Waltons Reunion 2011 – The Waltons will have a cast reunion in Jersey City for the 40th anniversary of the TV movie that started it all, “The Homecoming.”
In addition, for the first time in 30 years, all the kids from the TV classic will there – including Judy Norton (Mary Ellen), Jon Walmsley (Jason), and Richard Thomas (John-Boy) – and seven other cast members are expected to attend a screening of “The Homecoming” at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Jersey City. Walmsley said this will be their first complete reunion in 30 years.
The movie focuses on the family’s Christmas wish for their father, who has been unable to find work locally due to the Great Depression, to get home in time for Christmas despite snowstorms and bus crashes.
While most people know Ralph Waite and Michael Learned as the heads of the Walton family from the show, the movie – which became the show’s pilot – starred Andrew Duggan and Patricia Neal, who will be honored at the event after passing away in August of lung cancer.
Norton said that Learned’s warm yet tough portrayal of Olivia Walton found its roots in Neal’s portrayal.
“There was a little bit of a grittier feel to ‘The Homecoming,'” said Norton, noting their more ragged costumes and darker cinematography. “Patricia’s portrayal was a little more of woman who had been through tough times. You could feel her heart and soul, but you definitely got the sense of a woman who has struggled.”
Norton said that people still relate to the series’ tale of family coming together through though times.
“(The show) really evoked a community feel. When a neighbor was in trouble or there was a problem in the community, everyone came together.”
Both Norton and Walmsley agreed that the cast’s ability to bond on-screen and off helped make the show such a big hit.