When the hometown of “The Waltons” creator opened a museum in the show’s honor, one-star recalled going to the grand opening.
Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen on the CBS family drama, talked about her first time visiting Virginia, the home state of “The Waltons” creator Earl Hamner Jr.
“After the series was over, I think the first time I went to Virginia was in the ’90s,” Norton said during a segment of her “Behind The Scenes of The Waltons” show. “In 1990-something, ’92, ’93, when the Walton museum opened.
“When Earl was growing up, the area,” Norton said, “The building right across the street from the real Hamner house, was, I think at one point, the school that he went to [in his youth].”
‘The Waltons’ Star Said Community Leader Turned Building Into Museum
Norton said the school building would, later on, become a community center. But Schuyler, Va., Hamner’s hometown and the genesis for “The Waltons” series, would fall on hard economic times.
She said, “Someone in the community wanted to do more to bring more attention and more funds into the area and decided because of the notoriety of ‘The Waltons’ and the love of the Hamner family and everything that he turned that community center into a Walton museum.”
Norton recalled that when the museum opened in about 1992, “pretty much all of the cast flew back for that opening.”
“And it was quite an event,” she said. “I don’t know if any of you out there [watching her YouTube episode] were at the event. But the crowds were amazing. They were from all over. People came from England and Australia and all over the United States. I felt like I was at a rock concert or a political rally or something. It was pretty exciting.”
Hamner Provided Viewers A Glimpse Into His Growing-Up Years In Virginia
“The Waltons” aired between 1972-83 on CBS, providing the network with a solid family drama based around Hamner’s memories of life in Virginia.
But the show’s creator did live long enough to see that museum created. He would visit his hometown often years after “The Waltons” left network TV. It’s remained alive in reruns for a long, long time.
The Virginia-born Hamner received his Hollywood break thanks to getting a script accepted for Rod Serling’s classic show “The Twilight Zone.”
Hamner died on March 24, 2016, at 92 years old. But his memory continues on thanks to “The Waltons” and his follow-up series, “Falcon Crest.”
Now you might be asking where in the world is Schuyler, Va.? Actually, the town is pretty much in the center of the state. Hamner set “The Waltons” in the Depression as the family lived on Walton’s Mountain where many life events took place.