‘The Waltons’: One Actor Ended Up Having Same Number of Kids as Waltons Had on Show

by Suzanne Halliburton

The Waltons big, beautiful family brought us warmth and happiness throughout the 1970s when the series showed us what it was like to live and thrive in rural Virginia during the Great Depression.

The family lived under one roof on Walton’s Mountain. There were a set of parents and grandparents, plus seven kids. The audience found out in a later episode that one child died at birth. He was Jim Bob’s twin, Joseph Zebulon Walton.

So maybe it made sense that the personal life of one of The Waltons stars imitated the series.

Did you know that Richard Thomas, aka John Boy Walton, was the father or step father to seven kids in real life? They’re all grown now. The youngest is in his mid-20s.

Thomas appeared on the Australian morning TV show Studio 10 in 2019. And he was asked about all things The Waltons. But the interviewer also asked him about his large family. Was it life imitating art?

“You just recreate a certain kind of happy childhood, don’t you,” Thomas said.

As Richard Thomas Was Leaving ‘The Waltons,’ He Was Starting Own Family

Richard Thomas was starting his own family at about the same time he left his TV one on The Waltons. He and his first wife, Alma, were parents to son, Richard Francisco. Then came a big surprise. Alma knew she was pregnant with twins in the summer of 1981. And twins ran on both sides of the family.

Alma went into labor three weeks early. And a sonogram revealed a surprise — another heartbeat. Alma left a message for her husband, who was starring on Broadway. They were having triplets instead of twins. Three beautiful, identical baby girls were born on Aug. 21, 1981.

News of the triplets made headlines around the world. And because Thomas still was so tied to The Waltons, People magazine introduced the country to the girls with a cover story — John Boy’s Triplets. The New York Times, also playing off The Waltons theme, said the initial baby names were John Girl 1, John Girl 2 and John Girl 3.

Thomas and his wife divorced in 1993. He married Georgiana Bischoff over Thanksgiving, 1994. The couple had one son together. And Georgiana also had two children from a previous relationship.

It was one big, beautiful blended family with seven kids, although the grandparents weren’t living in the same house. So it wasn’t exactly like The Waltons.

Thomas told Closer Weekly last December that his children now were scattered over the country, living in California, Oregon and New York. He has five grandchildren.

He also has parental advice to give. Maybe he learned it years ago from The Waltons.

“Don’t try to make them be like you,” Thomas said. “Leave them alone. I don’t mean let them go out and play in traffic. But let them be free to grow into who they are. It’s not new wisdom — we all try to do it, and it’s easier said than done. But it’s important.”