‘The Waltons’: Will Geer and Michael Learned Teamed Up in 1974 for the Film, ‘Hurricane’

by Keeli Parkey

“The Waltons” brought its viewers many moving and memorable stories about the famous characters who lived on Waltons Mountain. Most of these stories centered, unsurprisingly, around the members of the Waltons clan. However, there were stories told about the supporting characters that were part of the popular family drama’s television run from 1972 through 1981.

What you may not have known is that during the show’s television run is that two of its stars played roles in a film about a natural disaster. That film is the 1974 television movie release, “Hurricane.”

(This film shouldn’t be confused with the 1999 film “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington. This film tells the story of boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. It is focused on his battle to be released from prison for a crime – murder – that he did not commit.)

Anyway, back to Michael Learned and Will Geer from “The Waltons.”

Their “Hurricane” film focuses on characters who are facing down a natural disaster. The plot is: “Two hurricane hunters track a huge, violent hurricane that is bearing down on a Gulf Coast town.”

In this production, “The Waltons” actress Michael Learned played the character of Lee Jackson. On “The Waltons,” Learned played mother Olivia Walton. Also, in “Hurricane,” actor Will Geer played the character of Dr. McCutcheon. Geer was famous for his role of Grandpa Zeb Walton in the popular family drama.

“The Waltons” stars Michael Learned and Will Geer were not the only famous television actors that appeared in the 1974 film “Hurricane.”

One of the stars of that television movie was Larry Hagman. Television viewers of a certain age will know that Hagman played the role of J.R. Ewing in the popular drama “Dallas.”

That famous show originally aired from 1978 until 1991. And, it gave viewers one of the most famous cliffhangers in television history. That cliffhanger, of course, was “Who shot J.R.”

Hagman also appeared as Major Anthony Nelson on “I Dream Of Jeannie” from 1965 through 1970. In this sitcom, Hagman played an astronaut who happens to find a genie in a bottle. That genie (also known as Jeannie, of course) was played by Barbara Eden.

Another popular television star who appeared alongside “The Waltons’ stars Will Geer and Michael Learned in the 1974 film “Hurricane” was Jessica Walter. Fans of the television series “Arrested Development” will know Walter as the sharp-tongued and hilarious character of Lucille Bluth.

Lucille was the matriarch of the dysfunctional Bluth clan. It was a show that was famously narrated by another television star and famous director. That talented man, of course, was Ron Howard.

Jessica Walter was also famous for her voice acting in the cartoon, “Archer.” In this series, she also played a critical and aloof mother. And, she played them very well.