I finally met the Walton’s! I have always loved The Walton’s TV series. I can never decide between it or Little House on the Prairie as to which is my favorite. I grew up watching re-runs of both and thanks to daytime television, my kiddos and I usually enjoy an episode after we finish school for the day.
There is something so wonderful and homey about the Walton family. The house, the setting but most of all the relationships between the family members. Everything seems so welcoming from the large kitchen table to the swinging screen door. I always admired the honest and challenging conversations Mama and Daddy had with their children and how the siblings put each others needs above their own wants. I especially love the relationship between Grandma and Grandpa, it seems so real that it is hard to believe they were acting.
As you know I love to create custom dolls based on people and characters from books or shows that I love. So of course, John-Boy was a must! I took my custom John-Boy with me to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield, MO to meet the cast of The Walton’s.
This year the Cherry Blossom Festival had the Walton cast in attendance as well as the cast of Little House on the Prairie. The Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event with concerts, plays, informative talks and meet and greets with interesting people from all over the world. You can meet celebrities, war heroes, presidential descendants, authors and more. With the Festival only a few hours away from my home, I had to take the opportunity to meet the actors of my favorite TV shows. You can read about my trip last year to the festival in the post Laura Meets Nellie Oleson. This year the Little House cast was also at the festival to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the airing of the pilot (March 30, 1974) of Little House on the Prairie.
When I arrived at the Marshfield Community Center, I placed little John-Boy in my backpack and entered into the gymnasium. I stood in line for about 15 minutes before I was able to actually see any of the cast members. Then across the gym I saw Richard Thomas stand up to take a photo with a fan. There stood the face I have watched all of my life.
Richard Thomas is the very talented actor that played John-Boy Walton on the TV series. As a kid growing up, I didn’t know if I wanted to be John-Boy or have him for my brother. I thought he was so amazing from his writing abilities to how he handled his responsibilities. He was a thoughtful big brother even though his tag-along siblings could irritate him at times, he usually remained patient and kind.
Once it was my turn to speak with Richard, he immediately noticed little John-Boy in my arms. His first response was a big smile and he asked “Is that an American boy doll? Did you make me?” He took the doll from me and started examining him. I showed him little John-Boy and how I customized him from his wig change to his custom face paint. Richard was so fun to talk with and so nice! He didn’t try to rush to the next in line, he just talked with me and asked me questions. Meeting him has been on my bucket list and I couldn’t be happier with the time I spent with him!
After my visit with Richard, I was able to see Michael Learned (Olivia Walton). As she finished talking with the fan in front of me, she turned and saw my doll. She lit up and said “It’s John-Boy” and immediately took him from me.
Next, I waited in the long line to see the rest of the Walton children. First up was Mary Elizabeth McDonough (Erin Walton). She was so bubbly and outgoing! She took little John-Boy from me and asked “Has Richard (Thomas) seen him yet?” After telling her about the blog, my passion for history and why I was carrying a doll around, she invited me to share my photos of the day and a link to the blog on her Facebook page. Mary Elizabeth is like her character Erin, beautiful inside and out.
Judy Norton Taylor (Mary Ellen Walton) was very soft spoken and sweet. I assumed she would be loud and outgoing like her character Mary Ellen. The line got stalled while I was in front of her, so I was able to ask her questions about the show. She said her personal favorite episode of The Walton’s was The Easter Story. She said that one was her favorite because John-Boy taught her to dance and she went to the dance with G.W. Haines.
Eric Scott (Ben Walton) was as much fun as you would expect! I asked him what episode was his favorite and he said “Anything with a lot of Ben”. More seriously he added that The Burn Out episode was his favorite to film because they worked at night. The show was always filmed during the daytime, but for The Burn Out they had special permission to work at night. The fire department was standing on the side of the set and it was very exciting. Eric also added that filming the POW episodes later in the series was fun for him because he was able to see what it was like to have his own show. He had always worked with the whole cast, but in those episodes it was just him without the family. When I handed him little John-Boy he immediately shook his hand.
The last Walton I saw was Jon Walmsley (Jason Walton). Jon was so very nice. He was quiet but all smiles. I asked him if he really played all the instruments himself on the show (I have always wondered this). He did! He is a musician in real life and has a Blues CD for sale.
Kami Cotler (Elizabeth Walton) wasn’t feeling well and didn’t make it on the day I was there. David W. Harper (Jim-Bob Walton) did not attend the event.
I had looked forward to this day for months and it was everything I had hoped for! It was a wonderful day!