Some actors are so dedicated to their careers that something as serious as a stroke doesn’t keep them out of the game for too long. When Grandma Esther, AKA Ellen Corby, had a stroke in 1976, she left the show for two years in order to care for her health.
Her stroke ended up being written into the script. Ellen was afraid that the stroke would impact her acting abilities, but the opposite ended up happening, although her fans expressed doubt at Corby taking up acting again and not prioritizing her health.
Kami Cotler - Now
Kami Cotler retired acting in pursuit of an academic path. She enrolled at the University of California, Berkley, and got her degree in Social Sciences. She became a teacher and ironically started to work in a rural Virginia school, similar to the school that her character on Waltons attended.
Kami later moved back to California to teach at an Environmental Charter High School and then became co-director of the Ocean Charter School until 2007 when she retired from the school system in order to start her own educational consulting business.
Ralph Waite Was Fired Because the Network Was Cheap
Originally, the show wasn't supposed to continue on for a ninth season. However, after setting a lower budget, the producers ended up proceeding with the last season. They needed more money, so they did the most logical thing; they let go of the highest-paid actor, Ralph Waite.
So, if you're wondering why Waite was missing… you can blame the network for being cheap!
Patricia Neal Was in the Original Cast
In the 1971 pilot of the TV show, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, Patricia Neal played Olivia Walton. Patricia won a Golden Globe for her performance. Earl Hamner was doubtful of Neal's ability to commit to the schedule of a weekly TV series because of her health issues.
So, Michael Learned was awarded the role, which, as we know by now, was a very positive thing for the series and Learned's career.
Henry Fonda Talked Himself Out Of A Role
Henry Fonda was in "Spencer's Mountain" in 1963, which served as inspiration for " The Waltons." Fonda was potentially going to play the father of the Waltons, and CBS executives thought that he could be a great fit. However, he made a comment which eventually rubbed them the wrong way and ruined his chances of getting cast.
When Fonda watched the pilot show, he said, "What do you want me for? The whole family is the star! You don't need me." So… yeah… not really the thing to say if you're trying to get cast!