• July 19, 2024

The Waltons: Where the Cast Is Today

A successful, nine-season American period drama, The Waltons first aired in 1972 and finished in 1981. The show tells the story of a rural Virginian family, the Waltons, through the eyes of a teenager named John-Boy. The titular family consists of John-Boy and his six siblings, parents, and grandparents, with John-Boy himself being based on the showrunner, Earl Hamner Jr. John-Boy recounts stories based on Hamner’s own experiences living in the rural countryside in the 1930s.

Living through some of the toughest patches of modern history, the Walton children quickly lose their innocence and turn to a life of demanding adulthood and responsibilities. Despite the demanding situations, the Waltons never cease to share love and help each other and their community, building a little safe haven and providing warmth through difficult times. Because of this, the series has maintained an enduring legacy over the years, prompting the creation of six feature-length films after the series’ completion, in addition to winning an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series when it debuted in 1973. The Waltons themselves are still considered to be one of the most wholesome American TV families to date.

Updated December 15, 2023: This article has been updated with additional content surrounding where the cast of The Waltons are nowadays.

It has been decades since the cast of The Waltons first greeted the audience. Such a legendary and pivotal TV show gets people wondering where the cast is today after so many years. Well, we’ve done our research. Here’s what the cast of The Waltons have been up to since the series originally concluded.

Richard Thomas as John-Boy Walton

After successfully grabbing the audience’s attention and heart with his fantastic performance in The Waltons as John-Boy, Richard Thomas left the show after five seasons and continued his journey as an actor with other roles. He starred in the 1979 miniseries Roots: The Next Generations and, more recently, in the acclaimed FX series The Americans. Richard Thomas held a supporting role before transitioning into the main cast as an FBI Agent named Frank Gaad. Afterward, Thomas had a role in the Showtime original Billions as Sanford Bensinger, and later appeared in several episodes of the hit science-fiction series Ozark as Nathan Davis. He also went on to portray several law enforcement characters, such as in NCIS: New Orleans. Richard Thomas is also the narrator for the newest reboot of The WaltonsThe Waltons: Homecoming.

He tends to gravitate towards thriller and horror genres for his work after The Waltons originally wrapped up, such as in the original 1990 It miniseries. Though known for many great roles after John-Boy, Richard Thomas is often glued to the charming Walton boy, thanks to his killer portrayal of the lovable character.

Michael Learned as Olivia Walton

Michael Learned’s performance as Olivia Walton put her name on the map. After The Waltons ended, she played a role in a 1982 CBS TV show, Nurse, mesmerizing the audience once again with her performance and netting herself an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress. Her role in The Waltons brought her an incredible number of Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, taking home three of the six awards she was nominated for.

Michael Learned’s latest work is, shockingly, through a popular 2022 Netflix show. She had a key role in Dahmer, portraying the titular serial killer’s grandmother in the show. Before that, she was also well known for her roles in General Hospital and The Young and the Restless. Now in her golden years, she is living well with her husband in California, enjoying her life after having a meaningful career as a fantastic actor.

Kami Cotler as Elizabeth Walton

The youngest of the Walton family, Elizabeth Walton, was portrayed by Kami Cotler, who was only six years old when the show started. After the immense success of The Waltons, Cotler quickly retired from the screen, went to college, and eventually became a teacher in a school in rural Virginia.

Cotler has rarely, if ever, returned to the silver screen. She did make an uncredited appearance in Mary McDonough’s film Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane, but outside a handful of reunion appearances, she tends to business outside of Hollywood. She does, however, run her own YouTube channel under her name, where she sporadically reacts to classic episodes of The Waltons.

Judy Norton as Mary Ellen Walton

After portraying the inspirational Mary Ellen Walton for all nine seasons of The WaltonsJudy Norton largely retired from the screen in favor of other creative pursuits. In addition to capitalizing on her singing voice with a handful of albums, she also spent years directing, writing, and starring in a plethora of theatrical plays in Canada.

She had several guest roles after The Waltons, such as in The Love Boat and a comedy series titled The Quarantine Bunch. Norton also put her writing talents to use and wrote a 2018 thriller, Inclusion Criteria, in which she also plays the lead role. She is now happily married with one son.

Mary McDonough as Erin Walton

The talented Mary McDonough’s first major screen role was as Erin Walton, putting her name on the map for more opportunities to come her way. After The Waltons, she gave a horror film, Mortuary, a shot, as well as a sitcom, The New Adventures of Old Christine, where she played the role of Mrs. Wilhoite.

Not only did she become a better actor, she also became an accomplished author. In 2018, her famous book Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane was produced to become a holiday film, which she also had a minor role in. Despite having success as both an actor and a writer, she stays passionate and hones her skills in writing, now focusing more on women’s health.

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Eric Scott as Ben Walton

Like Kami Cotler, Eric Scott also left the show-biz after the show ended. After portraying Ben Walton, the actor decided not to hustle for the next acting gig and went to work at a delivery company, which he eventually took over. He leaned towards becoming a family man, went through several marriages, and now owns and operates Chase Messengers, a delivery service located in California. That being said, you can find him in a handful of guest appearances throughout Family FeudCelebrity Bowling, and an ’80s indie horror film titled The Loch Ness Horror.

David W. Harper as Jim-Bob Walton

Along with several of his Waltons castmates, David W. Harper also left show-biz after the series ended. He portrayed Jim-Bob Walton for the whole nine seasons, depicting a passionate young man who dreams of becoming a pilot. He appeared in a miniseries by CBS, titled The Blue and the Gray, and had a minor theatrical role in Michael Ritchie’s mystery-comedy movie Fletchwhich was released in 1985.

After putting his acting life behind him, he went to school and studied business. Harper’s life is mainly private nowadays, though you can easily spot him throughout the numerous Walton cast reunions that have taken place over the years.

Jon Walmsley as Jason Walton

The actor who portrayed Jason Walton, Jon Walmsley, turned his career from being an actor to a musician. Though still acting here and there, his main focus has been on his music career. He has released his own songs and albums, as well as performing with several other artists, including Richard Marx, Gregg Allman, and The Doobie Brothers. Walmsley released his first full-length album in 2017, titled Goin’ to Clarksdale, inspired by his trip to the Mississippi Delta and the mixture of artists and music he grew up with.

Fortunately, if you wanted to see more of Walmsley on the small screen, Walmsley did make a few appearances in television and film before and after his role in The Waltons. Aside from an uncredited appearance that’s hard to spot in season 2 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Walmsley additionally lent his voice to Christopher Robin in Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which was released in 1977.

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Cast Members No Longer With Us

Among The Waltons stars, several have passed away over the years. Ralph Waite, who played John Walton Sr., died in 2014, aged 85. His latest roles were in NCIS as Agent Gibbs’ father, in Bones as Booth’s grandfather, and in Days of Our Lives as Father Matt. His long-running and shining career showed how multi-talented he was.

The grandparents of the Walton family, Ellen Corby as Grandma Walton and Will Geer as Grandpa Walton, also passed away. The former suffered from a stroke in 1976, which made her move away from the spotlight — after rightfully receiving three Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She passed away in 1999. The latter died in 1978 after earning himself an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Lastly, we have arguably the most crucial member of The WaltonsEarl Hamner Jr. himself. Though he served as a narrator for the series, his voice would be heard in nearly every single episode. Hamner tragically passed away in 2016, having written the screenplays for 1973’s Charlotte’s Web and several episodes of the classic Twilight Zone series, in addition to his work on The Waltons.

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