Merie Earle, ‘The Waltons’ Maude Gormley Actress, Was Born on This Day in 1889

by Katie Maloney
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Happy (would be) 132nd Birthday, Merie Earle! Here’s everything you need to know about the actress who played Maude Gormley on “The Waltons.”

Merie Earle, birthname Goldie Merie Ireland, was born on May 13, 1889. She was an American actress best known for her role as Maude Gormley on “The Waltons.”

Earle sang and danced as a kid but she went almost her entire life without a show business career. It wasn’t until her husband retired and the two moved to California to be closer to their daughter, that Earle was discovered by a talent agent. Earle was performing in a play at a Methodist Church when she was discovered.

Her first television appearances came with ads for Polaroid. Then in 1967, Earle had her movie debut in “Fitzwilly” starring Dick Van Dyke. She went on to appear in five more films before becoming a regular on “The Waltons” from 1972-1979. While playing Maude, she made several appearances on the show. Maude was usually the character that inspired the episode’s story. During a season four episode, Maude gave the Waltons her goat named Myrtle. During another episode, Maude enlists John-Boy to help her find her missing cat. Later in the season, Maude is sent to a retirement home by her son, but she escapes. In addition to interacting with the Waltons, Maude could often be seen baking pies for churchgoers and purchasing community members’ new business products.

‘The Waltons’ Actress Merie Earle Never Slowed Down

If anyone ever tries to tell you that life slows down after retirement, look no further than Merie Earle to prove them wrong. In her late 70s, Earle landed a role in a movie alongside Dick Van Dyke. She also became a regular on one of the most iconic classic TV shows of all time. And she almost broke into the Broadway scene. In fact, she was scheduled to make her Broadway debut, at age 88. She was going to appear in a revival of Paul Zindel’s Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

Unfortunately, Earle fractured her hip during the show’s first run in La Jolla, California. She had to withdraw from the production before its New York premiere. Nevertheless, she guest-starred on many popular TV shows including “The Beverly Hillbillies, “Bewitched,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “All in the Family,” “Alice,” “Phyllis and “Whiz Kids.” Well into her 80s and 90s, Earle frequently made appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” In conclusion, Meri Earle is proof that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

“The Waltons” Merie Early outlived both her husband and her daughter. She passed at the age of 95 on November 4, 1984. She passed from uremia poisoning following colon cancer surgery. Nevertheless, her legacy lives on in some of the most iconic classic TV shows of all time.

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