‘The Waltons’: Jonathan Frakes’ Storyline Was Written By a Fellow Cast Member

by Katie Maloney

Which actor from “The Waltons” had the idea to introduce the character of Ashley Longworth Jr.?

Any fan of “The Waltons” knows that the Baldwin sisters were an integral part of the Waltons Mountain community. Both Mamie and Emily Baldwin were always bringing humor and sophistication to the neighborhood. However, there was one topic that was sure to sour Emily Baldwin’s mood – her long-lost love Ashley Longworth.

During the show, we learn that Emily had a very brief whirlwind romance with Ashley. The two kissed only once before Ashley left Waltons Mountain and never returned. Nevertheless, Emily held Ashley in her heart as the love of her life, and she never really moved on from him. No news of Ashley was ever revealed until “The Waltons” episodes titled “The Legacy” and “The Lost Sheep.” During the episodes, Ashley’s son Ashley Longworth Jr. returns to Waltons Mountain. And Emily Baldwin is faced with all her emotions from the past.

But it wasn’t the “The Waltons” writers who came up with the idea to introduce Ashley Longworth Jr. In fact, it was actress Michael Learned, who played Olivia Walton, who came up with the idea. During an episode of “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton,” Norton talked about working with the actor who played Ashley Jr.

“Ashley Longworth Jr. was played by actor Jonathan Frakes. Who is what I would call a tall, dark and handsome drink of water,” said Norton. “So it was no hardship for all of us to work with Jonathan for a couple episodes.

Judy Norton talks about the Baldwin sister on “The Waltons”

When Ashley Jr. returns to Waltons Mountain, Emily Baldwin mistakes him for his father, her long-lost love.

“She gets awfully silly about playing that out in real life,” said Norton. “And Miss Mamie (Emily’s sister) convinces Ashley to go along with it for Emily’s sake.”

But the plan backfires when Ashley Jr. falls for Erin after meeting her at the Waltons’ house. During one of the scenes, Erin and Ashley share a romantic kiss. But the romance is foiled when Emily sees the two of them together and runs off in a dramatic fit.

During the show, Jonathan Frakes wore a white naval uniform. But that wasn’t the last time he’d don a uniform for a role. In fact, he went on to star as Commander William Riker in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the subsequent movies. So, he traded in his uniform from “The Waltons” for a galactic commander uniform.