About Christmas TV History

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Waltons Christmas Cast Reunion Recap--Part 2

Marquee on Loews Jersey Theatre
Friday, December 2 at the Legendary Loews Jersey Theatre in Jersey City, NJ was the once-in-a-lifetime 40th anniversary screening of the Christmas TV movie The Homecoming and a 13 member cast reunion from The Waltons.  I was there and a part of the event, serving as the reunion cast panel discussion moderator.  Click here for Reunion Recap--Part 1.

during my interview with David Huddleston
The week before the Dec. 2nd event was filled with activities.  On Monday, I interviewed actor David Huddleston.  David portrayed Sheriff Ep Bridges in The Homecoming and the character A.J. Covington in the first season Waltons episode "The Literary Man."  But the character actor has a long life filled with amazing roles including Jeffrey Lebowski in The Big Lebowski, Olson Johnson in Blazing Saddles and my favorite:  Santa in 1985's Santa Claus: The Movie.

David signed an 8x10 for me.
After the Waltons cast arrived in New Jersey on Thursday, all of those involved in the production went to visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial.  If you go, bring twice as many tissues as you think you will need.  It's very sad there but the Survivor Tree is inspirational.

The names of the deceased are engraved in the marble walls on both pools. Photo credit: Bootie Bell Chewning

On Friday morning, The Waltons cast appeared on the Today Show.

Friday afternoon, we had a sponsorship luncheon.  A cake decorator, Candy Repsher Knappenberger and her crew from Pennsylvania, presented an amazing cake of the Waltons home, barn, shed and truck.  Notice the lights within the cake in the windows!  It was a sight to behold and an emotional moment for everyone there.  The dedication that went in to making this cake was breathtaking.

As the lights in the cake windows go out, you can just hear "Goodnight John-Boy, Goodnight Elizabeth," etc.
Musician John Walmsley and Ellen Geer's husband, musician Peter Alsop performed a song.

I had a ring side seat for Walmsley and Alsop's humorous song
Friday night we had a red carpet arrival at the theater with limos, cameras and screaming fans for the Waltons cast.  It was exciting.

The Waltons cast exit the limos and line up for photos--I'm dead center, trying to stay out of the melee.  Photo credit: John J. Buxbaum
Waltons cast poses for photographers. Photo credit: John J. Buxbaum
 After the event, I enjoyed a relaxing dinner with Radames Pera and his wife Marsha Mann.  Of course, the conversation eventually turned to rock n' roll where we discussed the LA underground scene and Mann's band Cipher in the late 1970s-early 1980s, Sonic Youth, Love & Rockets, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Black Keys, the Killers and more.

Radames Pera and myself after the Waltons reunion

I'm with Marsha Mann after the reunion
The following day, on Saturday Dec. 3rd, a group of us went into Greenwich Village to see Richard Thomas in the off-Broadway comedy, Standing on Ceremony.  I've been to the City several times but this was my first New York theater experience.  It was amazing!  The cast included Richard Thomas, Craig Bierko, Polly Draper, Harriet Harris, Mark Consuelos and Beth Leavel.  Anderson Cooper was in the audience that night!

Richard Thomas after the performance on Saturday

Actress Harriet Harris after the performance

The whole week was whirlwind of activities and experiences.  I'm very grateful to McCastmore productions for including me in the program and allowing me to be a part of the event.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2021 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Our group after the performance. Left: Kami Cotler, Richard Thomas, Ellen Geer, Peter Alsop, Lynn Hamilton

Taking the train into the City: Left: Lynn Hamilton, Bootie, JoAnne and myself
Goofing around while waiting for our train on Saturday night: Bootie, JoAnne, and Jason.
McCastmore Productions with David Huddleston.  Left: Ray, Tim, David Huddleston and Jason.  


  1. Hello Joanna! I'm the eldest daughter of Candy Knappenberger, the cake decorator from Pennsylvania. I'm so happy to see that you went to the event and saw her cake! It was the happiest day of her life to make and present that cake for everyone at the Reunion. She was so worried to make it absolutely perfect and she worked so hard to create such a beautiful, nostalgic piece of art.

    - Abby-Rae Knappenberger