Post by flossieskid on Aug 24, 2021 19:34:40 GMT -5
Was I living under a rock?!? I was cleaning up my kitchen, which safely substitutes for physical exercise in my house! Bending over and putting plates in the dishwasher, reaching high shelves and putting away a cupcake holder I used twice in the last 18 months rivals any Pilates class at your local gym. But, my TV keeps me company and I can sometimes catch my Dad on an old “Fugitive” or “Cannon” or watch my Mom on some Waltons reruns.
But, I thought maybe I was watching an unseen episode of “The Twilight Zone!” During one of the Waltons reruns, I see Olivia and John walk into a military hospital and go in the room to see their son, John Boy. WHAT?! WHO THE HECK WAS LYING IN THE BED?!?!? Unless, Richard Thomas spent a few visits on “Botched” a reality show where plastic surgeons repair previous bad surgeries, that man was NOT Richard! Thomas!!
Good grief - how did I not know this?!?!? I don’t ever remember it being mentioned at the 40h Anniversary, don’t think I saw a “People” cover story and surely it was not the subject of any “Newsweek” article! I know Richard Thomas wanted to go on to greener pastures, but WHY was John Boy recast??? After seeing “Mister X”, I googled some info and found out I was not the only one shocked beyond belief. I read where Michael Learned said that recasting John Boy was just too difficult and upsetting for her and even though she loved the show, this recast was too much for her and she decided to leave her life-changing role.
If I had watched this at the time, I think I would have had to sit Shiva - and I’m not even Jewish!! No disrespect, I just think I would have reacted to it as a death!! Please, Walton Forum - help me figure out how to come to terms with this: Was it well- received? Why was the 2nd John Boy kept out of the reunion? Whose lame brain — ah, I mean - what production executive made this casting decision?!? I don’t know if this was as bad as the new “Darrin” on “Bewitched”, but not sure my heart can take it…..please help me down off the ledge!!
Post by patriciaanne on Aug 24, 2021 20:04:39 GMT -5
LOL!!! We affectionately refer to him as "the fake John-Boy." It was a strange decision. But I guess since John-Boy was such a central character (and the narrator), they felt they had to recast. In an ideal world, they would have just had Richard come back for one or two episodes a season. But then I'm pretty sure Richard would never have agreed to that. His whole point in leaving was so he wouldn't be typecast as John-Boy. Of course, that IS his best remembered role, so how did that work out??? 😄 I saw Richard in an interview and he said if he had known back then that he was always going to be identified with the role anyway, he would have just stayed on the show. Oh, if only!!!!
But back to your question...I don't know how fans reacted back then, but I know I have trouble with those episodes. And yet, as time goes on, I've learned to appreciate them a little more. Robert Wightman is not a bad actor. He was put into an impossible situation. Ironically, Earl said in an interview that Wightman was much closer to how Earl really was as a young man than Richard.
Did you see your Mom on The Sermon today? She was a naughty girl -- gossiping with Cora Beth!! 😯😮😄
I think Cora Beth’s reaction was best. In that episode you mentioned, the first one with the new John Boy, Ike showed Cora Beth a photo of him in the newspaper. Cora Beth studied it for a moment, then said, “That’s a new picture isn’t it? I’m not sure I like it.”
I watched The Waltons during its first run in the 1970s. It was my favorite show. I never missed it. But I honestly do not remember my reaction to the new John Boy. I think I was just glad that the show had not been canceled yet after Richard Thomas left, Will Geer died, and Ellen Corby had a stroke. Over the years I’ve learned that most people think it was a bad idea to bring in a new John Boy, and I admit that I agree. It was a gimmick to keep the viewers watching, and I think it failed. I would have preferred that they attempt to keep John Boy as part of the cast, even though Richard Thomas had left, by mentioning him in some way in every episode. They could receive a letter from him or get a phone call to share what was going on in his life.
Over the years, in various interviews, I’ve heard the other cast members comment about their own reaction to the new John Boy. I think most of them felt bad for Robert Wightman who they said was a really nice person and a good actor, but he just wasn’t John Boy. One of the cast members recently commented on this in a Facebook post. I think it was Kami. She said they all tried to make him feel welcome. They invited him to eat lunch with them and included him whenever they could. That’s what I would expect of them. That’s the Walton way.
Here is the Facebook post by Kami. It was actually posted last October, but I saw it a few days ago. Kami answers her followers’ questions on Facebook.
“S Rae is curious to know how Robert Wightman was accepted by the cast. I think we were all pretty sympathetic with the difficult position Bob Wightman was in. There really wasn't a way to "replace" Richard, and the cast was pretty disappointed that the producers made that choice. None of that was Bob's fault. I remember on one of his first days Jon, Mary and I invited him out to lunch and he just seemed a little overwhelmed by the whole situation. Perfectly nice guy and he later worked with my best friend in a delightful film called "Living in Oblivion". He was a riot in that. A link to that trailer is below:
Post by JessicaGirlSpy on Aug 24, 2021 20:39:24 GMT -5
To me it's like going to a play/ musical you've been dying to see and when you finally get to the show you find out it's not your favourite actor/actress but their understudy. Quite talented but not that terrific actor you love.
Honestly, by the time Johnboy II came on board, the ratings had already declined quite a bit and a lot of people just weren’t watching the show anymore. I don’t think anyone beyond the die-hard fans even remember Johnboy II.
You mentioned Darrin Stevens in Bewitched. Dick York had to leave the show for medical reasons (serious back problems) and they brought in Dick Sargent to replace him. (Sargent, by the way, played Ben's Chief Petty Officer in 'The Outrage'.) Despite the different appearances, the characters were very-much alike whereas Richard and Robert played 2 different versions of the same character. Robert never seemed to have Richard's energy. It was very-much like Michael Gambon taking over from Richard Harris as Dumbledore without having read the books or watched the first two movies. They were 2 entirely different characters.
Still, Robert did as good a job as can be expected, but, just like Scott Hylands replacing Tom Bower as Curtis Willard, it wasn't believable.
The writing didn't help, either. I mean... the Muses? Even Richard Thomas couldn't have rescued that scene.
"As long as there's one person on earth who remembers you, it isn't over." - Oscar Hammerstein
I watched “The Premonition” the other night, and one of the plots has John Boy pursuing a romance with a young woman in Paris. It’s actually a decent episode but I couldn’t help thinking how much better it would have been had Richard Thomas been playing the role. John Boy decides to get discharged in Paris to write his new novel there, and he winds up quickly proposing to the young woman. It’s totally something that Thomas’ John Boy, a romantic, would do. And the scene at the end, where he returns home and Elizabeth runs out to meet him, again would have been more effective and emotional with Richard Thomas. Oh well.
Post by flossieskid on Aug 25, 2021 16:08:31 GMT -5
First to answer PatriciaAnne, no I did not see my Mom and Cora Beth on that show, but I vaguely remember it from years ago. It was weird, but sometimes “Flossie” was watchful and respectful, but other times she seemed a busybody. I liked the time she was keeping a watchful eye out for Esther when Zeb came by to give something to Flossie and I can’t remember the name of the character played by Pearl Schear (sp?), but she was flirting with Zeb at the boarding house and Flossies was keeping an eagle eye on them both! Cute! Side note, in real life, wasn’t Pearl’s daughter married to Ralph Waite for a few years?
As to the first Darrin on “Bewitched”, Dick York. Easton was right and Dick York had unbearable back pain (injured in a movie scene with, I think Gary Cooper) and had to quit due to a myriad of factors: besides horrific pain, he became addicted to painkillers and there was no “rehab” in the ‘60’s. Also, he suffered from terrible emphysema, too. Then, addiction was a shameful secret actors would have to hide. I remember the “Bewiched” crew built him a slant board to lean against between scenes on the soundstage so he didn’t have to go through the agony of sitting down and getting up multiple times a day.
But, several years later, after exhausting his money on health care, not being able to work, just trying to pay for his large family, he became destitute. He married his childhood sweetheart and they had 5 kids. One of the local news stations here in LA heard about Dick being down on his luck and went to his home to interview him. Dick looked dreadful: in pajamas, grey pallor, in a wheelchair and oxygen tubing in his nose, he lamented about his predicament and with sadness and shame (unnecessary!) he explained how he lives on around $750/month from SAG, a few residuals (not from “Bewitched” because it was still on the air with Dick Sargent in his role) his emphysema was getting worse and he could barely feed his family. I don’t understand why Elizabeth Montgomery and Bill Asher, her husband, director and executive producer on the series, couldn’t help him out! That show had MANY actors who became quite wealthy from their roles on the program - why couldn’t they reach out to help? I guess, sadly, because actors never know if they will get another job after the one they just finished, everyone is afraid of giving away money they, themselves, may desperately need later on in their own life.
His wife didn’t work because she had to take care of him. But before Dick was confined to the wheelchair, they cleaned houses for additional income. I think their kids helped out with newspaper routes and collecting tin cans for cash. Dick was so desperate, he said to the reporter that he would gratefully accept any donations from fans. Remember, this was years before “Go Fund Me” pages ever existed.
The reporter, at the end of the interview in the studio, emphasized Dick’s plight and encouraged anyone who could send in donations to please direct them to the news station and they would forward them on to Dick and his family. My Dad was a widower by then and we happened to see this news story together during one of my visits. He knew Dick from New York, decades before, and we were both brought to tears seeing this vibrant, proud, talented actor reduced to a very sick man, confined to a wheelchair, having trouble breathing and desperately needing money just to survive.
Of course we sent money immediately. I did include a personal note from my Dad which was quite elegant and compassionate. About 2 months later, my father received a very lovely note from Dick, remembering their shows in New York and expressing such gratitude for the money we sent. You could tell by the tone of his words, he was deeply embarrassed about his plight but his only focus was on trying to provide for his wife and 5 kids. He didn't mention his own daily agony.
I asked my Dad, how could Dick not complain about the horrible turn of events that basically destroyed his life? He had every right to wallow in self pity I thought. My Dad, who was always very wise said, “Remember, he is still a good actor.”
Those words made me so sad. His story, unfortunately is not an isolated one. Often, I think most people believe all actors are very wealthy people, leaving in mansions, driving expensive cars and having the kind of money most people envy. As this story illustrates, that is far from the reality.
^ Pearl Shear portrayed Zuleika Dunbar. She flirted with just about every man on Walton's Mountain, whether they were married or single. After 'Flossie' died after season 6, Zuleika bought the boarding house and took over for your mother.
Thanks for the details about Dick York. I never knew what a desperate situation he was in, and I had no idea he had emphysema.
"As long as there's one person on earth who remembers you, it isn't over." - Oscar Hammerstein
Post by patriciaanne on Aug 25, 2021 17:32:51 GMT -5
Oh Tracey, that is heartbreaking!! I knew about the awful back pain, but not about the emphysema.
I think you're right about people assuming movie/tv actors are wealthy. I think it's slowly changing, though. With social media, 24-hour newscycle and a relentless press that seems to thrive on bad news, I don't think there are as many secrets nowadays. My father always taught us, "Remember -- no one will love you when you're old and poor." It's something his own mother used to say to him, and was his way of telling us to be sure we put money aside to take care of ourselves. ♥️
Dick York had a terrible health challenge, which made it almost impossible for him to not fall into hard times. But when I see some of these young things running around Hollywood, blowing their money...I think about what my father said and hope that for every dollar they blow, they're saving 4 more.
Slightly off topic, but Elizabeth Montgomery didn’t like Dick York, who was attracted to her and made her uncomfortable. William Froug, who came in to produce the third season, said in an interview that at one of his first meetings with her and Bill Asher, she said, “We’ve got to get rid of him,” meaning York. Montgomery’s original contract was up at the end of the fifth season, and show insiders have said there was no way she would have renewed with York as a co-star, even if he didn’t have his back injury.