‘The Waltons’ Star Will Geer Starred Alongside Robert Redford in This Classic Western

by Megan Molseed

Actor Will Geer joined the famous rural Virginia family in the mountains on the classic TV series The Waltons back in 1972. At around the same time, however, the popular actor was also joining the iconic Robert Redford on the silver screen in the American Western flick, Jeremiah Johnson.

Robert Redford and The Waltons Star Will Gear Tell The Story Of Legendary Mountain Man, Jeremiah Johnson In 1972 Film

A film set in the 1830s, Jeremiah Johnson is the story of a veteran of the Mexican-American War, named Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford). In this story, Robert Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson decides to head into the mountains to live a quiet life of isolation.

While there, Johnson meets Will Geer’s Chris Lapp…who is more commonly known as Bear Claw. Soon, Bear Claw, with all of his experience in the dangerous mountain wilderness, becomes a sort of mentor to Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson.

Will Geer Has Been Called A ‘Renaissance Man’ Bringing An ‘Inventive’ Piece To Grandpa Walton On The Hit Series

Will Geer portrays Zebulon Walton, also known as Grandpa Walton on the popular TV series, The Waltons. And, notes The Waltons creator, Earl Hamner, Geer was a “Renaissance man”. A star who put all of his talents into portraying the elder Walton al until his 1978 death.

“He was a ‘Renaissance man’” Earl Hamner says of the Waltons star.

“He was a historian of the theater,” the series creator continues of Will Geer.

“And of virtually all the performing arts,” Hamner adds of the actor.

Hamner notes that time on the set with Geer was always a joy…even if things could get a bit wild with him around. So, when the actor passed away a few years before the Waltons went off the air, the entire cast was crushed. In fact, a tribute was paid to Geer when the series returned that following season when the Waltons said goodbye to the Grandpa character as well.

“He was joyous, he was vigorous, and he was inventive,” Earl Hamner says of the actor. “I will miss him very much.”

Geer Leaves A Storytelling Legacy That Goes Beyond His Time On The Waltons

Will Geer passed away in the spring of 1978 after suffering respiratory failure. However, his legacy certainly has remained. In fact, the longtime actor once said that for him, storytelling was an important component of age. And, he loved when people, even his own costars looked at him as an oracle.

“You get a certain age and people look on you as an oracle,” Geer said in an interview during his time starring as Grandpa on The Waltons.

“If you live long enough, everything that could, will happen to you,” the actor said in the 1970s-era discussion. “Even a television series.”