‘The Waltons’: Richard Thomas Revealed Cast Member He is Still ‘Very, Very, Very Close With’

by Keeli Parkey

When spending many years playing family members on a television show like “The Waltons,” it’s almost inevitable that family-like bonds will form between some of the actors. This was the case for actor Richard Thomas and some of his co-stars on “The Waltons.”

Thomas famously played John-Boy Walton on the popular show, which aired from 1972 until 1981. In December 2020, the actor talked with FoxNews.com about his time on the show and the relationships he grew to cherish after it came to an end.

During the interview, Thomas said he really bonded with fellow actors Ralph Waite and Michael Learned. Waite played John Walton Sr., the father of Thomas’ John-Boy character.

Learned played John-Boy’s mother Olivia Walton. So, it’s not too surprising that Thomas would grow close to the actors who played his parents on “The Waltons.”

When asked about his memories from the classic show, Thomas talked to FoxNews.com about working with Waite and Learned. “The Waltons” is a show about a family living in Virginia during the Great Depression and beyond.

John-Boy Actor Grew Close to Actors Who Played His Parents on ‘The Waltons’

“There are many, many memories that make me smile,” Thomas said. “What’s making me smile right now is the memory of working with the wonderful Michael Learned and the great Ralph Waite who played my parents, and what wonderful actors and people they were.” 

As much as he respected and admired Ralph Waite, it is Michael Learned that Thomas remains closest to these days. And, fans should know that most of the cast of “The Waltons” stay in touch, according to Thomas.

“Michael and I are still very, very, very close, as all of us are. We’re still a great big family, believe it or not. We stay in touch and that circle has never been broken,” Thomas said. “But just the memory of working with all of those wonderful people, that’s the thing that makes me happiest of all.”

Fellow Actors Respected, Loved Ralph Waite

Even though he said Learned was the co-star he remains closest to, Thomas also has a lot of respect for Waite, according to FoxNews.com.

“I’d made a picture with him years before (the show),” Thomas said. “And he was an uncompromisingly honest artist and an actor. He wanted things to be real and true. He was such a warm man with such a great sense of humor. And we really bonded. It was very easy for him. And it was easy for me to let him be my dad for all those years. I really cherish the time that we had together.”

Michael Learned also loved and respected Ralph Waite. She even credits the actor with helping her get sober while they were working on “The Waltons.”

“Well, Ralph got me sober,” she told FoxNews.com. “I said, ‘I’ll go and be supportive for you.’ Because he said, ‘I’m going to AA.’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s wonderful. You really need it.’ He grabbed me by the shoulders, and he said, ‘I think you should come.’ And I’m like, ‘Me?’”

Learned also said this about Waite: “But he got me sober, and I’m very grateful to him for that. And we were lovers, not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. We adored each other. We were like a married couple without all the baggage that you get when you’re in a marriage.”