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."

Highlights
Earl Hamner on the inspiration for The Waltons
07:46
Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:22
Earl Hamner on how Ellen Corby's stroke was handled on The Waltons
01:45
Earl Hamner on how the "Goodnight John Boy" trademark came into being
00:38
Earl Hamner on the idea that sparked the creation of Falcon Crest
01:25
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
18:43
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
09:53

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
12:55
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
16:02

Chapter 3

On teleplays he wrote for The Twilight Zone
15:21
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
12:47

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
09:43
On the genesis of The Waltons; on the TV movie The Homecoming; on how The Homecoming developed into the TV series The Waltons
18:56

Chapter 5

On the casting process for the The Waltons
17:06
On the children cast on The Waltons; on how cast changes were handled on the show
11:41

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
13:59
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
08:01
On his association with Lorimar; on writing the script for the 1973 film Charlotte's Web; on creating the show Apple's Way
05:59

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
13:00
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
07:37
On his involvement with the show Brewster Place; on producing Snowy River: The McGregor Saga; on producing an episode of Masterpiece Theater for PBS
09:57

Chapter 8

On then-current projects and hobbies; on his favorite projects from his career; on his writing style
09:05
On his writing mentors; on how he'd like to be remembered
01:58
Shows

ABC Stage 67

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Earl Hamner on an episode he wrote of ABC's Stage 67
01:30

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
01:07

Andy Griffith Show, The

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Andy Griffith Show
01:07

Apple's Way

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Earl Hamner on creating the show Apple's Way
01:14

Boone

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Earl Hamner on writing for the TV show Boone
02:40

Brewster Place

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Earl Hamner on working with Oprah Winfrey on the TV show Brewster Place
02:39

CBS Playhouse

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Earl Hamner on working on CBS Playhouse: "Appalachian Autumn"
01:23

Falcon Crest

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Earl Hamner on the idea that sparked the creation of Falcon Crest
01:25
Earl Hamner on the casting of Falcon Crest leads Jane Wyman, Robert FoxWorth, Susan Sullivan and other cast members
01:54
Earl Hamner on a favorite scripted moment from Falcon Crest
00:42
Earl Hamner on a lawsuit that was filed against Falcon Crest regarding a similarity in concept to another project
03:10
Earl Hamner on a comparison of elements in Falcon Crest to his previous series The Waltons
00:30
Earl Hamner on being amazed by the cast he had on Falcon Crest
00:40
Earl Hamner on why he left Falcon Crest mid-run
01:14

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
02:43

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
04:58

Homecoming, The: A Christmas Story

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Earl Hamner on the genesis of The Waltons and creating the "Homecoming" special
12:39
Earl Hamner on bringing The Waltons to television and creating the "Homecoming" special
06:01

Interns, The

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Earl Hamner on working on the outline for the TV show The Interns
00:30

Invaders, The

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV show The Invaders
00:58

Kate Smith Hour

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show The Kate Smith Hour
01:27
Earl Hamner on his Twilight Zone script that was first used as an episode on The Kate Smith Hour
00:41
Earl Hamner on his script "The Hunt" for The Kate Smith Hour
00:27

Long Hot Summer, The

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Earl Hamner on writing the pilot for The Long, Hot Summer
01:45

Masterpiece Theatre

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Earl Hamner on producing an episode of Masterpiece Theater for PBS
03:35

Nanny and the Professor

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV show Nanny and the Professor
00:46

Snowy River: The McGregor Saga

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Earl Hamner on producing Snowy River: The McGregor Saga
03:43

Today

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows
04:33

Twilight Zone, The

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Earl Hamner on writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:22
Earl Hamner on his work on teleplays for The Twilight Zone
17:36
Earl Hamner on his script "A Piano in the House" for The Twilight Zone
01:03
Earl Hamner on his script "Jess-Belle" for The Twilight Zone
03:34
Earl Hamner on his script "Ring-a-Ding Girl" for The Twilight Zone
02:15
Earl Hamner on his script "You Drive" for The Twilight Zone
02:26
Earl Hamner on his script "Black Leather Jackets" for The Twilight Zone
01:18
Earl Hamner on his script "Stopover in a Quiet Town" for The Twilight Zone
01:38
Earl Hamner on his script "The Bewitching Pool" for The Twilight Zone
02:42

Waltons, The

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Earl Hamner on the genesis of The Waltons 
12:39
Earl Hamner on bringing The Waltons to television
06:01
Earl Hamner on the casting process for The Waltons and the cast of the show
17:06
Earl Hamner on the children cast on The Waltons and how cast changes were handled on the show
11:41
Earl Hamner on producing The Waltons
19:05
Earl Hamner on his favorite episodes of The Waltons
01:09
Earl Hamner on a comparison of elements in Falcon Crest to his previous series The Waltons
01:26

Wide Wide World

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show Wide Wide World
02:57

Young Pioneers, The

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Earl Hamner on developing the show The Young Pioneers
02:00
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:22
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with actress Patricia Neal in the role of the mother
04:52
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
01:47
Earl Hamner on how the "Goodnight John Boy" trademark came into being
00:38
Earl Hamner on where sayings originated for The Waltons
00:42

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Earl Hamner on inspiration for episodes he wrote of The Twilight Zone
03:10
Earl Hamner on the inspiration for The Waltons
07:46

Emmy Awards

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Earl Hamner on The Waltons multiple Emmy wins and its resonance with viewers
00:58

Hollywood Blacklist

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Earl Hamner on the effect of the Blacklisting era
01:47

Industry Crossroads

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Earl Hamner on the effect of the Blacklisting era
01:47

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
04:58

Pop Culture

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Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:22
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with actress Patricia Neal in the role of the mother
04:52
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
01:47
Earl Hamner on how the "Goodnight John Boy" trademark came into being
00:38
Earl Hamner on where sayings originated for The Waltons
00:42

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
04:58

Television Industry

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The  Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Andy Griffith Show
01:07
Earl Hamner on the effect of the Blacklisting era
01:47
Professions

Writers

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Earl Hamner on working with Rod Serling and writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:22
Earl Hamner on why he writes
00:26
Earl Hamner on being known as a homespun, folksy writer
00:37
Earl Hamner on his writing style
03:17
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Earl Hamner on an episode he wrote of ABC's Stage 67
01:30

Comedy Series

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Andy Griffith Show
01:07

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The  Alfred Hitchcock Hour
01:07

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
01:54

Drama Series

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show The Kate Smith Hour
01:27
Earl Hamner on writing for the show It's a Man's World
03:15
Earl Hamner on writing the pilot for The Long, Hot Summer
01:45
Earl Hamner on the genesis of The Waltons
12:39
Earl Hamner on the casting process for The Waltons and the cast of the show
17:06
Earl Hamner on the children cast on The Waltons and how cast changes were handled on the show
11:41
Earl Hamner on producing The Waltons
19:05
Earl Hamner on his favorite episodes of The Waltons
01:09
Earl Hamner on creating the show Apple's Way
01:14
Earl Hamner on writing for the TV show Boone
02:40
Earl Hamner on working with Oprah Winfrey on the TV show Brewster Place
02:39
Earl Hamner on producing Snowy River: The McGregor Saga
03:43
Earl Hamner on producing an episode of Masterpiece Theater for PBS
03:35
Earl Hamner on working with Sylvia Sidney on the TV drama Morningstar/Eveningstar
02:07

News and Documentary

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows
04:33
Earl Hamner on writing for the show Wide Wide World
02:57

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Earl Hamner on writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:02
Earl Hamner on his work on teleplays for The Twilight Zone
17:36

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of the TV movie The Homecoming
11:10
Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi
04:58
Earl Hamner on reuniting for six Waltons reunion TV movies
01:24
Earl Hamner on writing the TV movie The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story
02:43

Western Series

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Earl Hamner on developing the show The Young Pioneers
02:00
People

Fred Allen

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Earl Hamner on memories of listening to Fred Allen on the radio
01:20

Jack Benny

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Earl Hamner on memories of listening to Jack Benny on the radio
01:20

Edgar Bergen

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Earl Hamner on memories of listening to Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on the radio
02:14

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
03:15
Earl Hamner on working on the TV show The Interns with William Blinn
00:30

Ray Bradbury

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Earl Hamner on his introductions to Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury on Los Angeles
01:36

Fred Brogger

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with Fred Brogger and James Franciscus
04:58

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
00:27

Fielder Cook

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with director, Fielder Cook
11:10

Ellen Corby

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Earl Hamner on working with Ellen Corby on The Waltons
04:20

Bill Cosby

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Earl Hamner on working on the CBS special Aesop's Fables with Bill Cosby
00:35

Bette Davis

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Earl Hamner on meeting Bette Davis at NBC for an early Today show episode
01:22

James Dean

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Earl Hamner on working on The Kate Smith Hour with James Dean
01:27

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
01:54

Anne Francis

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Earl Hamner on the roles Anne Francis and James Best played in The Twilight Zone episode "Jess-Belle"
03:34

James Franciscus

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with Fred Brogger and James Franciscus
04:58

William Froug

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Earl Hamner on working with producers William Froug, Bert Granet and Herbert Hirschman on The Twilight Zone
00:52

Dave Garroway

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows with Dave Garroway
06:31

Will Geer

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Earl Hamner on working with Will Geer on The Waltons
03:35

Bert Granet

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Earl Hamner on working with producers William Froug, Bert Granet and Herbert Hirschman on The Twilight Zone
00:52

Harry Harris

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Earl Hamner on working with director Harry Harris on The Waltons
00:16

Herbert Hirschman

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Earl Hamner on working with producers William Froug, Bert Granet and Herbert Hirschman on The Twilight Zone
00:52
Earl Hamner on his Twilight Zone script "Jess-Belle" he wrote in a week for Herbert Hirschman
03:34

Buck Houghton

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Earl Hamner on working with Buck Houghton on The Twilight Zone
00:43

Ernest Kinoy

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Earl Hamner on working with Ernest Kinoy and other staff writers at NBC
00:39

Buzz Kulik

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Earl Hamner on his Twilight Zone script "Jess-Belle," directed by Buzz Kulik
03:34

Angela Lansbury

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Earl Hamner on working with Angela Lansbury on The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story
02:43

Michael Learned

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Earl Hamner on working with Michael Learned on The Waltons
01:37

Jack Lescoulie

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows with Jack Lescoulie
04:33

Nancy Malone

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Earl Hamner on his script "Stopover in a Quiet Town" for The Twilight Zone
01:38
Earl Hamner on actors, Edmond O'Brien, Roy Thinnes and Nancy Malone who starred in The Long, Hot Summer
01:45

Delbert Mann

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with director, Delbert Mann
04:58

Martin Manulis

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Earl Hamner on working on CBS Playhouse: "Appalachian Autumn" with director, Martin Manulis
01:23

Richard Matheson

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Earl Hamner on his introductions to Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury on Los Angeles
01:36

Kevin McCarthy

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Earl Hamner on working on the Theatre Guild on the Air with Kevin McCarthy
00:59

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
03:15

Henry Morgan

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Earl Hamner on meeting Henry Morgan at NBC for an early Today show episode
00:11

Patricia Neal

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of The Homecoming with actress Patricia Neal
04:52

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
01:45

Estelle Parsons

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Earl Hamner on working as a writer on the early Today shows with Estelle Parsons
04:33

Minnie Pearl

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Earl Hamner on meeting Minnie Pearl in Tennessee
00:38

John Ritter

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Earl Hamner on working with John Ritter on The Waltons
01:47

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Earl Hamner on an interview with Eleanor Roosevelt for the radio program Biographies in Sound
01:02

Maximilian Schell

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Earl Hamner on working on the TV version of Heidi with actor, Maximilian Schell
04:58

Rod Serling

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Earl Hamner on entering and winning the Dr. Christian contest along with Rod Serling
04:40
Earl Hamner on writing teleplays for The Twilight Zone
12:22

Sylvia Sidney

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Earl Hamner on working with Sylvia Sidney on the TV drama Morningstar/Eveningstar
02:07

Kate Smith

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Earl Hamner on working on The Kate Smith Hour with Kate Smith
01:27

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
01:54

Peter Tewksbury

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Earl Hamner on writing for the show It's a Man's World
03:15

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
01:45
Earl Hamner on working on the TV show The Invaders with Roy Thinnes
00:58

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
01:47
Earl Hamner on working with Richard Thomas on The Waltons
03:40

Oprah Winfrey

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Earl Hamner on working with Oprah Winfrey on the TV show Brewster Place
02:39

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
01:54

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