When you think of “The Waltons” you may not necessarily think of action-packed stunt work. However, there were a few episodes that required some fun stunts. The season three episode titled “The Thoroughbred” was one of them. During the episode, John-Boy decides to enter into a local race. He plans to ride his mule named Blue in the race. And it seems like he’s set to win until one of his college classmates enters the race with a thoroughbred horse.
The episode includes scenes of John-Boy training with Blue. And it also includes several exciting race scenes where all the competitors leap and gallop across Walton Mountain terrain. So, obviously, the cast needed some stunt doubles for the scenes. During the latest episode of Judy Norton’s “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton,” Norton explained how the stunt team worked in the scenes.
‘Stunt work comes in to play with an episode like this where you’re dealing with a lot of horses racing and things like that,” said Norton.
She said that fans can guess when stunt doubles were being used by noticing all the scenes where you can’t clearly see the actor’s face.
“I’m not sure exactly where and when different stunt riders were covering for the actors,” said Norton. “Obviously, when you can see the actors’ faces, you know that’s the actor. But in some of the longer shots where you can’t tell, I am sure the actor playing Carl and Richard were both being doubled, just for safety reasons.”
Did Actor Richard Thomas Really Fall Off a Horse During the Episode of ‘The Waltons’?
The horse race is a pretty nail-biting scene. Obviously, fans are cheering for John-Boy to win and reclaim the family name on the local trophy. But he has a lot of competition with his well-trained classmate. During the race, John-Boy gives it his absolute best until he’s thrown from his mule. He falls into a puddle of mud and for a minute, seems like he could be really hurt. So, did Richard Thomas really fall off the horse? Or was a stunt double used for the scene? The answer is, both!
“This particular scene when John-Boy falls off of Blue and into the mud, that was a stunt person who came up and took the fall,” said Norton.
But Richard Thomas didn’t let the stunt double do all the dirty (literally) work. He got right down in the mud for a close-up shot during the scene.
“Intercut then with this close-up of Richard actually in the mud,” said Norton.
Norton added that this was a perfect example of how stunt work is used to protect actors, while also allowing them into the scene. Actors can’t miss out on all the fun, right?
“So there’s an example of editing to accomplish the safety of the actor. Then, also being able to see the actor.”