Ellen Corby ''adopted'' Jon Walmsley as her grandson

Most grandparents don't play favorites, but it's clear who Grandma's favorite Walton kid was.

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When "Grandma Comes Home" from the hospital on The Waltons, it was also a recovery for the actor Ellen Corby, who played Grandma and had previously suffered a stroke.

The whole family was glad to have Grandma back on the mountain, but behind the scenes of the show, it's likely that "Jason" actor Jon Walmsley was grinning the biggest upon Corby's return to good health.

Although all the kids on the show called Corby "Grandma" on and off camera, Walmsley and Corby developed a very sweet bond that was a bit deeper. In interviews throughout the Seventies, both Walmsley and Corby confirmed that they had "adopted" one another as family.

"Jon has no grandparents," Corby explained to the Florence Morning News in 1974. "I have no grandson, so we've more or less adopted one another."

That same year a TV news bulletin ran in The Tampa Bay Times, noting that Walmsley had fallen "very ill from we don't know what" and he was sad he "couldn't be in Atlanta with his adopted grandmother Ellen Corby."

For more proof, there's an adorable photo in this 2005 biography, Earl Hamner: From Walton's Mountain to Tomorrow, showing Walmsley and Corby with Hamner at the 1975 Emmy Awards. By all appearances, Walmsley was Corby's date when she won the Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Other news stories show the pair frequently together, seemingly inseparable, a supportive grandmother and grandson.

For Corby, she had lost her husband before The Waltons started, but it was the loss of her mom in 1963 that perhaps left the biggest void in her life.

"My mother was the most important person in my life," Corby said. "A great deal of me disappeared with her. I started to search for something to sustain me, something to cling to, something to enable me to return to my purpose in life, to be creative."

Walmsley became a support system for Corby, just as she did for him. They often traveled and attended events as a duo.

For Corby and Walmsley the significance of their adoption of one another deepened as they continued showing their sincere commitment to one another over the years. This was a special bond even on The Waltons, a show where the whole cast famously became close.

"I've enjoyed watching the children in the series grow," Corby told The Journal Times in 1976.

Yet, when Corby was talking to the Florence Morning News, the reporter noted that Corby's "face lit up in typical grandmother fashion" when the conversation turned to Jon.

Let it be known that while most grandparents don't play favorites, it's clear which Walton kid was Grandma's pride and joy.

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L 2 months ago
I take issue with this. While it is true that Ellen Corby had no grandson, Jon DID have grandparents even though he never knew them.

We ALL have Grandparents.

In fact I have eight grandparents...four from adopted family, and four from biological family.
3 months ago
I've always loved Ellen Corby, a luminous, excellent actress. She was hilarious as "Hubcaps Lesh," and the ditzy inmate in the movie, "Caged," adorable as the naive "Trina" in "I Remember Mama," and absolutely unforgettable as Grandma Walton. RIP, Ellen Corby.
L Pilaf 2 months ago
Watch her in The Big Trees. She's the maid in Little Woman (40s version).

You can recognize that scratchy voice anywhere.
Andybandit 3 months ago
Cute story. That was such a nice thing that Ellen did.
Pacificsun 3 months ago
I've wanted to leave this comment for a long time, addressed to the MeTV writing staff. Some of us have access to quite a few retro TV channels. But your stories (which we can only read here about so many of these classic shows) are what makes them even more enjoyable to watch!

Writing is hard work. People who don't do it, don't believe that. But as a team you'all continue to find new stories and angles out there. I've been following for a long time, and your website has just gotten better over time.

Thank you again.
Pacificsun 3 months ago
Such a nice story to hear! Thank you for writing it, MeTV Staff!
SheriHeffner 3 months ago
I loved this. I always loved Ellen Corby in The Waltons and every other show she was on. I was so happy when Grandma returned to The Waltons and loved seeing her in the teunion movies in the following years. I was sad when Ellen passed away.
LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Heartwarming story, and in true MeTV style "Grandma Comes Home" is on in a couple of days.
stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
Reading this touching story, reminds me of the Partridge Family. Ray Bolger told Suzanne Crough that she could call him "Grandpa," because she didn't have any grandparents (or just a grandpa,) of her own. I don't recall reading whether or not Rosemary DeCamp allowed Suzanne to call her "Grandma."
I never knew that. Ray was my favorite actor as a child. I would loved to have had him as an adopted Grandfather.
L stephaniestavr5 2 months ago
Just because you don't know who you're grandparents are, or they died before you was born, DOES NOT mean you don't have grandparents.
harlow1313 3 months ago
This is a warm story, but Corby will always be the thieving Hubcaps Lesh.
birddog 3 months ago
Great Story! I never knew that about the two of them. Just cements more of how very well the Walton's Saga was. I can relate to how Ellen felt when she lost her Mother! There is a big Void :(
stephaniestavr5 birddog 3 months ago
Yes, I know all too well the void that can be had/felt when one's mother is no longer alive. I felt like that for a long time when my mother died. She was my only reason for getting up each day, because I knew she needed my help. My sister was alive, sure, but was not any help. She couldn't be, as she was battling, (unsuccessfully,) breast cancer. It took a long time to not feel like there wasn't any reason to keep living once my mom passed, but I managed. Looking back, from time to time, I still feel like it was my fault that she was getting worse. Even though I made sure she had her insulin regularly, making sure she was taking care of herself. I was unable to do what my sister would've done had she been able to: take her to her doctor's appointments. Because I never could, I felt, (still do to some degree,) feel like I was the cause of her dying when she did. But I was told, more than once, it was because of the depression she was feeling over Becky dying, that helped to contribute to her not feeling better. That "I did the best I could, under the circumstances." R.I.P. Becky, Dad and Mom. I miss you all so much!
birddog stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
Sorry for your loss!! You did nothing but comfort and assist your Mother in her time of need. One day she will tell ya how grateful she was for all you did, during her journey. Take Care and Stay Safe.
stephaniestavr5 birddog 3 months ago
Thank you birddog for your kind words, they are greatly appreciated. I know there have been times when I've "heard" from my parents and sister, so I know they are watching out for me. During the past year or so, I have been trying to get back to my Greek roots, my dad was from there, and I've (from time to time,) when I post a reply here, or elsewhere, (where applicable,) I will insert a few Greek words (With translations, of course!) I try to stay connected to him through his native language. My mom and sister, as I said, I feel their presence at various times. I thank them all now, but like you said, I will be able to thank them again. Like I said, thanks for your kind words and I wish you a healthy and safe journey on wherever the road of your life will lead/take you.
birddog stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
Thank You Kindly/and the best to you on your journey also :))
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