Michael Learned

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Michael Learned speaks of her early life and theatrical training. She recalls early roles on Canadian television and acting on stage in San Francisco in a production of "Private Lives" directed by Francis Ford Coppola. She discusses her iconic role of "Olivia Walton" on the classic CBS series The Waltons,  recalling how she replaced Patricia Neal who'd earlier played the role. She describes her chemistry with Ralph Waite who played "John Walton," her husband on the show. Learned outlines the various changes over the run of the show, including the declining health of Ellen Corby ("Grandma Walton"), the death of Will Geer ("Grandpa Walton"), and the departure of Richard Thomas ("John-Boy"). She speaks of leaving The Waltons and her subsequent return to television in the short-lived series Nurse. She talks about numerous guest-starring roles, made-for-television movie roles, and roles she played in various daytime dramas. Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview on November 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

"The legacy of 'The Waltons' is that it lives on in the hearts of people who responded to the message of love and forgiveness and strength. Those are good messages."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Michael Learned on her character of "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on Richard Thomas as "John-Boy" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on the death of Will Geer
Michael Learned on her decision to leave The Waltons
Michael Learned on advice to aspiring actors
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on her early interest in performing; on her early memories of television and movies
On becoming an actress; on appearing on Canadian television; on appearing in the play "Private Lives"
On being cast as "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons; on the character of "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons; on the chemistry with the children on The Waltons
On the premise and tone of The Waltons; on the production of The Waltons; on working with show creator Earl Hamner, Jr.

Chapter 2

On working with the producers of The Waltons; on The Waltons' catchphrases and the dinner table scenes
On the cast of The Waltons; on the departure of Richard Thomas from The Waltons; on the death of Will Geer
On doing publicity for The Waltons and the popularity of the show; on leaving The Waltons; on her Emmy nominations and wins for the show; on the legacy of The Waltons
On starring on Nurse; on guest-starring on Scrubs; on appearing in various made-for-television movies and guest-starring on various series including Gunsmoke

Chapter 3

On appearing on daytime dramas; on her stage work; on then-current projects
On what she likes about acting; on how things have changed for actresses since she started; on how she'd like to be remembered and advice to aspiring actors
Shows

General Hospital

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Michael Learned on appearing on General Hospital and The Young and the Restless

Gunsmoke

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Michael Learned on guest starring on television shows, including Gunsmoke

Homecoming, The: A Christmas Story

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Michael Learned on The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the made-for-television movie that served as the pilot for The Waltons

Nurse

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Michael Learned on appearing on the series Nurse
Michael Learned on winning an Emmy for Nurse

Scrubs

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Michael Learned on guest-starring on Scrubs

Waltons, The

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Michael Learned on being cast as "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the made-for-television movie that served as the pilot for The Waltons
Michael Learned on the character of "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on her chemistry with the children on The Waltons
Michael Learned on her billing on The Waltons
Michael Learned on the premise and tone of The Waltons
Michael Learned on filming the first episode of The Waltons and early critical reaction
Michael Learned on her character of "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on the production of The Waltons
Michael Learned on working with The W altons creator Earl Hamner, Jr.
Michael Learned on working with producer Lee Rich on The Waltons
Michael Learned on working with producer Rod Peterson on The Waltons; on Ellen Corby's stroke
Michael Learned on The Waltons'  catchphrases and the scenes around the dinner table
Michael Learned on Ralph Waite as "John Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on Richard Thomas as "John-Boy" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on Will Geer as "Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on Ellen Corby as "Grandma Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on Judy Norton as "Mary Ellen Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on Jon Walmsley as "Jason Walton" on The Waltons and the other Waltons children actors
Michael Learned on the departure of Richard Thomas from The Waltons
Michael Learned on the death of Will Geer
Michael Learned on doing publicity for The Waltons
Michael Learned on the popularity of The Waltons
Michael Learned on her favorite episodes of The Waltons
Michael Learned on her decision to leave The Waltons
Michael Learned on her Emmy nominations and wins for The Waltons
Michael Learned on returning to The Waltons after she left
Michael Learned on the legacy of The Waltons

Young and the Restless, The

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Michael Learned on appearing on General Hospital and The Young and the Restless
Topics

Advice

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Michael Learned on advice to aspiring actors

Characters & Catchphrases

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Michael Learned on her character of "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on The Waltons'  catchphrases and the scenes around the dinner table

Diversity in Television

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Michael Learned on how things have changed for actresses since she started acting

Historic Events and Social Change

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Michael Learned on how things have changed for actresses since she started acting

Pop Culture

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Michael Learned on her character of "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on The Waltons'  catchphrases and the scenes around the dinner table

Television Industry

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Michael Learned on how things have changed for actresses since she started acting
Michael Learned on advice to aspiring actors

Women

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Michael Learned on how things have changed for actresses since she started acting
Professions

Actress

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Michael Learned on what she likes about acting
Michael Learned on advice to aspiring actors

Performers

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Michael Learned on what she likes about acting
Michael Learned on advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Michael Learned on appearing on daytime dramas

Drama Series

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Michael Learned on playing "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons (Part 1)
Michael Learned on playing "Olivia Walton" on The Waltons (Part 2)
Michael Learned on appearing on the series Nurse
People

Francis Ford Coppola

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Michael Learned on appearing in the Francis Ford Coppola play "Private Lives"

Ellen Corby

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Michael Learned on Ellen Corby as "Grandma Walton" on The Waltons

Will Geer

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Michael Learned on Will Geer as "Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons
Michael Learned on the death of Will Geer

Earl Hamner, Jr.

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Michael Learned on working with The W altons  creator Earl Hamner, Jr.

Patricia Neal

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Michael Learned on The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the made-for-television movie that served as the pilot for The Waltons  and replacing Patricia Neal as "Olivia Walton"

Lee Rich

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Michael Learned on working with producer Lee Rich on The Waltons

Richard Thomas

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Michael Learned on Richard Thomas as "John-Boy" on The Waltons

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