‘The Waltons’: Why Richard Thomas Feels Like He Experiences ‘Homecomings’ Decades On

by Keeli Parkey

The year after “The Waltons” creator and writer, Earl Hamner, Jr., passed away, the cast of the beloved family drama visited his hometown. That hometown is Schuyler, Virginia. That place and its people inspired Hamner to write “Spencer’s Mountain,” which was the book that was the basis of “The Waltons” television series.

So, in some ways, you could call the cast members’ visit to Schuyler a “homecoming” of sorts. One of those cast members, Richard Thomas, talked about homecomings during an interview with Blue Ridge Life during October 2017. Thomas played John Boy Walton in the series. John Boy was the character who was most closely based on Earl Hamner, Jr.

During that interview, Thomas was asked if paying a visit to Hamner’s hometown was a homecoming? In short, he answered with both a yes and a no.

“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?,” “The Waltons” star said during the interview.

Richard Thomas Also Explained Why He Had Missed Reunions of ‘The Waltons’ Cast

Richard Thomas then talked about how returning to Hamner’s hometown didn’t necessarily feel like a homecoming. To him, the location didn’t feel like home. What felt like home to Thomas was being with the other members of “The Waltons” cast.

“But I haven’t really, you know, I was in Schuyler (Virginia) once, many, many, many, many years ago. So, this is like, uh, kind of a first time for me. This is my first time going to the museum,” Thomas also said.

The now 70-year-old actor also offered an explanation as to why he had not attended previous reunions of “The Waltons” cast. “You know, my timing has been terrible. So, I haven’t been able to make it for any of the other reunions,” Thomas explained.

The actor then further elaborated on his feelings about homecomings. “While it’s a homecoming in a sense that it feels like, you know, I’m going to be connected to the show again, it’s actually sort of a first time thing for me,” Richard Thomas said of visiting Schuyler, Virginia.

Earl Hamner, Jr., passed away from cancer in 2016. He was 92 years old at the time of his death. During that same 2017 interview, Thomas also praised the beloved writer and creator of “The Waltons.”

“But, you know, he was a wonderful writer. And he was a terrific man with a great sense of humor and a very generous spirit and, you know, a gentleman. I would say a Southern gentleman,” Thomas said of Hamner.

“The Waltons” originally aired from 1972 until 1981.