Ellen Corby was everyone’s grandma on the Waltons set
“I really am the grandma around here,” she said.
Anyone who grew up in the 1970s knows how special it was to see a character like Grandma Walton on TV. Though stern and stubborn sometimes, her generous nature always won out. You could practically smell the hearty home cooking every time she worked in the big Walton’s kitchen and her good-natured bickering with Grandpa Zeb never failed to amuse. She was the grandma every '70s kid wished they had.
For seven lucky children, that wish was a reality — in a way. Ellen Corby, the talented actress who portrayed Grandma Walton onscreen, was a surrogate grandma to all the child actors on set.
In a 1973 interview with The New York Times she said, "These children on the show are like my own grandkids, and I really am the grandma around here."
Corby never had grandchildren of her own but she got the chance to fill that role, literally and figuratively, during her time acting in The Waltons.
She added that, "This show is what I've ALWAYS wanted." She feared that she might not get the role. "I never finished the role on The Homecoming [the CBS made-for-TV movie that served as the series pilot]. I got sick and wound up in the hospital in surgery. I was afraid the producers wouldn't want me back. After all, I had caused them a great inconvenience, delayed production, and didn't seem very healthy."
Thankfully, that was not so. The cast of the beloved family show were all very close and there was a real familial rapport that is plain to see in each episode of the series.
While not everyone could have their own Grandma Walton, it’s good to know at least some did!