‘The Waltons’: Richard Thomas Spoke on Importance of Being Connected to Show’s ‘Phenomenon’

by Keeli Parkey

A few years ago, “The Waltons” actor Richard Thomas attended an event honoring the show’s creator, Earl Hamner, Jr. The event was held in Hamner’s hometown of Schuyler, Virginia, in 2017.

Before his visit to the place that inspired the people and events of Waltons Mountain, Thomas talked about the show and its creator with Blue Ridge Life Magazine Publisher Tommy Stafford. During the interview, Stafford asked Thomas how he felt to be traveling to Schuyler to pay tribute to the late writer and series creator.

“Well, you know, the debt to Earl is ongoing. Um, because the success of a popular television show, you know, outlives its airtime. It goes on and on and it continues to,” the now 70-year-old John Boy Walton actor shared.

‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Said ‘It’s Very Nice to Meet the Fans’ of the Beloved Television Series

While paying tribute to Earl Hamner, Jr. was certainly one reason Thomas went to that small Virginia town in 2017, there was another. He also talked about this during the 2017 interview.

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

“The Waltons” star then reiterated how events such as the one in Schuyler, Virginia, in 2017 allowed him to continue to feel close to the beloved family drama. “But, for me personally, it’s a lot of things, you know. It’s primarily a way of staying connected to the show when the opportunity arises,” Thomas also explained.

Such events also gave Thomas an opportunity to meet people who have loved “The Waltons” for years.

“Also, it’s very nice to meet the fans, you know. When you work in the theater, the people who are watching are right out there in front. They get to applaud you and you get to bow to them. It’s nice. But when you do TV and movies, you don’t really have – it’s a different kind of connection than the people who watch (theater). So, it’s nice to go and meet folks. That’s part of the pleasure of it,” Thomas shared.

The actor also explained how the 2017 event was in some ways a “homecoming” for him. “Well, it is and it isn’t. I mean, you know, anytime I do anything that’s related to the show, it feels like a homecoming, whether it’s getting together with the cast members for something or if we do an autograph show. That kind of stuff, right?” he explained.

And, of course, Richard Thomas also expressed his appreciation for what Earl Hamner, Jr. did for his career and others. “But, um, you know, he obviously was the father of our show. And, consequently, the father of our success – all of us – in regards to that. So, there’s a huge debt of gratitude there,” Thomas said.