‘The Waltons’: Creator Earl Hamner Revealed Process of Becoming Show’s Narrator in 2003 Interview

by Joe Rutland

Television shows often have voice-over actors who will describe scenes or events. “The Waltons” had a very special narrator for each episode.

That voice you hear talking about different events on Walton’s Mountain or relationships in the family belongs to show creator Earl Hamner.

How did he become the narrator for “The Waltons”? Hamner, in an interview with the Archive of American Television, talked about the process. The interview took place in 2003 before Hamner died on March 24, 2016, at 92 years old.

“When we got back from shooting in the Grand Tetons, we started looking for a narrator,” Hamner said. “And we auditioned everybody in town who does that kind of work professionally and they were all too professional.”

‘The Waltons’ Producer Turned His Eyes Toward Hamner For Role

That prompted show producer Peter Cook to say, “What we need is someone who sounds as homespun and corny as Earl,” Hamner said.

“So he (Cook) said, ‘Read this paragraph,'” Hamner said. “I read a paragraph from the end, which it was something like my father’s been dead now but my mother still lived alone in the same house. But we were still a close family and saw each other when we could and when we did, it’s a wonderful thing.'”

After he finished reading that piece of the script, Hamner looked over and saw tears coming down Cook’s face.

“He said, ‘You son of a b—h, you made me cry,'” Hamner said. “And he said, ‘You got the job.'”

Hamner added that had to go join the Screen Actors Guild and got paid.

Let’s let Hamner tell the full story about becoming “The Waltons” narrator in this interview.

Earl Hamner Not First Show Executive To Also Provide Narration

Hamner’s voice is very calm, soothing, and fits right into the Appalachia feel of “The Waltons” TV show.

What’s interesting, too, is that Earl Hamner was not the first TV show executive to also provide narration for his show.

William Dozier, who was executive producer of both “Batman” and “The Green Hornet” for ABC, provided voice-over work on both shows. They were under his Greenway Productions umbrella.

“Batman” fans are quite familiar with Dozier’s voice. You hear him when dialogue like “Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder await The Riddler’s next move.” Dozier also can be heard saying the famous catch-phrase, “Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel.”

“The Waltons,” obviously, is not 1960s campy superhero TV. But Hamner and Dozier do have a similarity in common with their narrator roles.