The Waltons:


WILL GEER: Obituary from Variety April 26, 1978

Will Geer, 76, character actor who was successful in theatre, films, radio and television, died April 22 of a respiratory ailment in Los Angeles. Most recently, he had became familiar as the grandfather in "The Waltons" television series. His 60 years in show business began with Midwest tent shows and a riverboat but also took in "Tobacco Road" and Shakespearean roles on Broadway.

Born on a farm near Frankfort, Indiana, he lived in various places in Kentucky, Geogia and Tennessee before attending the Univ. of Chicago, then going onto Columbia Univ. for a master's degree. One of the people blacklisted during the McCarthy regime he made a living for a time, teaching vegetable growing as a result of his agricultural college training.

Geer's first acting was with summer troops on Ohio River riverboats during vacations from college. He joined Minnie Maddern Fiske for a tour, but left when she died in 1931. He also worked as a ship's steward on the Panama Pacific Lines and was a member of the maritime union in San Francisco.

After making a film in Russia in 1935 he worked on the stage in New York, New England the eastern seaboard. His first professional role was Shakespeare's Pistol.

His TV appearances also included "Mannix," "Gunsmoke," "Mission: Impossible," "Bonanza," "The Young Rebel," and his many film roles included "The Misleading Lady," "Deep Waters," "Intruder in the Dust," "Broken Arrow," "The Tall Target," "Salt of the Earth," "Advise and Consent," "Seconds," "In Cold Blood," "Bandolero," "The Reivers," "Brother John," "Napoleon and Samantha," "Executive Action," and others.

Geer was a frequent lecturer on theatre and helped establish repertory tbeatres at many schools including the Univ. of Michagan. He was also associated with many of America's Shakespearean festivals, most notably that in Sratford, Conn.

He is survived by his wife, actress Herta Ware, three children and two grandchildren.

NORA MARLOWE: Obituary from Variety, January 2, 1978

Nora Marlowe, age unreported, who for years played Flossie Brimmer on the CBS-TV series, "The Waltons", died December 31 after a long illness in Los Angeles.

Through the years Marlowe appeared in many theatrical films, among them, "North By Northwest" and "The Thomas Crown Affair".

Survivors include her husband, actor James P. McCallion, a son, a daughter, and a granddaughter.

ELLEN CORBY: 1911-1999

It is with great sadness that I add Ellen Corby's obituary to this new part of my site. She died on Wednesday, 14th April, 1999, at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills. She was 87 years old.

As Grandma Walton, Ellen Corby has been a part of many of our lives, since the early 1970's. It was for this role that she was awarded three Emmys, in 1973, 1975 and 1976. For some who have followed her long film career, it is even longer than that. She would be particularly remembered for her Academy Award nomination in 1948, for her role in the film "I Remember Mama".

As viewers, we have seen Grandma "Esther" Walton watch the Walton children growing up, helping them on their way to adulthood. We have listened as she passed on her heritage of stories to John Boy, so that they could live eternally. We have suffered with her as she struggled back from her stroke, trying to overcome her disabilities and remain a valuable member of her family. How many viewers could forget her first episode when she returned to the Walton fold after her stroke, and the frustrations she felt. What about Grandpa's joy at having his "old woman" back by his side again.

There are so many wonderful Grandma Walton moments that come to mind as I write this. In "The Prize" I can see her marching down to take her quilt in to be judged at the county fair, and insisting that another on display was one from several years ago. I recall her looking terribly grim every time the Baldwin sisters were mentioned, yet at the same time she told Livvy to put some of "the recipe" into the icing of her prize winning cake. I can see her in "The Sermon" trying to tell John Boy how to preach his sermon. Every time I think of this episode, I remember her banging on the dresser and dropping her notes all over the floor. Up on the mountain with Zeb is another favourite moment, when she keeps moving his hand away from her leg when he puts it there, until finally she reaches out, takes it and puts it back there once more. I remember all the times she has looked so proudly at others in the Walton family: Olivia and John renewing their vows, going with John Boy to see Boatright University, seeing the marriages of her grandchildren.

Perhaps the two most poignant moments which come to mind for me come from "The Sermon" and "Grandma Comes Home". In "The Sermon" Grandpa has been listening to what she is telling John Boy about preachin'. He rubs her hand, which seems a little sore from all her banging, and says:

"For in her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31, verse 26. All about a virtuous woman, where her price is far above the price of rubies."

The other moment is at the end of "Grandma Comes Home" when Grandpa tells her that her sharp tongue was given to her by "the Good Lord" to add spice and flavour to stop things from getting so flat.

We all have our special memories of Grandma Walton, and the wonderful actress who played her for so many years. She will continue to live on our TV screens for as long as The Waltons is shown, and she will live on in the hearts of Waltons fans forever.

My sympathies go to Ellen Corby's family and friends, and of course, The Waltons cast and crew. I believe that she will be sadly missed by all whose lives she touched. Judging from the articles on The Waltons which I've been reading recently, she was well loved by the child actors of the show, and many of them seem to have kept in touch with her.

At the end of "A Decade of the Waltons" when Esther goes up the mountain to see Zeb's grave, she says "Old man, you live in all our hearts." Well Grandma, you will live in all of our hearts too.

Thank you, Ellen Corby, for sharing your acting gift with us all and creating and making Grandma Walton someone who we all grew to know and love so much.

Goodnight Grandma and Ellen. Rest in peace.

Written by Karen Kearney.