‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Reveals His Retirement Plans: ‘It’s Hard to Think About’

by Joe Rutland

Richard Thomas has been a part of TV viewers’ lives since The Waltons. But does the actor give retirement some thought?

Thomas, who played John-Boy Walton on the CBS family drama, talks about it with People Magazine.

“One of the beautiful things about acting is if you’re lucky enough to be able to keep working your whole life,” he said, “there are roles that will sustain you from childhood right up until ancient supporting character man.”

Thomas has been an active member of the theater community for decades.

“Especially in the theater, there are great roles in all those categories,” he said. “So as I keep chugging along, there’s always just one more thing to do, and I love it so much. When your work is also your pleasure, it’s hard to think about retiring.”

The actor is in a sense going home again. Thomas fills the narrator role once held by The Waltons‘ creator Earl Hamner Jr. when The Waltons’ Homecoming TV movie appears on The CW on Sunday.

This movie is a remake of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story that starred Patricia Neal, Andrew Duggan, and Edgar Bergen. Yes, Thomas was a part of this 1971 movie and he did play John-Boy for the first time. Also, all six teenage-children roles for The Waltons TV show were filled by the same actors in them on TV.

‘The Waltons’ Star Discussed Need To Be Connected With Show’s Phenomenon

Back in 2017, Thomas attended an event in Schuyler, Va., honoring Hamner. It was in the show creator’s hometown.

The Waltons star, before going to visit Schuyler, talked about the CBS drama and Hamner with Blue Ridge Life Magazine Publisher Tommy Stafford.

Stafford, during the interview, asked Thomas how he felt about traveling to Schuyler and paying tribute to Hamner.

Thomas said the “debt to Earl is ongoing.

“Because the success of a popular television show, you know, outlives its airtime,” Thomas said. “It goes on and on and it continues to.”

Novel ‘Spencer’s Mountain’ From Hamner in 1961 Formed Structure For TV Dama

There was another reason that Thomas was going to Schuyler.

He said that it’s “really not so much about keeping his legacy going as it is just remaining – staying connected to – the whole phenomenon that was The Waltons.

“And that includes Earl, obviously, most importantly,” Thomas said. “And whatever his legacy may be in terms of, you know, remembering him as the man who made that happen.”

Hamner actually wrote a novel called Spencer’s Mountain in 1961. It became a movie in 1963 starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.

What Hamner did was take the basic construction of his novel and use that to present The Waltons. He shifted the scenery from Wyoming to his own life in Schuyler and the Appalachian Mountains.