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The Hamner Family - The REAL Waltons
Schuyler, Virginia - The REAL Walton's Mountain

More than just another Hollywood writer

Earl Hamner

the REAL John-Boy


The Walton's were not just a fictional family typically created from the minds of Hollywood writers. They were, for the creator, the memories of growing up in rural Virginia... memories of family and neighbors... memories of a country still living in a time of innocence.


Prior to creating The Waltons Earl Hamner Jr.'s career began in Radio but he quickly made the move to Television as it was becoming the dominant format for entertainment programming.

While establishing his career in the brodcast world Earl Hamner rose to prominence as an author.

First Published - 1953

(From the dust jacket of "Fifty Roads to Town")

About the Author

The author of this first novel is thirty years old, the eldest of eight children. He was born Schuyler, Virginia, a villiage in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mr. Hamner has been writing since he was seven years old when the Richmond Times Dispatch published his first poem. In between reading everything in sight as he grew up, he milked cows, slopped hogs, caught posseums and paid for his tuition at the University of Richmond by working as a dispatcher for a trucking company and census taker. After serving in the army for three years, he returned to Richmond and began to work in radio, first as assistant program director and then moving on to Cincinatti, he obtained a job as radio writer. Mr. Hamner began to work on Fifty Roads To Town during one summer in Arkansas Ouachita Mountains where the state paid 23ยข a head for each crow brought in, but the author's aim was bad and he returned from the vacation with a fragment of the present novel and flat broke. He gradually worked his way up to New York and a job with a large advertising agency and finally, to NBC as a radio script writer where he is now happily employed.



First Published - 1961

First Published - 1965
First Published - 1970 First Published - 1999

In 1963, his second book was made into a film starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara.

Spencer's Mountain Lobby Card


Along with the novels that he would continue to write Earl Hamner made the move from the east coast to California and would write numerous teleplays for various television shows throughout the 1960's including 8 episodes of The Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling gave Hamner his first break in Hollywood.

Friends, since college days, Serling would joke that Earl had given him his "first" job when Rod replaced Earl after he resigned from his position as a writer at WLW, a Cincinatti radio/television station.

Twilight Zone Episodes


Hamner also created other family dramas

In 1968 he wrote the teleplay for the TV movie Heidi

more info at




In 1971 his book The Homecoming was turned in to a Television Christmas special.


The Homecoming

more info at

In 1972 he wrote the screenplay for the animated version of Charlotte's Web

more info at


In 1974 he wrote the screenplay for a story about an Appalacian family

more info at the


Earl Hamner and Richard Thomas on the set of The Waltons.


Based on the success of The Homecoming, the broadcaster, CBS, ordered one season of episodes based on the same characters. As a result The Waltons were born.

Earl Set Porch
By the time "The Waltons" hit the airwaves, life for Earl Hamner must have seemed pretty good for a "depression kid" from the Blue Ridge Mountains

With the Cast in 1975

Earl on the Walton set with "Blue' the mule

Earl appears with the cast of The Waltons

Earl appeared in the episode
"The Journey" (s2-ep28)

Earl, Michael. Ralph. Richard

Earl Hamner, the creator of "The Waltons" joins actors Michael, Ralph and Richard on the set.

Receiving the
George Foster Peabody Award (1972)

Link to Citation

Richard Thomas and Earl during the filming of the 90's reunions

A publicity still used to promote Earl's 2nd TV series "Apple's Way"


Earl Hamner - 2015
Courtesy Ray Castro



Earl's legacy of work did not go uncredited so it didn't take long for fans of his work to realize who was behind their favorite program.

Spencer's Mountain, 1963

The Twilight Zone, 1962-64

Palm Springs Weekend - Earl Hamner
Palm Springs Weekend, 1963

Gentle Ben - Earl Hamner
Gentle Ben, 1967

The Homecoming, 1971

The Waltons, 1972

The Waltons, 1973-81

Charlotte's Web, 1972

Where the Lillies Bloom, 1974


Apple's Way, 1974

Falcon Crest, 1981-1990

Apples Way TV print ad

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.

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.

This TV Guide Ad makes a direct comparison to Earl Hamner's successful hit, The Waltons. For a fascinating look at this forgotten series, click the image.

After the Waltons, Earl immediately created another succesful show that would run for 9 sesons as well, only this time the family would NOT be as nice as the Waltons.

Lorimar Productions practically created the Prime-time soap opera with their smash hit Dallas. After The Waltons, Earl created Falcon Crest for Lorimar-Telepictures


Earl Hamner, with Falcon Crest stars Jane Wyman and Robert Foxworth



Hamner would return to his post on the Waltons during the movie specials in the 90's

Earl has continued to write, create and be involved with his various creations.

More recently Earl co-wrote two children's books with Donald Sipes

Book Lassie
First Published - 1998


Book Odette
First Published - 2011


Earl continues to make appearances and be honored for his body of work

Library of Virginia's Literary Awards - 2011

Award 2013

Senate of Virginia Tribute - 2013



Watch a short documentary about Earl Hamner by the University of Cincinnati


A short promo from INSP where Earl discusses the importance of The Waltons


Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons, knows the power of television to elevate people and show our best -- and our worst -- sides. When done right, he believes television can be a positive influence on individuals and society.

A short interview by Jim Halterman where Earl comments about writing and his fans


Earl Hamner  Documentary

Read a detailed biography on Earl Hamner by George Brosi on Earl's website.

You can also purchase this interview on Kindle by M. Karen Brewer

Earl Hamner Jr.
1923 - 2016


On March 24th, 2016 legendary film and TV writer and author Earl Hamner passed surrounded by his family near his home in Los Angeles.


The first link below will take you to our memorial page for Earl.



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