The Waltons Cast: Then And Now

The Waltons Cast: Then And Now

Dec 15, 2020Thato

The Waltons debuted on September 14, 1972. It provided families with a way to escape and enjoy some time to themselves. This simple family was kept together by a strong bond, which made it very relatable to many American families. After the war, people couldn't get enough of feel-good tv shows, which saw the popularity of The Waltons rise. It's been almost 50 years since the show first made its debut; let's take a look at what happened to the cast and what they are up to!

Jon Walmsley: Then

Jon Walmsley played Jason Walton, one of the main characters on The Waltons. His character was a very laid back, kind person who was friends with almost everyone. As an actor, Walmsley's credentials soared after his performances on The Waltons and landed him several high profile gigs, including a voice-over role on Disney's Winnie the Pooh cartoons.

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Jon Walmsley: Now

When he was young, Jon Walmsley left his native England to pursue a career in Hollywood. In 2018, the former star of The Waltons moved back across the pond and changed careers. Walmsley no longer acts, but he makes music, and his band, The U.K. Beat, is doing relatively well. 

Mary Beth McDonough: Then

Mary Beth McDonough played Erin Walton on the show. Erin was the tattletale in the family, but she was also kind and caring. When Erin grew up, she became very attractive and started working at J.D. Pickett's metal products factory, where she became an advocate for women's rights. 

Mary Beth McDonough: Now

It turns out that when Mary Beth McDonough was advocating for women's rights on the show, she wasn't just acting. As she grew older, McDonough became passionate about empowering women and became a motivational speaker and an accomplished writer.

Eric Scott: Then

Eric Scott was cast as Ben Walton on The Waltons. Ben was named after his uncle Benjamin, and he's the entrepreneur in the family. Throughout the show, Ben comes up with elaborate schemes to make money, and they usually didn't work out too well for him.

Eric Scott: Now

Inspired by his character, Eric Scott decided to pursue business after his run on The Waltons. However, unlike his character, his schemes worked out extremely well, and Scott became a successful businessman. His parcel delivery company, Chase Messengers, is located in Sherman Oaks, California.

Judy Norton: Then 

No family is complete without a drama queen, and for The Waltons, her name was Mary Ellen Walton. The character played by actress Judy Norton was beloved by fans. She later became a nurse and was on the show for nine years. 

Judy Norton: Now

Judy Norton stayed in Los Angeles after the show ended, and she's currently still active in the industry. Norton said that her career almost came to a premature end after she appeared in Playboy Magazine. The actress went through a few marriages, but she looks to have found her soulmate in Robert Graves. 

David W. Harper: Then

David W. Harper was cast as the boy with the unforgettable name, James Robers Walton, better known as Jim Bob. He was the second-youngest of the seven Waltons children and the only one born in a hospital. Harper did have some small roles outside of The Waltons but nothing significant. 

David W. Harper: Now

David W. Harper's acting career peaked during his time on the show, and after his time on the show ended, he quit the entertainment industry. Since then, Harper has bought and sold some art in Los Angeles, and he considers himself a true artist

Kami Cotler: Then

Kami Cotler's career in Hollywood began when she was just six years old. The little girl from Long Beach, California, was cast as Elizabeth Walton, the Walton family's youngest daughter. As the show progresses, we see her grow from a young child to a confident, outspoken young woman. 

Kami Cotler: Now

When The Waltons ended, Cotler left the entertainment industry and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. Cotler received a degree in teaching, and her first job was at a small rural school near Schuyler, Virginia, a place very similar to the one where The Waltons was filmed. Cotler is currently the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Environmental Charter Schools.

Michael Learned: Then

The wife of John Walton was played by none other than Michael Learned. The actress played Olivia Walton, a loving mother of seven. Olivia Walton was very religious and would do anything to protect her family. Learned's portrayal is regarded as one of the best you'll see on the show. 

Michael Learned: Now

By the time The Waltons came to an end, Learned had already been awarded three Emmy's for her performances. Her career continued in the same trajectory, and she earned her fourth Emmy Award for her role in the 1982 medical drama series, Nurse. The veteran actress is still active in the entertainment industry, but she has had her fair share of controversy in the past.

Ellen Corby: Then

The actress is best known for her role as grandma Esther Walton on The Waltons. She made her Hollywood debut as a scriptwriter, which she held for 12 years before making her debut on-screen. Corby appeared in the film Dark Corner, and her performance helped land her a role in The Waltons

Ellen Corby: Now

Ellen Corby has appeared in more than 100 films and tv series in her lengthy career. Corby earned three Emmy Awards for her performances on The Waltons, she was also nominated for a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for her role in I Remember Mama. Sadly, Corby passed away in 1999 at the age of 87. 

Richard Thomas: Then

The eldest of The Waltons' children, John-Boy Walton, was played by Richard Thomas. But the actor only held the role of John-Boy for the first five seasons before being replaced by Robert Wightman. Thomas left the show early because he feared being typecast by directors, so he decided to pursue other projects. 

Richard Thomas: Now

Thomas' decision to leave the show proved to be an inspired one. He went on to have a successful acting career, starring in almost 40 movies and tv shows. The actor has lost some of his youthful exuberance, but he still has his work ethic and continues to be active in the industry. 

Leslie Winston: Then

Like most young girls back then, all Leslie Winston wanted to do when she grew up was to become an actress. She started doing school plays and theater productions before finally landing the role of Cindy Brunson Walton in The Waltons

Leslie Winston: Now

Unfortunately, an injury cut her dream short, and she was forced to leave acting for a year. But the accident proved to be a blessing in disguise, which allowed her to start her family. Winston retired shortly after to focus on her family, and now she only does voice-over acting. 

Tom Bower: Then

Tom Boyer made up his mind when he was 17 that he would pursue acting no matter what. He then moved to New York City and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. The actor was cast as Dr. Curtis Willard. The Dr. was very rude and hard to get along with and didn't make many friends. 

Tom Bower: Now

The Waltons were just a small part of Tom Bower's lengthy career in the entertainment industry. Bower amassed over 200 film and theater credits in his career, including Die Hard 2, Light of My Life, and Criminal Minds. The 2011 Syracuse International Film Festival also awarded Bower a Lifelong Achievement Honoree. 

Keith Coogan: Then

Keith Coogan made his first television appearance at the age of 2. The actor was cast as Jeffrey Burton, the son of Walton's family cousin Rose Burton Perkins. Coogan also appeared on Little House on the Prairie and 21 Jump Street during his younger years.

Keith Coogan: Now

Keith Coogan went on to have a stellar career after the show ended. Coogan has so far amassed over 80 acting credits, and he doesn't look like he intends to stop anytime soon. When he's not filming movies, Coogan hosts an online podcast called The Call Sheet.

Peter Fox: Then

Peter Fox played Reverend Henry Hank Buchanan on The Waltons. His stint on the show allowed him to land other roles around that time, including Delta House, The Young and the Restless, and Las Vegas.

Peter Fox: Now

Peter Fox is the Artistic Director of the Alliance Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles, which he's held for more than 16 years. Fox also teaches a course in directing at UCLA. Since he left the show, he has written, directed, and starred in several tv and movie productions. 

Lynn Hamilton: Then

Lynn Hamilton was cast as Verdie Grant Foster. The actress didn't make too many appearances on the show, but it did help her land her breakthrough role. Hamilton is best known for her role as Donna Harris in the sitcom Sanford and Son. 

Lynn Hamilton: Now

Since then, Hamilton has received acting credits in several high-profile productions, including The Gold Girls, Roots: The Next Generations, and Dangerous Women. The 90-year old actress stopped appearing in tv and film over a decade ago. 

Sian Barbara Allen: Then

Sian Barbara Allen appeared on the show as one of John-Boy's girlfriends, Jenny Pendleton. She was John-Boy's one true love on the show, but they never made it down the aisle. Allen appeared on the tv series Gunsmoke before she landed her role on The Waltons

Sian Barbara Allen: Now

Sian Barbara Allen earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance on You'll Like My Mother. The last time Allen was seen on tv was in 1990 on the show L.A Law. After that, the actress retired from acting. Allen spends her time raising her family, and now that they're all grown up, she's moved into writing. 

John Crawford: Then

John Crawford started his career in the U.K before returning to the United States, where he landed The Waltons' role. The actor appeared as Sheriff Ep Bridges on the show. Crawford appeared in 40 episodes of the show, and his performance is still remembered fondly to this day. 

John Crawford: Now

"Black Jack Crawford," as he was affectionately known, appeared in 200 movies and tv shows during his 40-year career. Some of his acting credits included Star Trek and The Dukes of Hazzard. Crawford passed away in 2010 following a stroke. 

Robert Donner: Then

After Robert Donner finished his service in the United States Navy, he moved to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming an actor. Donner was given his first shot at acting in the film Rio Bravo. Donner was then cast as Yancy Tucker, and he appeared in 19 episodes in total. 

Robert Donner: Now

Robert Donner loved to appear in Western films, but those weren't the only roles he could play. The actor appeared in several productions after the show ended. Donner also branched out into comedy and started an improv group known as the Crazy Quilt Comedy Company. The actor passed away in 2006 at the age of 75.

John Ritter: Then

The producers of the show cast John Ritter in a recurring role as Reverend Matthew Fordwick. The good reverend made his debut on the show in season one, episode seven. Ritter brought something unique to the show, and it is widely regarded as one of his best works. 

John Ritter: Now

John Ritter appeared in over 100 films and tv shows in his career. The great Don Knotts even called Ritter "the greatest physical comedian on the planet." The actor eventually received recognition for his talent by being awarded an Emmy and A Golden Globe Award. The comedian passed away in 2003, less than a week before his 55th birthday. 

Ralph Waite: Then

Ralph Waite was loved both on and off the set of The Waltons. Waite played John Walton Sr, the hardworking father of the seven Walton children; he also directed some of the episodes on the show during his time there. Waite was a part of the show from the first season to the eighth but left suddenly before the final season. 

Ralph Waite: Now

Ralph Waite was an actor for his entire life, up until he passed away in 2014. After leaving The Waltons, Waite appeared on several shows, including NCIS, Bones, and Days of Our Lives. He also appeared in movies such as Cool Hand Luke, Five Easy Pieces, The Grissom Gang, and The Bodyguard.

Joe Conley: Then

When John Conley returned from fighting for his country, he set his sights on becoming a Hollywood star. After being turned down several times, the actor eventually achieved his ambitious dream when he landed the role of shopkeeper Ike Godsey on The Waltons.

Joe Conley: Now

While pursuing his dreams of becoming an actor, Joe Conley also ran a real estate company to make ends meet. As an actor, Conley never quite lived up to the heights of his days on The Waltons, but he did appear on several smaller productions. In 2013, the actor passed away. 

Will Geer: Then

The producers gave Will Geer the role of the gentle Grandpa Zebulon Tyler Walton. His performance on the show warmed Americans' hearts everywhere and made him a favorite in millions of homes. During his time on The Waltons, Geer founded the Shakespearean theater Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, California.

Will Geer: Now

Will Geer was blacklisted in the 50s, and very few productions would hire him. However, the actor left a lasting mark on the show and earned an Emmy award for his performance. Geer passed away in 1978 while The Waltons was still in production. 

Ronnie Claire Edwards: Then

Ronnie Claire Edwards is best known for her role as Corabeth Walton Godsey on The Waltons. Edwards was a bit of a late bloomer and only started acting in her 30s. The actress also appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Nobody's Fool, and The Dead Pool.

Ronnie Claire Edwards: Now

Ronnie Claire Edwards authored two memoirs in her lifetime, The Knife Thrower's Assistant and Mr. Godsey Asked Me to Marry Him, and I Said "Yes!": When the actress retired, she sold her home in Los Angeles and moved to Dallas, Texas. Edwards passed away in 2016. 

Mary Jackson: Then

Mary Jackson played Emily Baldwin on The Waltons, one-half of the Baldwin sisters. Jackson brought the character often referred to as Miss Emily to life. She played the role so well that it seemed as though Jackson wasn't acting at all, and she was just living her own life. 

Mary Jackson: Now

Mary Jackson was born in Michigan and only moved to New York to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Jackson appeared in three Oscar-nominated films, including Persuasion, Airport, and Coming Home. The actress sadly passed away in 2005 at the age of 95. 

During The Walton's successful nine-year run on television, we were introduced to several interesting characters. Unfortunately, some of them are no longer with us. Others have retired from the industry and only still remain on our screens. A lot has changed since then, and television isn't what it once has lost some of its magic. If you could bring back any show from your childhood, what would it be and why? Leave a comment and let us know. And remember to share this with your family and friends.

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