"The Waltons" cast members return to Nelson Co., weigh in on show's family impact
FABER, Va. (WSET) -- On a bright warm day in the heart of Nelson County, Waltons cast members, Michael Learned, Judy Norton and Martha Nix shared stories about their TV family.
"It's so beautiful, for starters, and we always like getting together," said Michael Learned, who played the mother, Olivia Walton. "We're really fond of each other, and you know, it's a family reunion every time we get together."
They came to town for a Mother's Day/Father's Day Celebration, honoring "Earl & Doris Hamner Sr., Earl Hamner Jr., Ralph Waite, Will Geer, Patricia Neal, Ellen Corby and others."
Several cast members attended the 45th Anniversary Reunion in March 2017 and Richard Thomas, who starred as John Boy in the show, was there for the 25th Anniversary of the Waltons Museum in October 2017.
The show's creater, Earl Hamner, based it on his childhood and what many viewers call the ideal family.
"I remember saying, 'Earl, didn't your mother ever make a mistake?' He said, 'No, she never made a mistake,' and I said 'That is the biggest load of you know what I ever heard,'" joked Learned, as the other cast members laughed.
Judy Norton played the oldest daughter and sibling, Mary Ellen.
"They were my brothers and sisters, this is my family, so it gave me this amazing second family," Norton said, adding they're glad to be a part of what it all represents. "That gave a boost to family and unity and family values and the core and the heart of what a family's about."
Martha Nix joined the cast years later, playing Serena Burton, one of the grandchildren of the Waltons' cousin Rose Burton.
"Jeffrey and Serena were brought to Waltons Mountain because we had abusive parents, but Aunt Rose was that mom to us," Nix said, portraying another side many families can relate to.
She also described how the on-screen family life carried over into real life.
"I'd had a family before on Days of Our Lives. This was my new family, and really in Hollywood, you become family," she said.
Years later, the family unit is still alive and well, and they're thankful for all the fans.
"They felt like they were living it while they were watching the show, and that always makes me feel good," said Learned.
The cast members also weighed in on the construction of a replica of the Waltons house.
“It’s gonna be fun for people, I mean, I’m surprised that people come from great distances just for this," Learned said. "That's going to be pretty exciting, so we'll be back for that."
"[It's] for people to see how it truly was for the Hamner family, and they had eight kids," said Nix, comparing the real Hamner home to the set used in the TV show.
You can meet the cast members and attend their Mother’s Day/Father’s Day banquet program.
Here's the weekend itinerary:
Saturday June 2, 2018
“Mother’s Day/Father’s Day” Autograph Show featuring Michael Learned, Judy Norton and Martha Nix
Location: Walton’s Mountain Museum
Time: 10:00am - 3:30pm
Cast Lunch 12:00 - 1:00pm
(Autographs vouchers, Selfie vouchers and merchandise prices are additional and can be purchased at the Autograph Show)
“Mother’s Day/Father’s Day Banquet Program” featuring Michael Learned, Judy Norton and Martha Nix
Location: Walton’s Mountain Museum
Time: 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Sunday June 3, 2018
“Mother’s Day/Father’s Day” Walton’s Kitchen Photo Op with Michael Learned, Judy Norton & Martha Nix
Location: Walton’s Mountain Museum Kitchen Room
Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm
“Earl Hamner Sr. & Doris Hamner Tree Planting Ceremony”
Location: The Waltons Hamner House
Time: 12:30pm - 1:00pm
Tickets for the celebration weekend can be purchased on The Waltons Hamner House website.
(Tickets were previously mailed out to friends who already purchased tickets.)