From the mind of Earl Hamner,
the creator of The Waltons comes
Apple's Way Logo

As soon as The Walton's became an award-winning-smash-hit, Lorimar Productions tried to capture the genie in a bottle and tasked Earl Hamner to create a contemporary family oriented show following a similar formula of family focussed dramas that take place in a rural setting. Apple's Way was the result.

Apple's Way Family

Lasting only 28 episodes during the 1974-75 season, this show had many ingredients for success. It co-starred teen heart throb Vince Van Patten and a young Kristy McNichol but it failed on a variety of other levels that kept it from being the next hit for Lorimar. A similar family show that did become a hit would soon follow when the production company fine-tuned the formula and created Eight is Enough which interestingly starred Vince's father, Dick Van Patten.

Apple's Way Collage

Apple's Way TV Guide

Episode titles were styled the same style as was mostly the case with The Waltons. Episode names were titled with "The" used as a definite article followed by a noun for example:

The Tree, The Musician, The Zoo, The Teacher etc.

Episode List: Season 1, Season 2


Principal Cast Members

Ronny Cox ... George Apple
Frances Lee McCain ... Barbara Apple
Malcolm Atterbury ... Grandfather Aldon
Vincent Van Patten ... Paul Apple
Patti Cohoon-Friedman ... Cathy Apple
Eric Olson ... Steven Apple
Frannie Michel ... Patricia Apple (Season 1)
Kristy McNichol ... Patricia Apple ... (Season 2)

In season 2 the role of daughter Patricia Apple, actress Frannie Michel was replaced by Kristy (Credited as Kristie) McNichol.


Apple's Way is a television drama which aired on CBS from 1974-1975.

The Apples, a family from Los Angeles, seek refuge from the hectic pace of city living and relocate to the father's hometown of Appleton, Iowa, which was founded by the father's ancestors. The Apples included George, an architect who relocated from Los Angeles, his wife, Barbara; their children, Paul, Cathy, Steven and Patricia; and their grandfather Aldon. There they had to adjust to new culture, the climate, and the pace of life. The family lived in a working grist mill, which served as a backdrop for the situations played out on screen. While meaning well, George would often increase his family's tensions by getting involved with various causes.

The series did not gain the ratings CBS had hoped for, partly because it had to compete with NBC's Top 20 hit The Wonderful World of Disney. The concept was "re-booted" in the second season to focus on plots that dealt more with general social issues (such as freedom of speech, drug use, terminal illness, gun control) as opposed to the more rural-specific plots of the first season. The second season was produced by successful veteran producer-writer John Furia, Jr. Furia hired Worley Thorne as story editor. The series was canceled during its second season.

(Text Source: Wikipedia)

Apple's Way  Grist Mill

Except from the James E. Person biography
Earl Hamner: From Walton's Mountain to Tomorrow


Apple's Way was rushed into production to capitalize upon the success of The Waltons. Unfortunately, being hurried into production hurt the show, as Hamner was unable to properly conceive of and develop the series, which suffered from overt moralizing that its target audience found unappealing. Of the program that started this trend, Hamner said at the time, "I think people are hungry for a sense of security, and the Walton represent that. They're hungry, too, for real family relationships—not just rounding up the family for a cookout, but real togetherness where people are relating honestly."

Frannie Michel as Patricia Apple, Ronny Cox as George Apple, Frances Lee McCain as Barbara Apple, Eric Olson as Steven Apple, Patti Cohoon as Cathy Apple, Vincent Van Patten as Paul Apple.

Season 1 photo: Frannie Michel as Patricia Apple, Ronny Cox as George Apple, Frances Lee McCain as Barbara Apple, Eric Olson as Steven Apple, Patti Cohoon as Cathy Apple, Vincent Van Patten as Paul Apple. In the background you can see the "Friends" fountain located on the Warner's Ranch. This is opposite to the Baldwin House as seen in The Waltons.

Ronny Cox (George Apple), Lee McCain (Barbara Apple) and Malcom Atterbury (Grandfather Aldon Apple)

L to R - Ronny Cox (George Apple), Lee McCain (Barbara Apple) and Malcom Atterbury (Grandfather Aldon Apple).

Ronny Cox and  Lee McCain Apple's Way Family

A publicity still from Lorimar

Season 1 with Frannie Michel as Patricia Apple

Malcom Atterbury as Aldon Apple

Vincent Van Patten as Paul Apple

Eric Olson as Steven Apple


Apple's Way Family

Season 2 with Kristy McNichol as Patricia Apple

Apple's Way TV guide ad Earl Hamner creator of Apple's Way
Certainly there was a push to capture The Waltons audience. The wildly successful first series from creator Earl Hamner and Lorimar Productions.   EARL HAMNER is creator and executive producer of the new family series "Apple's Way" which has it's premiere Sunday, Feb. 10 1974 (7:30-8:30 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Hamner also created the highly-acclaimed series "The Waltons" and serves as it's executive story consultant.

Opening Credits - Season 2


Merchandise from the show
Metal Lunchbox and Thermos

Apple's Way  Lunchbox & Thermos

3D View-Master Reels
Apple's Way Talking Viewmaster


Much like the Waltons, Apple's Way came out with some supporting merchandise but the show really hadn't had enough time to establish itself or a market to support these tie-ins. View-Master released a standard 3-reel set as well as a premium Talking View-Master set.

King Seeley released a metal lunchbox and thermos and a less than compelling boardgame from Milton-Bradley hit the store shelves as well.

Apple's Way Viewmaster Apple's Way Viewmaster

The Board Game

Apple's Way Boardgame

(Roll-over the image below to see the game cards.)

Apple's Way Boardgame

Critic's Review
Bushelful of enjoyment on Apple's Way

Gary Deeb, Chicago Tribune, Feb.8, 1974

ONLY A NATTERING Nabob of Negativism- or a hard-hearted TV critic-could possibly poke fun at a nice man who has four cute kids, three cuddly dogs, a cute 'n' cuddly wife, a sincere yet vulnerable smile, lotsa money that somehow hasn't transformed him into an insensitive lout, and the kind of simplistic patriotism that gets him all kinda choked up when the flog goes by in a parade.

And If you think this Professional Tube Watcher is about to attack that combination, forget it. I know when I'm licked. I also know when I've been seduced.

To put it simply, I like George Apple, He's a sweet guy who wouldn't hurt anybody, and he s got a lovely family-the kind you want to put in a requisition for as your next-door neighbors.

Awright, awright. I'll admit this Apple fella Is a totally unsuspicious sort who'd be a potential candidate to purchase the Brooklyn Bridge. And I'll also grant you that the Blissful Apples make Ozzie & Harriet, by comparison, look like marriage-on-the rocks.

BUT MARK MY words, good friends. This Apple Clan is going to take America by storm as no family has since The Waltons made Thursday nights with Flip Wilson a thing of the past.

Let's face it. If a Smirking Skeptic like me, who actually challenges the indisputable fact that John Wayne won World War 1I singlehandedly, can swallow this bushel of Apples, then it stands to reason that the mass TV audience-a generally unquestioning group-will eat it up and beg for more.

I guess that's a roundabout way of saying that Apple's Way, the CBS family drama series that premieres at 6:30 Sunday night over WBBM-Ch. 2, is a satisfying show that'll probably score big in the ratings once viewers get around to sampling it.

NO MATTER what the network, producers, or writers tell you, Apple's Way is a contemporary Waltons. It's all about a family that drops out of the fast California scene to return to Dad's tiny Iowa hometown in search of the basic American values that made this country great.

Unlike the Depression-era Waltons, the 1974 Apples are in financial clover. Their luxurious rural home snugly nestles alongside a gorgeous old mill. The setting is idyllic. The old man is an architect.

But time and money are the only things separating the Waltons from the Apples. Both households are run by gentle, compassionate folk with open hearts and loving souls, and even W. C. Fields might have been tempted to give these "suckers" an even break.

Ronny Cox, who picked a mean banjo in "Deliverance," stars as George Apple. In Sunday night's opener he saves the town's 150-year-old oak tree, which commemorates. his ancestors. (You'll note that I've staved off the powerful urge to call It "his family tree" or "the Apple Tree.")

Just when the cutting crew is about to put the power saw to the grand oak, Apple climbs aboard the tree and refuses to come down. In due time he s joined up there by his kids, an elderly woman, some neighbors, and a few strangers.

The local newspaper pops up to cover the event, so does a TV crew, and by the second night the gang in the tree is singing "Down by the Old Mill Stream" and other all-Amer- ican campfire favorites, as admiring townspeople gather below to gape.

IT ALL ENDS quite happily, as Apple delivers-completely off the cuff, no less-a sentimental, patriotic harangue that s guaranteed to tug at everybody's heartstrings.

No, victories are hardly ever gained that neatly, I know. And the full hour is sweet, sticky, and gooey enough to frighten off any diabetic.

But, contrived or not, I liked it a lot. The formula of "Humanistic-Nebbish-Triumphs-Over-The-System," while certainly nothing new, sometimes does wondrous things for us hard-shell cynics.

This getting seduced can be mighty pleasant.

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