The Waltons was a huge part of television when it was on the air. The timing was just right for the story of a close-knit family living through the Great Depression and WWII to resonate with viewers. At the same time, the cast of the show contained some very talented actors. Some, like Michael Learned and Will Geer, already had long careers before joining the cast. However, others, like Richard Thomas, were just getting started.
That is not to say that The Waltons was Richard Thomas’ first time in front of a camera. In fact, it was far from it. Before he was John-Boy, Thomas had several credits under his belt. He had been in around 20 movies and television shows. However, his longest-running role before The Waltons was as Chris Austen on A Flame in the Wind, according to his IMDb. That only lasted a few episodes. He is still working today. In fact, he was on Blue Bloods in 2017 and currently has a few irons in the fire.
If you’ve seen some of Richard Thomas’ work from before The Waltons, you’ll notice an interesting pairing. Sian Barbara Allen played his girlfriend Jenny in a few episodes of the show. However, they had worked together before.
Judy Norton talked about their previous on-screen pairing in an episode of her web series in which she takes fans behind the scenes of The Waltons. In an episode from February, Norton breaks down Sian Allen’s first appearance in the episode, “The Love Story,” as well as her ties to Richard Thomas.
Where Have You Seen Richard Thomas and Sian Barbara Allen Together?
Judy Norton said that Sian Barbara Allen played Jenny Pendleton on The Waltons. Her first appearance on the show was during the season one episode, “The Love Story.” In that episode, John-Boy finds his first true love in Jenny. However, Richard Thomas and Sian Barbara Allen already knew each other. In fact, they dated in real life for a few years, according to Norton.
They met while working together on the 1972 film You’ll Like My Mother. That movie is a thriller. It focuses on a pregnant war widow who gets snowed in with her mother-in-law. While there, she discovers dark family secrets. One of those secrets is Kenny. He is a psychopath and the brother of the widow’s late husband. Kenny has recently escaped from an asylum and is hiding in his mother’s basement. In a huge departure from the role of John-Boy, Richard Thomas plays Kenny. Sian Barbara Allen plays Kathleen, Kenny’s mentally disabled sister. Allen won a Golden Globe for her performance in the film.
Both You’ll Like My Mother and The Waltons premiered in the same year. So, those who watched both would see the full range of Richard Thomas’ acting abilities.