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Apr 29, 2024 9:00:00 AM

Meet the Waltons: The Newest Faces coming to Great American Pure flix

For Mother’s Day and beyond, you’ll start to see some new faces around here at Great American Pure Flix: the Waltons family.

Before you watch their movies in our collection, we thought we’d introduce you to the whole family!

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Who are The Waltons?

“The Waltons” actually started as a historical  television series that created reunion movie specials with their same characters. The series itself was about a large family in a fictional mountain community - called Waltons Mountain - in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II (from 1933 to 1946).

The Walton family consists of seven children, the eldest being John Walton Jr., his parents John and Olivia Walton, and paternal grandparents Zebulon and Esther Walton. John Walton Sr. manages a lumber mill to provide for his family with the help of his sons.

The small community named after their property is also home to folk of various income levels who we’ll meet at various times throughout the movie reunions. Along with their community, the Waltons navigate the ups and downs of life living through the tumultuous time of the Great Depression.

Did You Know?

The show’s creator based the Walton family on his own family members and the town where he grew up himself! Earl Hamner Jr. based the character of John-Boy after himself. In fact, Hamner narrated the show, as the adult John-Boy.

Let’s get to know each of the iconic Walton family members a little more.

John Walton Jr. “John-Boy”

Lovingly called John-Boy, is the eldest Walton child to John and Olivia. We meet him at the ripe age of 15 when the series first starts, and most of the series is told through his perspective. 

He is very family-orientated and has a special relationship with his brothers and sisters, but can be stubborn and independent, choosing to stand up for what’s right many times. He has a passion for writing, which leads him to pursue a career in journalism. He moved to New York City to further his career. 

Actor Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy, recently talked about how playing John-Boy had an impact on him.

“I felt very privileged to play John Boy because I felt [that] this is attributed to Earl (Hamner Jr.) not to me — I just have the opportunity to play the part,” he said. “I think there was a sort of subversive quality to John-Boy that I was very much aware of.”

grandparent waltons

John Walton Sr.

The family patriarch, John Sr., has a deep love for his family and community. If either feels threatened, John Sr. is the first one to stand up and protect them. He encourages his children to pursue their passions, and can definitely be seen as the more lax parent compared to his wife. Though he is relatively laid back, he is hard-working and diligent in his responsibilities.

Actor Ralph Waite recently discussed how playing the role of John Sr. made him clean up his own act in his personal life. Having struggled with alcoholism and addiction, he ended up following his own character’s lead by becoming a better paternal male role model.

“It wasn't easy to have my role as a father figure be merely supportive to Richard Thomas' part of John-Boy. But that's the way the show was developed — and it was a situation I had to learn to live with. Managing that feat helped me grow, helped me mature. So did being thrown into a situation where I had to deal with a whole 'family' of people on such an intimate level for so long."

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Olivia Walton

Olivia is the perfect picture of a family matriarch: loving, sweet, compassionate, religious — who would do anything for her family and home. Often opposite of her husband’s lax parenting style, she’s the one who instills discipline and manners in the Walton children.

Over the course of the series, Olivia changes from being strict and doting to allowing her children to grow and make their own decisions. Actress Michael Learned who played Olivia recently reflected on her character’s growth over the course of the series.

"The character has changed; she participates more. The first two years I did a lot of coffee pouring and telling children to go to bed. She's a little less rigid now, has a few more weaknesses and strengths, and more of a point of view."

Zebulon Walton

“Zeb” Walton is John Sr’s father, husband to Esther, and the grandfather to all seven of the Walton children. He works with John Sr. at the family lumber mill, and has a knack dispensing his decades of wisdom as needed through his stories and advice. 

Actor Will Greer who played Zeb passed away in 1978 when the show was still airing. The show decided to not hire a replacement, so his character, Zeb, passed away in the sixth series of the season. Greer was seen as a real grandfather to the children both on set and off the set, telling stories of his life to entertain and encourage them to pursue their passions.

"I'm trying to get the kids on the show to learn a poem a day to train their memory," Geer said earlier this year. "Then they can remember lines when they grow old like me and still hold a job."

Esther Walton

Esther is John Sr’s mother, wife of Zeb, and grandmother to all seven Walton children.

At first look, Esther can be seen as a very strong, independent and determined woman, but once you get past her hard exterior, she is very religious and loves her grandchildren - and her entire family - dearly. She helps with all the errands around the house, including the cooking, cleaning and laundry.

Ellen Corby, who played Esther, remembers her time on the show as being grandmotherly not only on camera, but off camera as well. Having no grandchildren of her own, she treated the younger actors as such.

"I live alone and never had a family of my own. These children on the show are like my own grandkids and I really AM the grandma around here. I'm so darned proud of that," said Corby.

waltons wedding

Jason Walton

Jason is the second oldest Walton child, being two years younger than John-Boy. Though he and John-Boy sometimes fight, they have a very close brotherly bond. Jason is friends with everyone - he is very easygoing, patient, kind, and calm, even in a crisis.

While John Sr. expects Jason to work at the mill after John-Boy leaves for college, Jason enjoys making music, choosing to study music at the Klineberg Conservatory.

Mary Ellen Walton

Mary Ellen is the eldest daughter and third oldest of the Walton children. Known as a tomboy during her younger years, Mary Ellen becomes a nurse. Mary Ellen is often the voice of reason among the Walton children.

She marries Curt Willard, a doctor who comes to live on Walton Mountain. Together, they have one son, John-Curtis. Curt later goes off to be a medic in the army and Mary Ellen learns of his passing at Pearl Harbor.

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Erin Walton

Erin is the second eldest daughter and fourth child in the Walton family. Described as having a flirtatious personality, she is very kind and outgoing, with the tendency to gossip with her sisters, especially Mary Ellen. Unlike her older siblings, she’s unsure of what she wants to do after graduating high school, before becoming a telephone operator and manufacturing supervisor.

Erin’s wedding to Paul Northridge is told in the movie, “A Wedding on Walton’s Mountain,” which is coming to Great American Pure Flix this summer!

Ben Walton

Ben is the third eldest son and fifth child in the Walton family. Always the schemer and entrepreneur, he’s often bailed out by his father or John-Boy in fast attempts to make some money. Ben runs the mill with his father before enlisting in the Navy.

Ben eloped with Cindy Brunson without telling his family, bringing her back home to Walton Mountain to continue running the mill with his father. They have two children: Virginia and Charlie.

James-Robert Walton

“Jim-Bob” is the youngest Walton son and sixth youngest Walton child. Often depicted as “having his head in the clouds,” Jim-Bob is actually very skilled in mechanics - he’s even built his own car from pieces he found in the junkyard. Having a passion for aviation, he ultimately joins the Air Force. 

Elizabeth Walton

The youngest child of the Walton family, Elizabeth is outspoken, sensitive, and shares her eldest brother, John-Boy's love for reading and writing. Elizabeth looks up to all of her brothers and sisters for advice as she matures throughout the series. Elizabeth befriends Aimee Godsey, a distant cousin and the adoptive daughter of Ike and Corabeth Godsey, who is a welcomed guest into the Waltons family and community.

“Mother’s Day on Walton’s Mountain” is available on Great American Pure Flix starting this Friday, May 3. Be on the lookout for more Waltons family movies coming soon!


Marissa Zimmet

I was born and raised just across the bay from Tampa, Florida (Go, Lightning!) and attended college at ECU in Greenville, North Carolina. I am a devout Catholic and am active in my parish in Charlotte, North Carolina. Outside of work, I love to run, hike, watch movies and hockey, and spend time with my dog, Rose, and my cat, Toasty, who are both rescues.