‘The Waltons’: One Actress Revealed How Cast Would Put Creator Earl Hamner ‘Through the Ringer’

by Quentin Blount
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One star actress from The Waltons opened up about how the cast of the show liked to do their own thing from time to time.

Michael Learned is without a doubt best known for her role as Olivia Walton in the CBS drama. She starred on The Waltons from 1972 until 1981. She even won three Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance. So it goes without saying that she and her fellow cast members were great at their jobs.

But they didn’t always just sit back and play their role how it was originally written.

Learned opened up in a 2019 interview with Smashing Interviews about how she and other actors would give their two cents about how they should play their characters. As a result, she said, they often put the show’s creator, Earl Hamner, “through the ringer.”

“Earl was a decent man with a great sense of humor,” Learned said in 2019. “I think we put him through the ringer a lot of times because we’d say, ‘My character wouldn’t do that!'”

‘The Waltons’ Creator Would Listen to Ideas from the Cast

During the interview, Learned went on to explain how they would make suggestions to the show’s creator. She says that he was always accepting of advice and would go along with ideas from others.

“We did make some useful suggestions at times because Earl loved his family, and he didn’t want to offend anybody because that’s the kind of man he was,” she explained. “So there were times when we would say, ‘Earl, this is getting too sticky. You’ve got to toughen it up a little bit. You’ve got to have Olivia make a mistake and punish the wrong child or something a little more human.’ He would go along with that.”

Meanwhile, Learned also shed some light on how The Waltons cast wasn’t always perfect. But, she said that was part of what made the show so special.

“I said, ‘Earl, didn’t your mother ever do anything wrong ever?'” Learned recalled. “You know, my character was based on his mother. He said, ‘No.’ (laughs). I said, ‘Well, we’ve got to have some time where Olivia is overreacting or underreacting or not perfect because no mother’s perfect.’ I think that was part of the charm of the show, that we weren’t perfect at least not in the first two years.”

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