‘Happy Days’: Joanie Actress Erin Moran Made a Guest-Appearance on ‘The Waltons’ as a Teenager

by Suzanne Halliburton

Fans of Happy Days, did you know little Joanie Cunningham had a terrific singing voice? She showed it off in an episode of The Waltons.

Erin Moran guest-starred as Sally Ann Harper in an episode called “The Song” back in February, 1975. By then, Moran was 13 months into playing Richie’s kid sister on Happy Days.

In the episode of The Waltons, which was directed by Richard Thomas, Moran played a potential love interest for two brothers, Ben and Jason. The Waltons always started with a narrated prologue. Here’s how this episode began:

“We were a close family growing up on that mountain, but as we grew older and were faced with the problems of finding maturity, conflict sometimes developed between us. I remember a time when my brother Jason’s pursuit of fame as a musician, and my brother Ben’s pursuit of a young lady brought them into a bitter misunderstanding.”

On The Waltons, Jason showed off his musical talents. Jon Walmsley, who played Jason, was a professional musician after the show ended, so what he did on the show was authentic. Jason wrote a song and asked Bobby Bigelow if he could sing it at a radio broadcast of a barn dance. Ben suggested that Sally Ann should sing with Jason at the dance. And Ben suggested it because he was sweet on his schoolmate.

Erin Moran Finally Picked One of the Brothers on ‘The Waltons’

But Sally Ann was smitten with Jason. The two kissed when they were supposed to be rehearsing. Rather than attend the barn dance with the rest of the Waltons family, Ben stayed home. However, he listened to the radio broadcast and heard when Sally Ann dedicated the love song to him.

The Waltons ended on a high note. Ben’s crush Sally Ann liked him. The brothers no longer were fighting.

The closing epilogue, before all the Waltons said good night to each other:

“Ben walked home with Sally Ann. And Jason walked home with Betsy. They both got back to the house around midnight, singing.”

Fans of Erin Moran know that she was an established child star when she was cast in Happy Days. But she never established herself as an adult actor. After Happy Days, she continued her character in Joanie Loves Chachi. She earned a variety of guest-starring roles post Happy Days, but nothing on a consistent basis.

She died in 2017 at the age of 56. Moran was found unresponsive at her home. An autopsy showed she had advanced throat cancer.

But enjoy Erin Moran’s talents from this episode of The Waltons.