‘The Waltons’ Star Explained Why Sitting Next to Will Geer for Dinner Scenes Was a ‘Mistake’

by Joe Rutland

Apparently, one of the stars on “The Waltons” knew that sitting next to Grandpa Walton actor Will Geer wasn’t a smart idea all the time.

Why? Geer loved pulling the attention toward himself. There were other reasons, too, but Richard Thomas explains it a little better.

“We had to choose our seats,” Thomas, who played John-Boy Walton, said in an interview for the Archive of American Television. “At a dinner table, you usually sit in the same place. I forget how we actually chose our seats although it might have had to do with our first director figuring out where everybody wanted to be.

‘The Waltons’ Star Admits To Picking Seat Next To Grandpa Walton Actor

“But I remember choosing mine because I was so fond of Will,” Thomas said. “I made the incredibly naive mistake of placing myself between Will Geer and Kami Cotter (who played Elizabeth), who was maybe 7. I got between an adorable and beautiful child actress and a scene-stealing machine, right?

“And it’s a wonder that I managed to survive any of it,” Thomas said. “That I was even noticed in any of those scenes between Kami and Will. It was just insane that I did that.”

Now Thomas already had a lot of acting experience on TV and in theater prior to “The Waltons.” One might think that he’d know how to position himself for scenes like those around the dinner table. But he learned a lesson thanks to his admiration for Geer.

Will Geer died on April 22, 1978, of respiratory failure at 76 years old. He’d just wrapped up filming the series’ sixth season. Before the seventh season opener, the show honored Geer and wrote his character out of the show.

Being On TV Series With Big Family May Have Helped Thomas In Real Life

Obviously, “The Waltons” happens to be set up with a large family surrounded by love from parents and grandparents. Little did Thomas think that his TV family experience might help him in real life years down the road.

Back in 1994, Thomas married Georgiana Bischoff. Their children from previous relationships blended together into one big family.

Thomas, in an interview with Closer Weekly back in 2020, talked about his marriage and what it was like to be a parent in that situation.

“I’m married to the most honest, straightforward person, so you always know where you stand,” he said. “There’s a lot of trust between us and we have a lot of fun together.

“It wasn’t always easy, blending a family of six kids and then having our own son — that’s a big job,” Thomas said. “It causes tension and challenges, but we’ve been able to weather every storm and those complicated parts of life.”