‘The Waltons’: Henry Fonda Nearly Played John Walton

Classic TV shows are going through a major recovery, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Viewers of all ages turn to full-length, comfortable television shows as a way to get past more interesting entertainment, such as the daily news.

One of the most exciting TV shows of the Golden Age is television The Waltons, a show that first debuted in 1971. The series immediately became a hit and stayed on the air for nine seasons, even spawning some successful television films. The Waltons remains a mainstay for many fans, especially due to the close family relationships on display.

What are the ‘Waltons’ about?

Fans of the Walton family first met in 1971, when the film was televised Homecoming: A Christmas Story broadcast on CBS. A few months after the success of the television film, the series went live The Waltons premiered.

The show focused on the Walton family, which includes John and Olivia Walton, their seven children, and their parents. The show’s presenter is John Walton Jr., better known as “John-Boy”, as well as the main character – many of the show’s news stories follow his achievements and adventures. for the six sisters.

Set mostly during the Great Depression and later, World War II, the Waltons are shown to be humble people, always ready to help their neighbors or others in crisis. Many fans were drawn to the picture of family values ​​and love between relatives, and it became one of the most popular shows on television.

Ralph Waite played John Walton on ‘The Waltons’

In the role of John Walton Sr. was Ralph Waite, an actor who had worn many hats at the beginning of his career. Waite served in the army in the forties and worked as a social worker and a minister before becoming an actor in the early sixties. He made his Broadway debut in 1963 and was involved throughout the sixties, appearing in film and television careers.

He was thrown in The Waltons in 1971 and received praise from critics and fans for its warm, charming performance. He played John Walton throughout the series, until he went off the air in 1983. He went on to become involved in other projects but eventually decided to get into politics.

For many fans, Waite is at his best when he plays the patriarch of the John Walton family – yet, there were other actors who were considered for the role before Waite was cast.

Why did Henry Fonda turn down John Walton ‘s role on’ The Waltons’?

Jane Fonda with Henry Fonda's father
Jane Fonda with father Henry Fonda Saxon Images / IMAGES / Getty

When The Waltons it was still in the early stages of the cast, some actors with big names were considered for the role of John Walton. According to an interview with Lee Rich, the demonstrator behind it The Waltons and several other successful shows, even a Henry Fonda screen image in conversations to star as John Walton.

However, according to Rich, Fonda had little interest in the role. “We showed the pilot to Henry Fonda,” Rich said, “and then he turned to me and said: ‘Why do you want me? Family is the star. You don’t need me. ‘”

Fonda became famous in the 1940s, appearing in films such as Grapes of anger and Mo Darling Clementine. Praised for his ability to handle rough careers, Fonda worked well into his golden years, and by the early seventies, he was considered a cultural icon. .

There is no doubt that Fonda would have brought a lot of star power to The Waltons – but the reason he turned the post down is more than valid.

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