Running on the CBS network between 1971 and 1981, The Waltons told the story of a squeaky clean family’s trials and tribulations from the time of the Great Depression of the 1930s through to the Second World War.
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the show was a huge success. Yet behind the wholesome apple pie veneer, the Waltons hid some pretty juicy secrets. Here are twenty amazing facts from behind the scenes of everybody’s favorite Depression-era family show.
Pa Liked A Drink … Or Three
Ralph Waite, who played patriarch John Walton, credited the show with helping him get sober. The former Presbyterian minister had hit the bottle pretty hard after his daughter died from leukemia at an early age. “During the early days of The Waltons, I was a wild man,” the actor said. “There was no such thing as a lunch without three or more Martinis. When I finally got back to the set, I was pretty much out of things.” The actor was sitting around the table with his wholesome on-screen family one day and realized he felt like a fake. This spurned him on to join Alcoholics Anonymous and start on the path to sobriety.
Ma Walton Liked A Drink Too
The actress Michael Learned was no stranger to the bottle either. She freely admitted to going to her first Waltons audition with a bottle of bourbon in her pocket, and was known to be drunk during filming. She eventually sought help, and sobered up in between filming seasons five and seven. Incidentally, that’s not a typo up there. Her real name was indeed ‘Michael’. Producers of the show billed her as ‘Miss Michael Learned’ in the opening credits to clear up any confusion.