About Christmas TV History

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Waltons: The Best Christmas (1976)

The Waltons cast reunion coming up on Friday December 2, 2011 will include fourteen actors from The TV series The Waltons and the TV movie The Homecoming.  For more details: http://WaltonsHomecoming40th.com.

The TV movie The Homecoming was re-broadcast for several years after its debut in 1971.  The first Christmas episode of the TV series The Waltons arrived in its fifth season and was entitled "The Best Christmas."

Harley, John-Boy and Curt attempt a difficult rescue when Miss Fanny's car slides off the road and into the frozen pond.
As the kids grow and begin to lead their separate lives, Mama worries that this may be the last Christmas with everyone together.  The family agrees to come together and make this holiday the best Christmas for Mama’s sake.  But when a severe snow and ice storm freezes the roads on Christmas Eve, not only is the house without power but the family is stranded at different locations all over the mountain, unable to communicate their whereabouts. 

Jason (Jon Walmsley) in the church examining the damage of the downed tree.
John and Jason are helping to remove a fallen tree and repair the church’s roof so there can be morning services, while Harley, John-Boy, Curt and Mary Ellen are helping to rescue Miss Fanny and young Jo Ellen whose car went off the road and into the frozen pond. 

With all the rooms sold out on Christmas Eve, Grandma and Grandpa Walton are forced to sleep in the hotel lobby
Grandma and Grandpa Walton are stranded in Charlottesville because of the weather and icy roads while Ben is isolated at Yancy’s cabin.  The Waltons may have spent Christmas apart, but they were all in each others’ thoughts.

At long last, the family together on Christmas day.  Left: Ben (Eric Scott), Curt (Tom Bower), John-Boy (Richard Thomas), Mary Ellen (Judy Norton), and Grandpa Walton (Will Geer).
This episode includes the tender moment with the family together singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

Singing a Christmas carol together.  Left: Elizabeth (Kami Cotler), Olivia (Michael Learned), John (Ralph Waite), and Grandma Walton (Ellen Corby).
It seems everything that could go wrong with the family's plans has gone wrong--a popular theme in Christmas stories.  But this classic Christmas episode is one that stands out from the rest and remains a favorite among the series' fans.

Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner)
Another reason this episode stands out is because it includes many of the Waltons series favorite regular cast of characters including Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner), Harley Foster (Hal Williams), Verdie Foster (Lynn Hamilton), Maude Gormley (Merie Earle), the local telephone switchboard operator Miss Fanny Tatum (Sheila Allen), and the Reverend Fordwick (John Ritter).

Reverend Fordwick (John Ritter)
At the Waltons reunion on Friday, Dec. 2nd, actors Hal Williams and Lynn Hamilton will be joining the others to discuss their experiences with the much beloved Waltons TV series.  I can hardly wait.

Left: Harley Foster (Hal Williams) with John-Boy in the episode "The Best Christmas."
Verdie Foster (Lynn Hamilton) in this treasured 1976 Christmas episode