‘The Waltons’: How Did Show’s Creator Earl Hamner Jr. Die?

by Courtney Blackann
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From the early age of 6, “The Waltons” creator Earl Hamner Jr. had a knack for writing. He published a poem about puppies in a red wagon in his local Virginia paper and the rest was history.

The famous writer died at the age of 92 in a hospital in Los Angeles in 2016. He battled cancer before passing, his family shared at the time. “The Waltons” creator didn’t leave this earth with nothing, however. He has a legacy which will linger for years, as those who love and were inspired by him remember his contributions.

In a statement released by his family members, they remembered “The Waltons” creator fondly.

“I am very sorry to be the bearer of sad news. My father, Earl Hamner, passed away today at 12:20 PM Pacific time. Dad died peacefully in his sleep at Cedar Sinai Hospital. He was surrounded by family, and we were playing his favorite music, John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Collection. Dad took his last breath half way through Rocky Mountain High. I am sure many of you know Dad was ill, but his amazing tenacity and fight masked how seriously ill he has been over the last year and a half,” the post reads, via The Hollywood Reporter.

Hamner’s “Homecoming”

Hamner notably created “The Waltons” for CBS which spurred spinoff films in its aftermath. He was also known for his grittier “Falcon Crest,” which lasted nine seasons on CBS. An affinity for writing, Hamner drew inspiration from his upbringing. As one of eight, he remembers his father’s dedication and hard work. His father’s six mile walk home from work one snowy Christmas Eve in 1933 even inspired his novella “The Homecoming.”

This was the inspiration for a 1971 Lorimar Christmas special – which would ultimately serve as the pilot for “The Waltons.” The beloved family drama is perhaps what Hamner is known best for.

“The Waltons” Legacy

Set in a fictional Virginia town, it ran for nine seasons and reflected a time in history beginning with the Great Depression until World War II. Hamner’s voice could be heard throughout each episode, as he narrated the thoughts of the Walton’s oldest son looking back.

“I became the narrator in an odd way,” once said in a 2000 interview with Filmfax Magazine. “When we were producing The Homecoming, we auditioned just about every professional narrator in town. Finally, Fielder Cook, the director, said, ‘We need somebody who sounds as homespun as Earl.’ He thrust a microphone in front of my face and told me to read the copy. It was a particularly moving segment about my feelings for my family, and I felt very deeply about what I was reading. When I looked over at Fielder, I could see that he was moved and that I had the job!”

“The Waltons” went on to receive numerous ratings and awards. It received 39 Emmy nominations, with 13 wins.

Further, Hamner authored many novels. He also wrote a number of episodes of the popular “The Twilight Zone” as well.

Walton is still survived by his wife Jane, as well as children Scott and Caroline.

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