‘The Waltons’: Tom Bower Appeared as Different Key Guest Character in Season Before Dr. Curtis Willard Debut

by Joe Rutland
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Sometimes, actors who make appearances on shows come back in another character. “The Waltons” did this with actor Tom Bower.

With the hit CBS family drama set in the 1930s and 1940s, different forms of entertainment would come to these rural areas, according to an article on ME.tv. One of them was called barnstorming, where stunt pilots would fly over areas and perform daring feats as people watched from below.

Now Bower portrayed barnstorming pilot Rex Barker in an episode titled “The Wingwalker.” Barker had a stunt woman who walked along the wing of the biplane as it was in the air.

The woman and John-Boy Walton, played by Richard Thomas, had a brief romance before it ended before the episode ends. Such is life and love, you know.

‘The Waltons’ Made Room For Bower In Cast

Yet Bower was not done with “The Waltons” at all. Speaking of love, he comes back into the series during its fifth season as Dr. Curtis Willard. Hardcore fans of “The Waltons” will recognize that name immediately. Willard shows up and befriends Mary-Ellen Walton, portrayed by Judy Norton.

Well, faster than you can say “Good night, Elizabeth,” they become more than good friends. Mary-Ellen was all set to marry another guy, but she dropped the ring and ended that engagement. What did she do? Mary-Ellen tied the knot with the good doctor. Bower appears as Willard throughout the fifth and sixth seasons on “The Waltons.”

But Dr. Willard finds himself being called away to serve his country during World War II. Before he leaves, though, Willard and Mary-Ellen have a child, John-Curtis, together.

Richard Thomas Doesn’t Find John-Boy As Curse

Some actors may not want to be remembered for their long-running characters. In fact, some may not be able to find other work in show business.

Richard Thomas, though, is not one of those who holds bitterness toward playing John-Boy Walton.

“Oh no,” Thomas said to Smashing Interviews Magazine. “It’s just a blessing. It’s wonderful. There are challenges with every way of life, but if you’re an actor, and you’re lucky enough to create a role that has that kind of an impact, then it’s a good day’s work.”

Thomas played the dreaming-of-being-a-writer son of John Walton, played by Ralph Waite, and Olivia Walton, played by Michael Learned, for seven seasons. Actor Robert Wightman played John-Boy in the show’s final two seasons after Thomas was replaced.

Still, ask anyone who remembers “The Waltons” and Richard Thomas’ name will come up in conversation.

Outsider.com