‘The Waltons’ Star Michael Learned Reveals If She Was Ever Romantically Involved With Ralph Waite

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

When it comes to classic TV, one of the shows that ranks right up there is The Waltons with stars Michael Learned and Ralph Waite. Seeing these actors play Olivia and John Walton on the show brought viewers back week after week. Over the years, we have come to learn that they were good friends. But were there any serious romantic moments between them at all? Learned offered up an answer to the question.

“I loved him very much,” Learned said in 2019. “And we loved each other as much as anybody could love anybody. We never slept together. But our love was so deep and spiritual. And you know, Ralph would put me in my place when he thought (I) was being an a–hole. He didn’t make any bones about telling me to shape up. And it was the same with me.

‘The Waltons’ Star Michael Learned Could Not Bear Having A Disagreement With Ralph Waite

“But I just couldn’t bear it whenever we had a disagreement,” she said. “If we weren’t getting along, I couldn’t stand it. I remember once we had a spat about some stupid thing. I just had to go knock on his dressing room door. I was crying. Just in tears. I told him, ‘We have to make up because I can’t shoot this scene if we’re still mad at each other.’ And of course, he would just open his arms up and hug me. We were truly family, with all the ups and downs that come with it, except there was no prior baggage.”

While there was no off-screen romance going down, that didn’t mean that Waite wasn’t up to some hijinx. There were moments when Waite would drop his pants and make a bit of a scene. Just for Learned and the other cast members, though. “Ralph and Will Geer [‘The Grandfather’] loved exposing their butts,” Learned said. “I would run screaming into the night,” she chuckled, Fox News reports.

Back 50 years ago, The Waltons made their TV premiere on CBS in 1972. Now, surviving cast members are gathering together at The Hollywood Museum on Thursday. They will meet with fans and offer their help in showcasing an exhibition celebrating the show’s legacy. Waite died in 2014 at 85 years old.

The show made its debut on CBS against two pretty high-powered shows at the time with NBC’s The Flip Wilson Show and ABC’s The Mod Squad. When season 2 rolled around, The Waltons remained on the air while those two other shows ended. A nine-season run along with six made-for-TV movies are part of the show’s history. Still, Learned decided to leave the show in 1979, two years before the show ended.