Post by flossieskid on Feb 24, 2021 7:35:54 GMT -5
This script was written by the Executive Producers, Rod Peterson and Claire Whitaker. They were personal friends of our family and I thank them (and Earl Hamner of course) for creating this amazing script that featured my Mom. I have seen my Mom in a gazillion TV shows and movies, but her performance in “The Fire Storm” makes me cry every time I see it. I think it was her best work ever. My Mom did not speak German. My husband is a psychiatrist and had to study a foreign language for school and he chose German. So, it was quite incredible to see my husband coaching my Mom in German so her performance was authentic. Since both my parents were actors, I was always use to helping them run lines, so it was odd, but wonderful, to see my husband helping my Mom perfect her accent. Probably many of you may know that they film a scene usually 3 times: a master shot showing the two actors together doing the scene and then close ups with each of the 2 actors separately. When it came time to do the close up of my Mom, she said Richard Thomas put his arm near my Mom”a elbow(out of sight) to give her support. Then you can see at the end of her translation, “John Boy” and “Flossie” touch hands - that was not in the script, just a lovely moment between my Mom and Richard. My Mom said it was really emotional doing the scene for her. But, in one of the cutaways, as my Mom was saying the words in English you see Michael Learned crying and putting her head down. My Mom told me that every single actor on the set that day came up after the scene and told her how good she was, how it touched them or gave them chills. But my Mom said Michael Learned came up and said “ You just destroyed me, Nora. I was crying real tears. You were phenomenal!” That critique, according to my Mom, was the best compliment of all! During the 40th Waltons Fan Reunion, I didn’t know they were showing clips of the show at a fan appreciation night. But, I guess the night before, each Walton family member had their favorite scene shown. When I saw Earl the next day at the celebration, at the Ebell Theater, he told me that Judy Norton picked that final scene of “The Fire Storm” as her favorite and there was immediate applause and everyone, according to Earl, “..erupted in applause after the scene too. Oh, I wish you had been there.” So do I. But, that episode was probably the only performance by my Mom that made me forget it was my Mom. She had really turned into Flossie Brimmer! I was so proud of her then and oftentimes when I miss her and need a good cry, I put on my DVD of “The Fire Storm” and think of what a wonderful impact The Waltons had on so many - including me.
I’ve always thought of “The Firestorm” as one if the most powerful episodes of The Waltons, and your mom’s performance in that episode definitely contributed to that. Thank you for sharing these little stories about the interaction among the actors. In the first episode of Season 7, The Empty Nest, the episode that was dedicated to the memory of Will Geer, the character of Flossie Brimmer was also memorialized since your mother also passed away that year.
I can only imagine how bittersweet it is for you to see your mother on these episodes. I lost my own mother a few years ago, and just seeing her in family videos is a comfort to me.
I attended both nights of the 40th anniversary celebration in 2012, the fan reunion and the event at the Ebell Theater. What an amazing weekend that was. I feel so fortunate that I got to go.
I thought I was the only one who became verklempt as Flossie translated the words of the book in her hands. The stirring of xenophobic behavior of towns-people especially by the Reverend contributed to the impact of the campfire scene. I enjoyed Nora's portrayal of Flossie especially in this episode.
The director of The Fire Storm, Ralph Senensky wrote about his experience & thoughts working on this episode in his blog published 2009. He includes specific clips from that episode and discusses them from his perspective.
* formerly Zadok, who needed to go tend some apple trees over in Big Spruce
After rereading the original post, I must give kudos to flossieskid's husband for his tutoring of her mother, Nora. It is extremely difficult for an actor who doesn't know a foreign language to learn how speak it convincingly. One of my bosses back in the 70s was German and two of my friends were German as well. My sister and her family were stationed in Germany and my nieces learnt how to speak it quite fluently. I was convinced that Nora spoke German.
Kudo's to both Nora and flossiekid's husband for one of the most powerful and emotional moments in television history.