Earl Hamner, Jr.

Show Creator / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Earl Hamner, Jr. (1923-2016) talks briefly about his earliest writing credits, for shows such as Today, Wide, Wide World and The United States Steel Hour. Next, he speaks about his experiences writing for the anthology series The Twilight Zone, and discusses each of the episodes he wrote. He recalls the controversy surrounding the television movie Heidi, which he wrote, when it interrupted an important football broadcast. Hamner details his experiences as the creator of the drama series The Waltons and speaks about the creation of the program, the cast, and the show's parallels with his own childhood. He also talks about several of his later series, including Apple's Way, The Young Pioneers, Falcon Crest, Brewster Place and Snowy River: The McGregor Saga. He also describes writing the script for the 1973 film adaptation of E.B. White's beloved Charlotte's Web. Jennifer Howard conducted the interview on September 18, 2003 in Studio City, CA.

"Thomas Wolfe was my idol, and I modeled myself after Wolfe. And he too grew up in this small town. He was in North Carolina, I in Virginia, but we still had that same southerness of love of the land, love of the people, victim of history, worship of education and writing."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Earl Hamner on the inspiration for The Waltons
Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on how Ellen Corby's stroke was handled on The Waltons
Earl Hamner on how the "Goodnight John Boy" trademark came into being
Earl Hamner on the idea that sparked the creation of Falcon Crest
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on writing ever since he was a child; on studying radio at the University of Cincinnati
On winning the Dr. Christian contest; on working at a radio station in Ohio in the 1940s as a radio writer; on transitioning from radio to working in television; on working at NBC as a staff writer

Chapter 2

On radio programs he worked on at NBC; on his first writing assignments for television at NBC; on working as a writer on the Today show
On his move from New York to Los Angeles; on memories of working with the crew of The Twilight Zone; on what The Twilight Zone was about; on episodes he wrote of The Twilight Zone

Chapter 3

On teleplays he wrote for The Twilight Zone
On feedback he's received on his episodes of The Twilight Zone; on the effect of the Blacklisting era; on programs he wrote for in the 1960s; on writing a version of Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang; on an episode he wrote of ABC's Stage 67

Chapter 4

On shows he worked on in the 1960s; on writing the TV version of Heidi and the broadcast's memorable interruption of a football game
On the genesis of The Waltons; on the TV movie The Homecoming; on how The Homecoming developed into the TV series The Waltons

Chapter 5

On the casting process for the The Waltons
On the children cast on The Waltons; on how cast changes were handled on the show

Chapter 6

On narrating for The Waltons; on being a producer on The Waltons; on the writers of the show and the process of developing an episode; on his family's response to the show
On The Waltons reception by critics and audiences; on the show's multiple Emmy wins and its resonance with viewers; on fan mail he receives; on his favorite episode of The Waltons; on the end of the series and Waltons reunion TV movies
On his association with Lorimar; on writing the script for the 1973 film Charlotte's Web; on creating the show Apple's Way

Chapter 7

On developing the show The Young Pioneers; on the creation and casting of Falcon Crest; on a lawsuit that was filed against the show; on a comparison of Falcon Crest to his previous series, The Waltons; on creative control on Falcon Crest
On working on the TV movie A Gift of Love; on his memories of writing for the TV series Boone; on producing the TV drama Morningstar/Eveningstar
On his involvement with the show Brewster Place; on producing Snowy River: The McGregor Saga; on producing an episode of Masterpiece Theater for PBS

Chapter 8

On then-current projects and hobbies; on his favorite projects from his career; on his writing style
On his writing mentors; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

ABC Stage 67

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Earl Hamner on an episode he wrote of ABC's Stage 67

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Andy Griffith Show, The

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Andy Griffith Show

Apple's Way

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Earl Hamner on creating the show Apple's Way

Boone

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Earl Hamner on writing for the TV show Boone

Brewster Place

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Earl Hamner on working with Oprah Winfrey on the TV show Brewster Place

CBS Playhouse

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Earl Hamner on working on CBS Playhouse: "Appalachian Autumn"

Falcon Crest

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Earl Hamner on the idea that sparked the creation of Falcon Crest
Earl Hamner on the casting of Falcon Crest leads Jane Wyman, Robert FoxWorth, Susan Sullivan and other cast members
Earl Hamner on a favorite scripted moment from Falcon Crest
Earl Hamner on a lawsuit that was filed against Falcon Crest regarding a similarity in concept to another project
Earl Hamner on a comparison of elements in Falcon Crest to his previous series The Waltons
Earl Hamner on being amazed by the cast he had on Falcon Crest
Earl Hamner on why he left Falcon Crest mid-run

Gift of Love, The: A Christmas Story

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Earl Hamner on writing the TV movie The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story

Heidi

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi and the broadcast's memorable interruption of a football game

Homecoming, The: A Christmas Story

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Earl Hamner on the genesis of The Waltons and creating the "Homecoming" special
Earl Hamner on bringing The Waltons to television and creating the "Homecoming" special

Interns, The

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Earl Hamner on working on the outline for the TV show The Interns

Invaders, The

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV show The Invaders

Kate Smith Hour

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show The Kate Smith Hour
Earl Hamner on his Twilight Zone script that was first used as an episode on The Kate Smith Hour
Earl Hamner on his script "The Hunt" for The Kate Smith Hour

Long Hot Summer, The

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Earl Hamner on writing the pilot for The Long, Hot Summer

Masterpiece Theatre

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Earl Hamner on producing an episode of Masterpiece Theater for PBS

Nanny and the Professor

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV show Nanny and the Professor

Snowy River: The McGregor Saga

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Earl Hamner on producing Snowy River: The McGregor Saga

Today

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows

Twilight Zone, The

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Earl Hamner on writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his work on teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "A Piano in the House" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "Jess-Belle" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "Ring-a-Ding Girl" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "You Drive" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "Black Leather Jackets" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "Stopover in a Quiet Town" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his script "The Bewitching Pool" for The Twilight Zone

Waltons, The

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Earl Hamner on the genesis of The Waltons 
Earl Hamner on bringing The Waltons to television
Earl Hamner on the casting process for The Waltons and the cast of the show
Earl Hamner on the children cast on The Waltons and how cast changes were handled on the show
Earl Hamner on producing The Waltons
Earl Hamner on his favorite episodes of The Waltons
Earl Hamner on a comparison of elements in Falcon Crest to his previous series The Waltons

Wide Wide World

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show Wide Wide World

Young Pioneers, The

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Earl Hamner on developing the show The Young Pioneers
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with actress Patricia Neal in the role of the mother
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with Richard Thomas in the role of John Boy and other members of the cast
Earl Hamner on how the "Goodnight John Boy" trademark came into being
Earl Hamner on where sayings originated for The Waltons

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Earl Hamner on inspiration for episodes he wrote of The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on the inspiration for The Waltons

Emmy Awards

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Earl Hamner on The Waltons multiple Emmy wins and its resonance with viewers

Hollywood Blacklist

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Earl Hamner on the effect of the Blacklisting era

Industry Crossroads

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Earl Hamner on the effect of the Blacklisting era

Memorable Moments on Television

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi and the broadcast's memorable interruption of a football game

Pop Culture

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Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with actress Patricia Neal in the role of the mother
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with Richard Thomas in the role of John Boy and other members of the cast
Earl Hamner on how the "Goodnight John Boy" trademark came into being
Earl Hamner on where sayings originated for The Waltons

Sports

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi and the broadcast's memorable interruption of a football game

Television Industry

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The  Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Andy Griffith Show
Earl Hamner on the effect of the Blacklisting era
Professions

Writers

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Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on why he writes
Earl Hamner on being known as a homespun, folksy writer
Earl Hamner on his writing style
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Earl Hamner on an episode he wrote of ABC's Stage 67

Comedy Series

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Andy Griffith Show

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The  Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Earl Hamner on the casting of Falcon Crest leads Jane Wyman, Robert FoxWorth, Susan Sullivan and other cast members

Drama Series

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show The Kate Smith Hour
Earl Hamner on writing for the show It's a Man's World
Earl Hamner on writing the pilot for The Long, Hot Summer
Earl Hamner on the genesis of The Waltons
Earl Hamner on the casting process for The Waltons and the cast of the show
Earl Hamner on the children cast on The Waltons and how cast changes were handled on the show
Earl Hamner on producing The Waltons
Earl Hamner on his favorite episodes of The Waltons
Earl Hamner on creating the show Apple's Way
Earl Hamner on writing for the TV show Boone
Earl Hamner on working with Oprah Winfrey on the TV show Brewster Place
Earl Hamner on producing Snowy River: The McGregor Saga
Earl Hamner on producing an episode of Masterpiece Theater for PBS
Earl Hamner on working with Sylvia Sidney on the TV drama Morningstar/Eveningstar

News and Documentary

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows
Earl Hamner on writing for the show Wide Wide World

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Earl Hamner on writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his work on teleplays for The Twilight Zone

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of the TV movie The Homecoming
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi
Earl Hamner on reuniting for six Waltons reunion TV movies
Earl Hamner on writing the TV movie The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story

Western Series

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Earl Hamner on developing the show The Young Pioneers
People

Fred Allen

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Earl Hamner on memories of listening to Fred Allen on the radio

Jack Benny

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Earl Hamner on memories of listening to Jack Benny on the radio

Edgar Bergen

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Earl Hamner on memories of listening to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on the radio

William Blinn

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show It's a Man's World and other writers who wrote for the show, including John McGreevy and William Blinn
Earl Hamner on working on the TV show The Interns with William Blinn

Ray Bradbury

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Earl Hamner on his introductions to Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury on Los Angeles

Fred Brogger

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with Fred Brogger and James Franciscus

John Carradine

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Earl Hamner on the actor that played a lead role in the script "The Hunted," that he wrote for The Kate Smith Hour

Fielder Cook

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with director, Fielder Cook

Ellen Corby

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Earl Hamner on working with Ellen Corby on The Waltons

Bill Cosby

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Earl Hamner on working on the CBS special Aesop's Fables with Bill Cosby

Bette Davis

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Earl Hamner on meeting Bette Davis at NBC for an early Today show episode

James Dean

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Earl Hamner on working on The Kate Smith Hour with James Dean

Robert Foxworth

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Earl Hamner on the casting of Falcon Crest leads Jane Wyman, Robert FoxWorth, Susan Sullivan and other cast members

Anne Francis

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Earl Hamner on the roles Anne Francis and James Best played in The Twilight Zone episode "Jess-Belle"

James Franciscus

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with Fred Brogger and James Franciscus

William Froug

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Earl Hamner on working with producers William Froug, Bert Granet and Herbert Hirschman on The Twilight Zone

Dave Garroway

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows with Dave Garroway

Will Geer

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Earl Hamner on working with Will Geer on The Waltons

Bert Granet

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Earl Hamner on working with producers William Froug, Bert Granet and Herbert Hirschman on The Twilight Zone

Harry Harris

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Earl Hamner on working with director Harry Harris on The Waltons

Herbert Hirschman

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Earl Hamner on working with producers William Froug, Bert Granet and Herbert Hirschman on The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on his Twilight Zone script "Jess-Belle" he wrote in a week for Herbert Hirschman

Buck Houghton

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Earl Hamner on working with Buck Houghton on The Twilight Zone

Ernest Kinoy

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Earl Hamner on working with Ernest Kinoy and other staff writers at NBC

Buzz Kulik

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Earl Hamner on his Twilight Zone script "Jess-Belle," directed by Buzz Kulik

Angela Lansbury

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Earl Hamner on working with Angela Lansbury on The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story

Michael Learned

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Earl Hamner on working with Michael Learned on The Waltons

Jack Lescoulie

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows with Jack Lescoulie

Nancy Malone

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Earl Hamner on his script "Stopover in a Quiet Town" for The Twilight Zone
Earl Hamner on actors, Edmond O'Brien, Roy Thinnes and Nancy Malone who starred in The Long, Hot Summer

Delbert Mann

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with director, Delbert Mann

Martin Manulis

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Earl Hamner on working on CBS Playhouse: "Appalachian Autumn" with director, Martin Manulis

Richard Matheson

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Earl Hamner on his introductions to Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury on Los Angeles

Kevin McCarthy

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Earl Hamner on working on the Theatre Guild on the Air with Kevin McCarthy

John McGreevey

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show It's a Man's World and other writers who wrote for the show, including John McGreevy and William Blinn

Henry Morgan

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Earl Hamner on meeting Henry Morgan at NBC for an early Today show episode

Patricia Neal

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with actress Patricia Neal

Edmond O'Brien

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Earl Hamner on actors, Edmond O'Brien, Roy Thinnes and Nancy Malone who starred in The Long, Hot Summer

Estelle Parsons

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows with Estelle Parsons

Minnie Pearl

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Earl Hamner on meeting Minnie Pearl in Tennessee

John Ritter

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Earl Hamner on working with John Ritter on The Waltons

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Earl Hamner on an interview with Eleanor Roosevelt for the radio program Biographies in Sound

Maximilian Schell

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with actor, Maximilian Schell

Rod Serling

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Earl Hamner on entering and winning the Dr. Christian contest along with Rod Serling
Earl Hamner on writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone

Sylvia Sidney

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Earl Hamner on working with Sylvia Sidney on the TV drama Morningstar/Eveningstar

Kate Smith

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Earl Hamner on working on The Kate Smith Hour with Kate Smith

Susan Sullivan

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Earl Hamner on the casting of Falcon Crest leads Jane Wyman, Robert FoxWorth, Susan Sullivan and other cast members

Peter Tewksbury

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show It's a Man's World

Roy Thinnes

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Earl Hamner on actors, Edmond O'Brien, Roy Thinnes and Nancy Malone who starred in The Long, Hot Summer
Earl Hamner on working on the TV show The Invaders with Roy Thinnes

Richard Thomas

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with Richard Thomas and other members of the cast
Earl Hamner on working with Richard Thomas on The Waltons

Oprah Winfrey

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Earl Hamner on working with Oprah Winfrey on the TV show Brewster Place

Jane Wyman

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Earl Hamner on the casting of Falcon Crest leads Jane Wyman, Robert FoxWorth, Susan Sullivan and other cast members

All Interviews

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