HomeEntertainment‘The Waltons’: Why Grandma Actress Ellen Corby ‘Adopted’ Jon Walmsley as Her Grandson

‘The Waltons’: Why Grandma Actress Ellen Corby ‘Adopted’ Jon Walmsley as Her Grandson

by Katie Maloney
CENTURY CITY, CA - MARCH 23: (L-R) Jon Walmsley, Ellen Corby and Eric Scott attend "The Waltons" Wrap Party on March 23, 1980 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

The family on “The Waltons” was so close, it’s hard to believe that they weren’t really related. Nevertheless, the cast truly was just a group of actors pretending to be family for the show. However, there were two actors that decided to “adopt” each other into their own real-life families. Ellen Corby, who played Grandma Walton and Jon Walmsley who played Jason on the show, became very close while acting together.

So close, that even after the series ended, they considered each other grandmother and grandson. During an interview in 1974, Corby explained her relationship with Walmsley.

“Jon has no grandparents,” said Corby. “I have no grandson, so we’ve more or less adopted one another.”

In his 2005 biography, “Earl Hamner: From Walton’s Mountain to Tomorrow”, Hamner included a photo of Corby and Walmsley together at the Emmy Awards in 1975. The two attended the show together as “dates.” Corby won the Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. And what better way to celebrate than with her adoptive grandson by her side?

Richard Thomas Said His Character Felt Like a Spy In His Own Family on ‘The Waltons’

Certainly, “The Waltons” family had a healthy and loving dynamic. That said, just like all families, each member of the Waltons had his/her own personality. And sometimes those personalities clashed or simply didn’t understand each other. That was certainly the case for John-Boy, played by Richard Thomas. John-Boy was an aspiring writer who loved his family yet he knew he had to leave his home in order to reach his full potential. During an interview in 2016, Thomas talked about the way John-Boy felt growing up in “The Waltons” home.

“I think John-Boy is that (an artist), not necessarily the show but that character,” said Thomas. “And that split makes it very interesting to play because not only is he at home in his environment. He is also, he needs to escape it.”

Thomas said that this dynamic is one that many people experience while growing up.

“The conflict (is) between how much you love the people you are living with and how much you need to be separate from them,” Thomas said. “To individuate not just as a person but because you have a completely different way of seeing the world.

Thomas added that he enjoyed playing John-Boy on “The Waltons” because of the complexity and conflict the character experienced.

“You feel like a spy in your own home,” he said. “This creates a wonderful inner conflict that’s a character very rich to play.”

Richard Thomas talks about John Boy on “The Waltons”