Unlike her character on The Waltons, Ellen Corby was uncertain in the kitchen

Ellen Corby couldn't handle the heat when it came to the kitchen.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Ellen Corby was known for her role as Grandma on The Waltons. Her character enjoys cooking and baking, but in real life Corby would have rather done anything else! So, any fans who expected Corby to be like her character, think again. Instead of making a batch of cookies, well, she would mainly stick to boiling vegetables or broiling meats. 

In a 1974 interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer, Corby spoke about her uncertainty in the kitchen.

"I'm the world's worst cook, but don't tell anybody," she said. 

Spoiler alert: we all know now. 

Despite Corby's cooking skills, her mother was a skilled and impressive Danish cook who spent a huge part of her life in restaurants.

"I've been a working girl since I was 19," Corby said. "My mother was a wonderful Danish cook. She even did the cooking when I was married. After I divorced, I took care of the garden, the house and the bills. She took care of me, which is lovely!"

To really understand the difference between Corby's cooking and her mom's, one of Corby's usual cookbooks was titled The I Never Cooked Before Cookbook. 

"It could have been written for a child. It gives directions like: 'Now, you start with this,'" she said. "I've actually mastered a few of these recipies!"

After her mother's death, Corby's friends would ask her, "How in the world are you going to cook for yourself?" A question that Corby would soon have to answer for herself.

"I can do simple cooking: broiled meat, steamed vegetables," she said. "I always read from that book! You should see what greath lengths I go to just to make sure I get a sauce for the ham made right!"

Corby had fond memories of her mother's cooking. 

"I grew up in a restaurant. My mother always made all the pies," she said. "I can still see them lined up in rows, everything from lemon meringue to thick apple pies. She learned to cook when she was eight. She made beautiful sauces, and she could even cook red cabbage in a way it didn't upset your stomach!"

Despite not being the hottest cook in the kitchen, Corby had another way she'd wind down during stressful days: meditation. 

"My philosophy is basically science of the mind, plus meditation," she said. "It helps me get past some of the barriers and knock off some of the roughness of the day. I'm an emotional person. Sometimes, it's hard to break through the emotional blocks we all build for ourselves."

Corby was a level-headed actress who shined in the role of Grandma, she just couldn't handle the heat in the kitchen.


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15 Comments

CoreyC 1 month ago
Ellen Corby was an accomplished actress so it is not a surprise she wasn't a good cook in real life.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Isn't that something?! Thank goodness for good moms (-:
Pacificsun Runeshaper 1 month ago



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LoveMETV22 1 month ago
A likeable actress, on the Walton's and many other roles as well.
Andybandit 1 month ago
Wow, I didn't realize Ellen didn't know how to cook that well in real life.
KJExpress 1 month ago
"Uncertain in the kitchen." That would be me. 🤭
OldTVfanatic 1 month ago
Ellen Corby wasn’t 80 in 1974. She was actually 62, 63 at the time.
KJExpress OldTVfanatic 1 month ago
I thought 80 sounded rather old.
You are correct t



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