is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Earl on
March 24, 2016.
is an obituary written by Earl's devoted friend, James Person.
known as the creator, executive producer, and warm narrative
voice of the long-running television series The Waltons,
writer Earl Hamner died Thursday, March 24, in Los Angeles at
Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He was 92 and had battled cancer
for nearly two years. He is survived by Jane, his wife of 61
years, as well as his son Scott, himself an accomplished writer,
and daughter Caroline, a family counselor.
into a large affectionate family in Virginia's Blue Ridge foothills
in 1923, Hamner knew from an early age that he wanted to be
a writer. He grew up during the Great Depression, an era that
captured his imagination and later served as the time setting
of his best-known novels and TV series. After seeing active
service in the U.S. Army during World War II and then interning
as a writer for radio station WLW in Cincinnati, Hamner began
writing for radio (and later, television) programs in New York,
notably The Today Show. In 1961, with television transitioning
from live programming to film, he relocated to Los Angeles,
where he soon became a contributor of scripts to The Twilight
Zone, hosted by a man he had known at WLW, Rod Serling.
He also published the autobiographical novel Spencer's Mountain,
which was praised at length by novelist Harper Lee and adapted
to a successful film starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara.
these and his teleplays for other series, in his novels, and
in his film adaptations of Johanna Spyri's Heidi and
E. B. White's Charlotte's Web, Hamner brought a warm,
affirming sense of traditional, timeless wisdom that affirmed
love as the essential quality that makes life worth living.
He embraced William Faulkner's famous credo: "I believe
that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal
. . . because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion
and sacrifice and endurance. . . . The poet's voice need not
merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the
pillars to help him endure and prevail." Hamner kept a
typed copy of those words tacked to the wall of his office.
won the Christopher Award five times and also took home the
coveted George Foster Peabody Award in 1972 and an Emmy Award
for Outstanding Drama (Continuing) in 1973 for The Waltons.
Despite having achieved this level of success and international
recognition, he remained the real-life John-Boy Walton, never
losing his affection for the folkways, old stories, traditions,
and manners of the family united in loving community with its
members, close friends, and the larger community, living on
family land or on long-familiar ground. In his autobiographical
works of imagination especially--Spencer's Mountain,
the CBS drama Appalachian Autumn, The Homecoming,
and even the nighttime drama Falcon Crest--the past forever
flows into the present. In one of the narrations that bookended
an episode of The Waltons, Hamner wrote: "Some men
are drawn to oceans, they cannot breathe unless the air is scented
with a salty mist. Others are drawn to land that is flat, and
the air is sullen and is leaden as August. My people were drawn
to mountains. They came when the country was young and they
settled in the upland country of Virginia that is still misted
with a haze of blue which gives those mountains their name.
. . . In my time, I have come to know them. . . . I have walked
the land in the footsteps of all my fathers. I saw yesterday
and now look to tomorrow."
the end of his life, Hamner held to a personal vision of television
and motion pictures as media for affirming the better angels
of human nature, reminding his audience that the past is never
dead; it's not even past. His world of wondering boyhood and
moral imagination can never stale. In Depression-era Walton's
Mountain, in the opulence of Falcon Crest, even in the
unnerving alternative worlds of The Twilight Zone, he
created worlds to delight in and revisit time and again.
HERE to read a collection of some personal thoughts
James shared about Earl.
is a list of organizations Earl supported. He would be honored
to be remembered by a charitable gift in his name to any of
the following institutions:
Library of Virginia Foundation
East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
University of Richmond, VA 23173
National Audubon Society
Washington DC 20090-7194
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Topanga, CA 90290
Picture & TV Fund Foundation
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Writer's Guild Foundation
7000 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
I was growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during
the Great Depression, we always had friends and neighbors stopping
by. My mother or father would meet them at the door and say:
"Come on in and sit till bedtime!"
Please do that. Come on in to my website and stay as long as
you like. While you're here, let me tell you about the books
I've written, and many other publications where there are articles
that might interest you.
For over 50 years I've been working in television and have seen
it grow and change -- not always for the best -- but here I've
recorded how the industry evolved and how I took part in that
am in the process of recording my book, THE AVOCADO
DRIVE ZOO, chapter by chapter, which you can listen
to here soon. I will let you know when it is available.
there's a blog. I call it YOU
ME AND THE LAMP POST. I'll let you in on whatever adventures
I happen to fall into and also share occasional thoughts about
writing that hopefully might be useful to other writers -- beginners
be my guest. It's nice to have you here. And stay till bedtime
or as long as you like!
S. Sign up for email updates and I will let you know
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