On TV, “The Waltons” were America’s most wholesome family. They were the perfect depiction of morally upstanding people. And the show came at a time when much of the country felt like family values were deteriorating. But behind the scenes, the family was slightly more mischievous than their on-screen personas portrayed.
The actors responsible for “The Waltons” shared a familial bond on set. And sometimes, those relationships led to some hilarious hijinks. For example, Will Geer and Richard Thomas, the two who played Grandpa and John-Boy, knew how to cut loose between takes.
In an interview with Studio 10 in 2019, Richard Thomas recalled one of the pranks they used to pull on unsuspecting tourists.
“Will was outrageous and a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guy. They’d bring these tour groups through in these tour trams,” Thomas said. “‘Oh, The Waltons. Oh, it’s Grandpa and John-Boy playing a scene, let’s watch.’ And so they’d stand behind the camera and watch. So Will and I decided that at the end of the scene we would sing a chorus of Yankee Doodle Dandy and, you know, put our bums up at the end and moon the tour.”
Imagine the shock on the tour group’s faces as members of their favorite Depression-era family shoot them the moon while singing Yankee Doodle. It likely changed their impressions of the show forever. And by all accounts, this was the exact type of thing you could count on with Will Geer. He was a fun-loving guy with a passion for entertaining and leaving an impression on people.
‘The Waltons’ Star Went on to Have His Own Big Family
Tight as the relationships between cast members of “The Waltons” were, nothing can replace the bond between real family. And funnily enough, Richard Thomas, who played one of the seven Walton children, went on to raise a seven child family of his own.
In the interview with Studio 10, he was asked about the parallels between playing the child’s part and being the father in reality.
“Well, you just recreate a certain kind of happy childhood, don’t you? Isn’t that what it is?” Thomas said, laughing.
The John-Boy actor undoubtedly learned a lot from his on-screen family. And if Will Geer’s influence stuck with him, they know how to have some fun.