No one on the street would recognize the creator of “The Waltons,” right? Wrong. For the show’s creator and writer Earl Hamner, all it took was a little narration work.
The creator of a television show is rarely noticed. They’ll win an occasional award, sure. Most of the industry will know who they are. But unless they’re starring in it, there’s not a ton of household fame in creating/writing a TV show.
In an interview with the Archive of American Television from 2003, Earl Hamner talked about the celebrity status he gained from narrating “The Waltons.”
He said it was “just the right kind of celebrity.”
“In London once, a shop lady said, ‘Why is your voice familiar?’ And I suggested why. And she agreed that that was where she’d heard it,” Hamner continued.
Imagine that. No one would ever recognize him until he said something. Hamner could effectively turn his celebrity on and off.
‘The Waltons’ Had An International Following
Beyond his own personal fame, Hamner was excited about the reach of his show. He shared anecdotes about “The Waltons” popping up in a handful of different countries.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve had some evidence of the popularity of the show all over the world. We were once in Vienna and I was interviewed by a Viennese journalist who said he wanted to see why the show was so popular in Germany. And he asked a group of children where they thought Walton’s Mountain and they said ‘oh it’s in the Vienna Woods.'”
Vienna… Virginia. Close enough, kids.
Hamner also mentions a time he was in Greece and saw the show playing in a library.
“And another time,” Hamner added. “We were in a B&B in Ireland, and we were about to go to bed and the innkeeper came up and knocked on the door and said ‘would you settle an argument?’ And I said ‘I’d try’ and he said ‘some people saw your name on the guest book and think that you’re a Walton.’ And I admitted that I was.”
This of course implying that the character of Earl Hamner’s narrator was in fact a Walton himself.
“And so I was never that kind of celebrity like real celebrities, but people knew my name, and a few knew my voice and it was fun. Very gratifying,” he finished.