Friday, March 25, 2016

Earl Hamner and the "Waltons" home

Final ‘Goodnight’ for Earl Hamner

Virginia writer Earl Hamner Jr., who created “The Waltons” and “Falcon Crest,” died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 92.

He also wrote 8 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” in the 1960s.

“Spencer’s Mountain,” Hamner’s childhood-inspired 1961 novel, was turned into a 1963 movie starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.

His 1970 book “The Homecoming: A Novel About Spencer’s Mountain,” inspired by Christmas Eve 1933 when Hamner’s father was late in arriving home, was turned into “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” a two-hour CBS television movie that introduced the family, renamed the Waltons, to television viewers in 1971.

Its success led to the weekly hourlong TV series in 1972. “The Waltons” had Richard Thomas as John-Boy, the budding young writer modeled after Hamner, who did the voice-over introduction and postscript to each episode.

 “The Waltons,” which ran until 1981, won five Emmy Awards its first season, including one for outstanding drama series.

He also wrote the 1968 TV adaptation of “Heidi,” which infuriated football fans when NBC began airing the children’s classic by cutting off the final one minute and 15 seconds of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game in which the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final 75 seconds.

The eldest of eight red-haired children in a poor, Baptist family, Earl Henry Hamner Jr. was born July 10, 1923, in Schuyler, Va., a mining and milling village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hamner and wife Jane had two children, Scott and Caroline.

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