Michael Learned used to have Walton-themed nightmares
After she left the show, The Waltons began appearing in Michael Learned's dreams.
Although she left The Waltons as a series regular after the show's seventh season, Michael Learned was no stranger to the show afterward. She remained in the series as a guest actor and returned in subsequent Waltons programming. Still, Learned was fearful that she was no longer a member of the family.
In an interview with the York Sunday News, Learned discussed her departure from the show and the mental anguish she wasn't expecting after she had left. She said, "I felt it was time for me to leave, but I wasn't prepared for how emotional it would be. I had nightmares that they were taking a Walton family photo, and they wouldn't let me be in it. I would wake up crying."
But it hasn't always been smooth sailing between Learned and The Waltons, especially at the beginning. In an interview with The Morning News, Learned revealed that initially, she didn't believe that the show was for her. She explained, "Funny thing — in the early stages of The Waltons, I wanted out. I had difficulty making the adjustment from the American Conservatory Theatre." Still, she conceded, "Financially, the series was the best thing that ever happened to me. Professionally, too. Some persons spend their whole life in the theater and nobody ever hears of them." She also added, "I've always said I wanted to quit and do something else, but I guess I really don't mean it. I'm still here."
Still, when she spoke to the York Sunday News, Learned explained that she understood the appeal of the show entirely. She stated, "I think there's a hunger in this country for that type of family. People are longing for the security where you knew your neighbors, where you didn't have to lock your doors, and where someone's word was good enough."
Moreover, even if Michael Learned was fearful that she'd be forgotten by the Waltons, the fans certainly had no intention of allowing that to happen. She said, "People still come up to me and say 'I grew up watching you. I loved you and I still do." She added, "I felt privileged that people loved the show."