‘The Waltons’: Historical Inaccuracies and Timeline Issues Were Hated by Cast: ‘Drove Us Crazy’

by Jon D. B.

In a telling interview, ‘The Waltons” star Michael Learned reveals that there was nothing the cast could do about the glaring timeline issues.

When it came to ‘The Waltons” television series, Olivia Walton’s Michael Learned says the main actors had quite a bit of power. By the time the films came around, however, that completely changed. Speaking to Cinephiled, the actress reveals that she tested this power up against execs in the light of “crazy” historical inaccuracies.

Cinephiled‘s Danny Miller, a Hollywood buff and self-professed Waltons’ superfan, had the opportunity to interview one of his longtime heroes in the beloved Learned. Together, they touch on these inaccuracies, and how the they absolutely drove the cast crazy.

“I was thrilled that you came back as Olivia for the six TV movies in the 80s and 90s but the way they played with the timeline on those shows made me nuts!” Miller remarks mid-way through the friendly interview.

Right off the bat, Learned reveals that the glaring hiccups used to drive her husband crazy, too.

“I remember he watched our Easter movie that took place in 1969 and said, “There was no moon landing over Easter — it was at the end of July!” Learned recalls to Miller. “Historical accuracy was definitely not the main focus of those films!”

Certainly an odd thing to know so concretely about a historical drama property like ‘The Waltons“!

‘The Waltons’ Character Ages Were “All Over the Map”

“Not to mention the fact that the characters’ ages were all over the map,” Miller continues the interview. “We all knew that John and Olivia celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in 1935 but there you were celebrating your 40th anniversary in the 1960s!” he adds, playing his superfan card – much to Learned’s approval.

“I know,” she laughs in return. “Things like that used to drive us crazy, they really did, but there was nothing we could do about it.”

Miller thinks, for his part, that “today they’d know that obsessive fans are also continuity experts and they’d never monkey around with the timeline like that.”

All too true. Modern Americana shows, such a Paramount’s ‘Yellowstone,’ are constantly nitpicked by fans – even over the tiniest of details.

As for ‘The Waltons,” Learned says there was no such thing when it came to the films.

“In those movies there was a lot of stuff that was allowed to get by that really bothered us,” she reiterates later in the interview.

For the show’s original run, however, Learned says the actors held “a little bit of power” while filming. “But when the movies came along we had none. If someone tried to protest something in the script, they’d probably just write them out of the story!” she laughs.

“But when you’re a regular on a series, you can be a pain in the ass – and we were! – and people would listen to you,” the star reiterates of her Olivia Walton television tenure.