‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Praises Series for Its ‘Goodwill Feeling’

by Samantha Whidden

Nearly 50 years after the premiere of the classic TV series “The Waltons,” Richard Thomas, who played John “John-Boy” Walton Jr., opened up about how the show had a “goodwill feeling.”

While speaking to Closer Weekly, “The Waltons” star says that while it’s been decades since he played his character, he still hears “Good night, John-Boy” while out and about. “It will be ‘John-Boy Dies’ in the news when I’m gone,” Thomas said. “And that’s fine with me.”

Judy Norton, who plays Thomas’ sister on “The Walton,” also recalled Thomas and John Ritter, who played Rev. Matthew Fordwick, were labeled infamous practical jokers. “They were always trying to get one-up on the other and crack each other up,” Norton shared. 

Thomas then said that “The Waltons” continues to resonate even after nearly five decades. “Many fans come up and say, ‘Hey, it’s you, I grew up with you,’ as if I were a childhood friend. It was a show that was so warm and so full of humanity. People supporting each other, going to bat for each other. There’s always a goodwill feeling, which makes me really happy.” 

Michael Learned went on to add that she thought of her “The Waltons” castmates as a family even after all this time. “Whenever we are together, there’s a lot of joy, laughter, and warmth.”

Richard Thomas Previously Spoke About ‘The Waltons: A Christmas Story’ Being Remade 

In November 2021, Richard Thomas spoke to PEOPLE about “The Waltons: A Christmas Story” being remade. “You have a sense of ownership, so when they call you and say, ‘Well, we’re doing a new one. It’s all new people,’ your first reaction is, ‘Oh, no. Time to pass it on. Too bad.’”

However, Thomas then said that after a while he realized it was better to be proud and happy that the special is considered a classic. “I think it’s wonderful that somebody else is going to have a chance to make that part their own.”

Along with discussing the Christmas special, “The Waltons” star spoke about his future acting career plans. “One of the beautiful things about acting is if you’re lucky enough to be able to keep working your whole life, there are roles that will sustain you from childhood right up until ancient supporting character man. Especially in the theater, there are great roles in all those categories.”

Thomas then said that he’s just “chugging” along. “There’s always just one more thing to do and I love it so much. When your work is also your pleasure, it’s hard to think about retiring.”

Thomas starred in “The Waltons” for the first five seasons before becoming a guest star for seasons six and seven. He also appeared in three movie sequels. Robert Wightman replaced Thomas for the show’s final seasons and one film. His character was the eldest of seven children.