Will Geer would make up lines on the set of The Waltons

Geer loved to improvise.

Warner Brothers

Since he began appearing on The Waltons, Will Geer has been thought of as America's Grandpa. While that may not seem like a highly coveted position to some people, Geer became both an icon and an idol when he began appearing on the series

Grandpa Walton was kind and wise, always able to give advice to a grandchild who needed it the most. Granted, more times than not, that grandchild was John-Boy, who got into more scraps than the average kid, but Grandpa Walton was quick with an even hand and a genial face.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a viewer who didn't watch The Waltons and wished that Zebulon was their grandfather.

In an interview with The Gannett News Service, Geer revealed that he was both a grandfather on and off screen, though he was much less interested in acting as a patriarch to his own grandchildren.

"I have only three grandchildren in real life," Geer said. "I tell my family one of the reasons I work so much is to get away from home so I won't have to babysit my own grandchildren. So what do I do? I get a job in a series where I have seven grandchildren."

However, Geer was proud of his experiences on the set of The Waltons and made sure to express that often.

"What more could an old gentleman ask for than a series with seven grandchildren," Geer said. "You just have to live long enough, and in pictures, you get around to doing everything." 

In fact, one of Geer's favorite things to do on set was engage in some improvisation during shooting, a practice he took up from an acting coach to keep him on his toes. While it undoubtedly made Geer a quick-thinking and talented actor, not everyone was thrilled.

"Even today, I sometimes make up lines," he said. "It drives the script-girl bananas."

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4 Comments

Scott76112 11 days ago
Will Geer was a Communist. Whenever my Dad would see him, Dad would say, "Noted commie actor, Will Geer." It became a kind of running joke around our house.

Dad fought against communists in Korea, and had no patience with that whole ideology, though in his later years he could at laugh about it ... a little.
Avie 14 days ago
"Grandpa Walton was kind and wise, always able to give advice to a grandchild who needed it the most. Granted, more times than not, that grandchild was John-Boy, who got into more scraps than the average kid, but Grandpa Walton was quick with an even hand and a genial face."

John-Boy did NOT "get into scraps" (which are fights; I think the author meant scrapes, but that isn't accurate, either). What the series DID present him with is a great many moral conundrums that he was forced to sort out, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not, but learning from them either way.
Wiseguy70005 14 days ago
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a viewer who didn't watch The Waltons and wished that Zebulon was their grandfather."

The word "didn't" should come before "wished" not before "watch." Makes no sense the way it's written.
WGH 17 days ago
Much more likely he couldn't remember his actual line.

As we get older, our ability to memorize new things become much more difficult.
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