Linda Purl grew up in Japan and had trouble adjusting to American life

"There seemed to be no culture or tradition," the Matlock and Happy Days star said of the U.S.

The Everett Collection

The Waltons episode "The Spoilers" is not about spoiler alerts. No, the "Spoilers" in this case are a family of city folk who moves back to the mountain due to the Great Depression. The Hanovers may have lost their fortune, but they have not lost their taste for New York. In other words, they're a little snobby. The children, in particular, have a seemingly "bad" influence on the Walton kids. 

But not entirely. The daughter, Alicia, convinces John-Boy to move to New York to pursue his dream as a writer. That has a positive influence on his life.

The casting director found the perfect actress to play Alicia Hanover in Linda Purl. The teenage newcomer had just begun her television career. "The Spoilers" was one of three small TV roles for her in October 1974, the month that introduced her to audiences. Well, American audiences. Because Purl had begun her career in Japan, where she had spent most of her life up to that point. Her youth had been spent in Tokyo.

Purl's father was an executive with Union Carbide. When she was two, her family moved to Japan, where she became a child star. 

"For seven years, from the ages of 7 to 14, Linda had her own TV show in Japan's educational network," a newspaper profile explained in 1976. She performed on stage, notably in a Japanese production of The King and I, in which she was the only non-Asian actor. (She played Anna's son.) Toho, the iconic film studio behind Godzilla, discovered Purl and put her into motion pictures. 

In 1971, Purl returned to United States. It was not an easy adjustment. 

"I didn't like it at first," Purl admitted to the reporter. "I didn't understand my country. I found no discipline or pride or respect for teachers among my schoolmates. There seemed to be no culture or tradition."

Now you can see why casting her as a fish-out-of-water on The Waltons was so apt.

The Everett CollectionPurl in ''The Heartbreaker''

She would return to The Waltons again two seasons later for "The Heartbreaker," wherein she portrayed a musician who breaks Jason's heart.

Around the same time, Purl was playing Richie's high school girlfriend, Gloria, on Happy Days. She would return to the series later playing a different character, a different girlfriend. She was Fonzie's flame, Ashley Pfister. 

Perhaps having recurring roles on a slice of Americana like Happy Days helped condition her to American life.

"After I had been here for some time, I went back home to Japan for a visit and I found I really didn't belong there either," Purl said. "I'm not Japanese and they can't accept me as one of them."

Purl had good reason to stay in the States — she kept landing meaty roles on television. A few years after Happy Days, she played Charlene Matlock (pictured up top on the left), the daughter of Andy Griffith's Ben Matlock, on Matlock. Decades later, the tables had reversed, and she was playing the parents, notably Pam's mom (and Michael's lover) on The Office

You could say she finally found her home.

Watch The Waltons on MeTV!

Weekdays at 12 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Andybandit 39 months ago
She was good in Happy Days and Matlock. She just disappeared from Happy Days. Nice that she is dating Patrick Duffy.
UTZAAKE 39 months ago
"After I had been here for some time, I went back home to Japan for a visit and I found I really didn't belong there either. I'm not Japanese and they can't accept me as one of them." A recurring theme in The Chrysanthemum and the Bat, Robert Whiting's 1977 book about Nippon Professional Baseball and the experiences of American ballplayers in that circuit. Good article!
jonnieking 39 months ago
Okay, I'll admit it: I have been in love with Linda Purl for decades ! My late-Mother always loved Andy Griffith and we watched "Matlock" together every week. That's when I first really got to see Linda and her natural, easy, acting, her matured, adult beauty. She's actually prettier today than she was then...truly an "ageless" beauty.
AnnieM 39 months ago
This article was very interesting; I never knew about Linda Purl's career starting in Japan. I think my favorite role of hers was Deirdre O'Manion in "The Manions of America" - one of my favorite miniseries ever.
DDDDDuane 39 months ago
She was gorgeous on Happy Days and somehow still looks beautiful....
Lantern 39 months ago
She was briefly married to Desi Arnaz Jr.
MrsPhilHarris Lantern 39 months ago
That’s true!
marjean MrsPhilHarris 39 months ago
She has recently been dating Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing from the 80's TV prime time soap "Dallas").
Deleted 39 months ago
This comment has been removed.
texasluva 39 months ago
Trying not to feed the animals but it looks like we have a repeat offender. Like Baseballgirl. This site is NOT Youtube. There are rules here that everyone has to abide by. Using free speech on a site that has a list of rules to post here. It is like driving on the freeway. You have to have a licence. You can not just run into other cars at your leisure or travel 120 MPH and put not only yourself at risk but others besides. Though you will never, ever get it. It is NOT free to bully others to your non-hearts content. It is not free to walk into a store and put your face right into others and scream at will and belittle others. What is it you do not get???? You want to use free speech then stay home, look into a mirror and rant at yourself.
LaDolceVita 39 months ago
I like what you say and I think you are right. this is no place for these kind of comments. Some were very rude and vulgar. But also what is not right are those who will call people like this names and be just as rude. Name calling is for children in the schoolyard not for adults. To do so diminishes you. But I know from reading your comments that you are not like this. I hope this person learns his or her lesson and stops. This place is for having fun right?
texasluva 39 months ago
Thank you for pointing that out. It is a shame that we have to put up with such nonsense. These types usually never change. Does not matter if you are nice, mean or give them the rules. This is whom they are and not changing anytime soon. Since there was an onslaught of posters not happy with this person. Thankfully we do not have to many of these characters that show with inane responses. Usually come and go within a short period of time. That being said it could be anybody from another country or pose as a woman and its a man or juvenile wanting to rile folks up. 90+% of chat sites have closed since 2010 because of them.
39 months ago
This comment has been removed.
texasluva 39 months ago
What am I going to do about it? I am going to do nothing. I can tell you this. You look inane to everyone else on this site. You can just go on making a fool out of yourself until you get totally deleted and banned. Though I would bet you could care less what most others think about you. There are zero reasons for you to even be here other then you can. The type that wishes to ruin it for others because they can not, will not or refuse to get along with others.
DDDDDuane 39 months ago
Were you the hall monitor in junior high and later an auxiliary cop?
Barry22 39 months ago
I bet she has some great stories about working with Godzilla. (who I heard was very hard to work with).
denny Barry22 39 months ago
I heard he was a monster on the set.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?