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‘The Waltons’ Creator Earl Hamner Jr. Dies at 92

Beloved CBS Family Drama Was Based on His Real Life

“The Waltons” creator Earn Hamner Jr., who devised the series based on his real life Depression-era upbringing and is the prototype for the character of John Boy Walton, has died at the age of 92. He had been battling pneumonia.

Born on July 10, 1923 in Schuyler, Virginia, Hamner was the oldest of eight children. He was a best-selling novelist (“Spencer’s Mountain”), the author of eight episodes of the classic 1960s anthology “The Twilight Zone” and, as a screenwriter, adapted children’s tale “Charlotte’s Web,” into a hit 2006 film. He also created dramas “Apple’s Way” (1974-75), “Boone” (1983-84) and “Falcon Crest” (1981-90), and wrote for such other TV shows as “Wagon Train,” ”Gentle Ben” and “Nanny and the Professor.” One of his early writing assignments was an episode of NBC legal drama “Justice” in 1954.

Hamner’s novel “Spencer’s Mountain” was retooled for television as made-for movie “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” in 1971, which morphed into “The Waltons” in the fall of 1972. “The Waltons” aired for nine seasons (and six follow-up television movies), winning 13 Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.

Hamner published nearly a dozen books and wrote hundreds of TV scripts and continued to write into his 90. He is survived by his wife, Jane; son, Scott; and daughter, Caroline.