Award-winning writer John McGreevey, according to IMDb.

From that launchpad, McGreevey began writing for shows including The Waltons, Palmerstown, USA and others. He went on to write and produce the NBC series Fame. And he wrote the television movie Bonanza: The Return. Not long after that, he got into directing, working on several children’s series, among them The Jungle Book: Search for the Lost Treasure.

More recently, McGreevey has been working on an original screenplay, 13 Weeks, a romantic comedy set in the world he knows best, series television. He’s also reportedly working on three documentaries: Aging Without Symptoms, Welcome to Eden and The Face of America.

But to generations of The Waltons viewers, McGreevey will always be Hobie Shanks. Fortunately, like other veterans of the show, the actor, writer, producer and director seems to enjoy looking back on his time on the mountain.