‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Opened Up About Visiting With Former War POWs

by Chase Thomas

There are not many shows that filled a cast with as much talent as “The Waltons” did back in the day. For over nine seasons the show presented an electric cast of characters. So many folks around the country fell in love with. One of those was Richard Thomas who played John-Boy on the program for many years. In an earlier interview, “The Waltons” star Richard Thomas opened up about visiting with former war POWs.

In the interview with CBS Chicago, it was revealed that Thomas told the interviewer that he spoke with POWs at the time. They, too, called out to one another by name before going to sleep to check in on one another. This was what the family in the show did each evening. Thomas revealed it inspired those brave POWs to do the same.

Thomas talked about how complicated the country was at the time of filming the program. He said, “There was always healing and the idea that we were all in it together.” The show was about bringing folks together and celebrating the positive values and the importance of family.

Richard Thomas on ‘The Waltons’

Thomas was an early star on the show. However, it was not something he jumped at originally. He was more drawn to movies. Doing a series for “The Waltons” was a completely different deal.

He told KSite TV, “Not at first, obviously. I mean, The Homecoming was offered to me, was already happening, Pat was cast, and it was going forward. It was offered to me because Earl Hamner had seen me in a movie called Red Sky at Morning. He said that he had wanted me to play John-Boy, so there may or may not have even some influence as he was working on it, but I doubt it.”

He got the role because of his work. So, it was not a guarantee he would sign for a television series. However, Earl Hamner saw something in him.

The Development of The Show

He continued, “As for the series, I was reluctant to go to series because I was making movies at the time. I loved doing Homecoming. But they sent me four scripts and they were so, so beautiful, and the characters were also beautiful, but they were fully formed. But as we did the show, and as we came together every week to read the scripts, before we began filming them, as each of us had suggestions or notes or ideas, Earl was always so incredibly receptive to that and incorporated so many of our ideas and suggestions, and he didn’t when he didn’t think that we’re right, of course.”

Richard Thomas fell in love with the scripts. He was a great fit for the character. It all worked for him and Hamner. What helped was the open lines of communication. That both sides could pitch what they thought was best.

He concluded, “But that I think over time, everybody was writing the characters, but they were also writing for us, which happens in a series.”

You can watch “The Waltons: Homecoming” on the CW.