In the famous “The Wing Walker” episode of “The Waltons,” viewers watched as character Bobby Strom performed death-defying stunts on the wing of an airplane.
Actress Lee Purcell, who played Bobby Strom, was the titular wing walker in this episode. And, while fans of the popular family drama have often believed it was Purcell flying through the air on that old plane, that wasn’t actually the case.
Purcell shared details about the stunt and filming this episode with Judy Norton. Fans of “The Waltons” know Norton as Mary Ellen Walton. Recently, Norton has been sharing behind-the-scenes details about filming the show via her YouTube channel. Purcell joined Norton to talk about the show in an April 15 video.
During her appearance, Purcell shares some pretty shocking details about her episode of “The Waltons.”
Lee Purcell Shares Details About Filming Her Episode of ‘The Waltons’
“This is a behind-the-scenes look at my episode of ‘The Waltons,’ ‘The Wing Walker,'” Lee Purcell said. “I’m now going to tell you a secret. Don’t tell anybody.”
“You know how you see Bobby Strom and she’s walking on the wing of the airplane; it’s really far away. Well, many people have said to me, ‘Oh, you were so brave to have done that.’ And, so now, I’m going to burst a few bubbles. It wasn’t me,” Purcell continued.
In fact, the person on the wing of that airplane for the shots of the plane in the air was someone who knew how to perform such a feat safely.
“Not at a distance, wasn’t me,” Purcell added. “It was a professional stunt person doing that at a great distance.”
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “OK, but I clearly saw Lee Purcell as Bobby Strom on the wing of that red airplane.”
Well, to get close-up shots of Purcell, the crew of “The Waltons” used some of their Hollywood magic.
“Now, when you saw Bobby Strom, closer, say head to toe, waist to head, or even a closeup that was me,” Purcell shared. “However, the plane was on the ground. Now they have these huge wind machines that were just pushing at me.”
“I was on the plane. I was in the cockpit with Tom (Bower, who played pilot Rex Barker in the episode), climbing all over the plane and standing up on the wing,” Purcell said. “And, then, for the grand finale, with the two flags where’s she doing the very dangerous stunt, I was on the top – on the top wing – doing that, but the plane was on the ground.”
The Actress Was Still ‘Concerned’ About Climbing On the Plane
While climbing on a plane that’s sitting on the ground is certainly safer than climbing on one that is flying through the air, “The Waltons” guest star said she still worried while filming that scene.
“And, what I was concerned about was that the wind machines, which were very powerful, would push me off the plane and I would end up on the ground, which was pretty far down because the top of the plane, it’s pretty far,” Purcell said. “I don’t know, 15, 20 feet.”
Her training as a dancer helped Purcell climb on the airplane for those shots.
“I was very, very careful,” she said. “But, I was a dancer, so I was really agile and I could climb. And I could do those kinds of things, but only on the ground.”
You can watch Lee Purcell and Judy Norton talk about “The Wing Walker” episode of “The Waltons” below.