The Waltons Creator Earl Hamner Jr Dies

The original “John Boy” Earl Hamner died March 24 in Los Angeles at the age of 92. Reports state that he died as a result of cancer and friend Ray Castro Jr. said that Hamner had recently been dealing with a case of pneumonia.

Son Scott said that his father died surrounded by family as the John Denver hit “Rocky Mountain High” was playing.

It was Hamner’s story about his growing up during the Depression in Blue Ridge Mountain Virginia that became the basis for the popular family drama “The Waltons”. It was Hamner’s voice that fans of the show heard each week in the voice of the narrator.

While best known for “The Waltons” – he wrote 213 of the show’s episodes plus the movies, Hamner was responsible for penning series episodes and films for dozens of productions including his 1953 debut for “The Kate Smith Hour”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Spencer’s Mountain”, eight episodes of “The Twilight Zone”, “The Long Hot Summer”, “wagon Train”, “Heidi”, eight episodes of “Gentle Ben”, “The Homecoming:A Christmas Story”, 28 episodes of “Apple’s Way”, 228 episodes of “Falcon’s Crest”, “The Night Before Christmas: A Mouse Story”, and the film story for “Charlotte’s Web”.

Along with his numerous television scripts, Hamner wrote some dozen books.

Hamner is also credited as being the producer on 15 productions including“Apple’s Way”, “The Waltons” television series and films, “Falcon’s Crest”, and “Snowy River”.

Hamner continued to write up until his death. He once noted “if I made any unique contribution to the series, (“The Twilight Zone”) it was to introduce the American folklore element into it.” The folklore element was a recurring theme in Hamner’s writing.

Earl Hanry Hamner Jr was born on July 10, 1923, the oldest of eight children in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Schuyler, Virginia. He decided that he wanted to make writing his profession at the early age of six.

A good student, Earl graduated from high school at the top of his class before entering the University of Richmond. But a stint in the US Army cut his education short when he was drafted during World War II. It was while Hamner was stationed in France that he began writing “Spencer’s Mountain”, the story that would inspire “The Waltons”.

After returning home after the war, Hamner completed his education at the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Broadcasting.

Hamner started his writing career with a publication on the children’s page of a newspaper; along the way he earned an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, Man of the Year Awards, and holds five Honourary Doctorate degrees.

Hamner is survived by his wife of over 60 years Jane and children – Caroline and Scott.


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