‘The Waltons’: John-Boy’s Best Friend Also Voiced The Little Drummer Boy

by Maria Hartfield

Emmy award-winning CBS historical drama The Waltons gets a reboot this year. The eldest sibling, John-Boy Walton, makes a best friend in college. None other than Michael West, played by Teddy Eccles, an actor famous for his role in The Little Drummer Boy.

The Waltons live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Great Depression. The family works hard to make ends meet from the income they generate from their sawmill on Walton’s Mountain. The story centers around the family’s economic hardships, growing up, school, marriage, employment, and all the tribulations of life.

An aspiring novelist, John-Boy goes to college where he meets his soon-to-be best friend, Michael West.

John-Boy meets Michael West on his first day of college in the episode “The First Day.” Fast forward, and the last time audiences see the two together is in “The Ring.” Michael and John-Boy successfully secure jobs working together in a print shop and plan to attend a dance with their dates.

Meet ‘The Waltons’ Michael West

Mike West, played by Teddy Eccles, has a stacked resume of appearances from the time he was 6 months old. His mom got him gigs as a babe-in-arms on a soap opera. At age 15, Eccles had appeared in over 40 TV shows and 14 movies. He has shared the screen with many notable actors, including Shirley Temple, Mister Ed, Herman Munster, and Lucille Ball.

Most audiences will recognize Eccles’ voice from his most famous role as a young farm boy named Aaron in The Little Drummer Boy. The 1968 holiday TV classic centers around the life of Aaron, who receives a drum as a gift from his parents before their tragic death. The film ends with Aaron rediscovering joy after playing his drum for the babe born under a bright star in Bethlehem.

As the voice of Aaron in The Little Drummer Boy, Eccles joined the ranks of holiday special voice actors such as Burl Ives.

“He astounded movie writers with his grasp of language, his mature outlook, his adult manners,” the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram noted in 1969. Teddy was only 14 at the time.

Teddy’s schoolteacher insisted his successful acting career propelled him to be a star student.

“These children are able to move rapidly ahead in their studies because of their acting,” said his teacher Miss Cobb. “They have excellent memories, sharpened by their daily task of learning lines, and because of their work with directors, they take instruction extremely well.”

Eventually, Eccles graduated from acting in children’s shows to appearing on more dramas such as The Waltons and M*A*S*H. He stopped acting in 1977 and began working as a movie marketer instead.

Eccles successfully contributed to creative marketing campaigns for movies, including Pretty Woman, Dick Tracy, and The Lion King. Not to mention TV series like Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother.

Finally, Eccles became a producer and director on over 200 TV episodes, including CBS shows.