This actress appeared in both The Waltons and the movie Spencer's Mountain

Virginia Gregg was in two adaptations of Earl Hamner's childhood.

"As an average TV fan, does the name Virginia Gregg mean anything to you? It didn't to me, and I discovered I'd seen her in about 15 TV films within the past year." So writes Charles Witbeck in 1959 article for The Decatur Daily Review.

In his profile of the prolific character actress, Witbeck relates how often Gregg could be seen on television at the time. She continued to appear on screens big and small through the 1980s. She also lent her voice to many radio programs. In fact, she was in both the radio and TV versions of Gunsmoke, Dragnet and Have Gun – Will Travel.

For an episode of the 1950s TV iteration of Dragnet, she prepared for her role as a drunk by having a few drinks the night before the shoot then waking up at 4:00 a.m. the morning of her scene. As Witbeck wrote for his Decatur Daily Review story, "When she got up she looked terrible – who wouldn't!"

Gregg told Witbeck that she was often cast in a certain type of role. "When casting people have a call for a woman who looks like the wrath of God," says Virginia, "I'm notified."

That description holds somewhat true, though a bit overblown, for her role in the two-hour Waltons episode "The Ordeal." Gregg plays Ada Corley, a rough-around-the-edges mountain woman who regards modern ways, including medicine, with suspicion. Ada prefers to concoct her own natural remedies using herbs and other plants. She becomes one of many people who try to help the youngest Walton child, Elizabeth, regain the ability to walk after she breaks her legs in a fall.

Gregg had a small role in the previous Waltons episode "The Fledgling" as well. She played the owner of a boarding house. But she was also in an entirely different version of The Waltons altogether.

The first screen adaptation of the life of writer Earl Hamner Jr. was the 1963 movie Spencer’s Mountain starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O’Hara and James MacArthur. It was inspired by Hamner's book of the same name.

Like The Waltons, the film followed a large family living in the mountains and focused on oldest son Clay's efforts to go to college. One character in the film who encourages Clay is schoolteacher Miss Parker — played by Virginia Gregg.

In a departure from the unpleasant roles she most often played, Gregg gave an uplifting performance as the teacher who saw Clay's potential and knew he was destined for the big city.

Gregg wasn't the only person to appear in both adaptations. Actor Victor French, known for starring alongside Michael Landon in the 1980s drama Highway to Heaven, had a small role as one of the Spencer brothers in Spencer's Mountain. Years later, he appeared as blacksmith Curtis Norton in a season-two episode of The Waltons.

The similarities between Spencer's Mountain and The Waltons onscreen are obvious but it's interesting to know they had connections behind the scenes as well.

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Mblack 12 months ago
Victor French was the blacksmith once on the Waltons. The first appearance of the character was played by Ned Beatty
Taofledermaus 47 months ago
Virginia Gregg was VERY busy as a voice actor for old time radio shows, playing characters in the MANY detective shows in the 40's and 50's but also westerns like Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel. She was Richard Diamond's girlfriend Helen Asher. If you are a fan of OTR, you'll hear her name in the credits very often!
KSquared 47 months ago
I also liked watching another character actor, Bert Mustin. He frequently appeared on the Jack Webb TV shows; he was another one of Webb's favorites.
47 months ago
Jack Webb loved him some Virginia Gregg. She was a regular on Dragnet.
JohnBates Pilaf 47 months ago
She showed up on Adam-12 and Emergency a few times as well.
eurogenes 47 months ago
Love Virginia Gregg. A great working actress from the golden age of television. She deserved more accolades than she received. A true professional.
Robertmayer143 47 months ago
Gregg also appeared an many radio shows in the 40's and 50's
JZ6030 47 months ago
Virginia is awesome! She’s in all my favorite shows, 7 episodes of Gunsmoke, 4 episodes of Perry Mason, multiples on Cannon and Mannix and even appeared on Kung Fu. Her spirit still lives on through TV. God bless Virginia.
ELEANOR JZ6030 47 months ago
She was also on Dragnet multiple times. She occupied a very nice niche in Hollywood. She kept working, was never tied down to a series, and could go to the grocery store without being mobbed or asked for an autograph.
MaryMitch 47 months ago
She looks younger without the harsh makeup.
Moonpie 47 months ago
And in one of my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone, "The Masks"
JewelsChuck 47 months ago
She was on the show Hazel and played a teacher and on a different episode she played someone’s snooty wife who ends up cheerful at the end. She’s a great actress who I’ve seen in many show’s.
Wiseguy JewelsChuck 47 months ago
"shows," no apostrophe in plurals.
eurogenes Wiseguy 47 months ago
Make you feel good?
MrsPhilHarris 47 months ago
She is one of those actresses I recognize but don't remember their name. She did a lot of old time radio and lots of movies.
Deleted 47 months ago
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Dlawson 47 months ago
I agree with you and noticed that Virginia Gregg was among that list of go-to actors! Dragnet has always been a favorite of mine, and I see it regularly here in Detroit, where I can pick up the show in syndication over the air. Just this morning, lo and behold, an episode ran featuring Virginia Gregg! I've seen her in several movies, as well as other TV shows, and I must say she was versatile and talented -always portraying a different type of character.
Fuming 47 months ago
Dragnet is on MEtv every morning but it's on pretty early, even so I do catch an episode now and then. I've seen this actress as both the villain and victim on the show. Theres also an actor thats on a lot. When you can see episodes everyday its very noticable and actuslly somewhat distracting (at least for me)
Taofledermaus 47 months ago
Is it just me or did Dragnet turn into a weekly Jack Webb lecture-fest about season 3?
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