Richard Thomas remembers the moment he chose his seat at The Waltons dinner table
"This is our home. This is our dinner table. And this is where we sit."
We've watched The Waltons gather around the dinner table so many times, it likely any fan could construct a family seating chart from memory. Behind the scenes, it's still a mystery how each family member ended up in the seat we watched them occupy again and again throughout the series run.
However, Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy, told the Archive of American Television, "I forget how we exactly chose our seats, although it might have been our first director figuring out where they wanted everybody to be. But I remember choosing mine."
The actor then explained that as a fan of Will Geer, who played the grandfather, he jockeyed to position himself right at Geer's elbow. In hindsight, he shared with a laugh, this was a "rookie mistake."
"Because I was so fond of Will, I made the incredibly naïve mistake of placing myself [by] Will Geer," Thomas explained, then pointing out that young Kami Cotler, who played Elizabeth, ended up right across from him. With Cotler, who Thomas describes as "an adorable and beautiful child actor" across from him drawing the camera and "scene-stealing" Geer right beside him, Thomas joked, "It’s a wonder that I managed to survive, that I was even noticed in any of those scenes, between Kami and Will."
Of his choice to sit by Geer, in hindsight, Thomas laughed and said, "It was just insane that I did that." (So next time you're watching, be a good fan and pay extra attention to John-Boy during dinner!)
In the interview, Thomas then went on to describe a common mistake that directors made coming into the show as outsiders.
"There would be directors who would come in for the first time, and they could come to a dinner scene and have it all figured out in their heads," Thomas said. "But they’d have everybody sitting in different places. And we always had to say, 'You can’t do that.' Because this is where we sit. This is our home. This is our dinner table. And this is where we sit."
It's incredibly common for families to develop "assigned seats" at the dinner table, Thomas said repeatedly in the interview, explaining that these dinner scenes were "at the heart of the show."
Did you family have "assigned seats" at the dinner table like the Waltons? Where did you sit?