How Ma And Pa Walton’s Love For One Another Grew Behind The Scenes Of Their Hit Show
Depending on your age, you may remember the hit television show The Waltons that aired throughout the 1970s. The show followed the Walton family living in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II. People fell in love with the setting, the characters, and the storylines featured in each episode, allowing the show to air for nearly 10 years.
If you remember the show, you definitely remember John and Olivia Walton, the parents of the seven Walton siblings. John Walton was played by Ralph Waite, and Olivia Walton was played by Michael Learned. While the two actors played husband and wife on-screen, what many people don’t know is that they shared a deep love and affection for one another off-screen as well.
“They were good actors, and they all matched,” explained the show’s creator, Earl Hamner Jr. “They all meshed. It was a well-oiled machine.” Hamner credits much of this success to the fact that Waite and Learned worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure the actors all felt a family vibe, and that they supported them both on and off-screen.
“Ralph was a complicated man, a good-hearted man,” said Learned. “A kind person, deeply involved in his work.” She went on to reveal that at one point, the two actors actually began developing romantic feelings for one another. “We had a deep love for each other that we would have ruined if we had taken that extra step, and we didn’t,” she said. “We never did. We thought about it, but we didn’t. And I think that’s why we became a spiritual husband and wife if you will, and I miss him terribly. His wife is a very good friend. But what Ralph and I had was something that came across on screen.”
Waite sadly passed away in 2014, but his memory lives on in his anthology of acting work. I have even more fond feelings toward the show now that I know the Waltons shared such a special connection both on and off the screen.