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Creator Earl Hamner Jr. drew on his own experiences growing up in rural Virginia during the Depression era. Before the Emmy Award-winning success of "The Waltons" in the 1970s, Hamner's novel "Spencer's Mountain" was turned into a memorable 1963 family motion picture starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara and James MacArthur. "Spencer's Mountain" was set in Wyoming near the Grand Teton Mountains of the 1960s.

Hamner, who turned 88 years old on July 10, 2011, has a website about his life and family history (check the link).

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The real life family who inspired “The Waltons”

The Waltons was a television series that was based on the book Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hamner Jr. Just when you couldn’t imagine love the characters any more, it turns out Earl based the characters off his own family. Earl Hamner Jr. was born in 1923 and grew up in mining town of Schuyler, VA, when the Great Depression hit. He was the oldest of eight kids and his other siblings were James, Willard, Paul, Cliff, Audrey and Marion. Earl Sr. lost his job when the New Alberene Stone mine closed in the 30s and then worked as a machinist in another town, coming home to his family on the weekends. Similar to his character on the show, Earl’s father enjoyed hunting, drinking and cursing. Unfortunately, he passed away before the show came out. Earl’s mother, Doris Hamner, was a religious woman who would really keep the light on until the last child was safely in bed for the night. She famously entertained fans of the show in their home, serving them tea and telling stories of her children. The home the family lived in had hardwood floors, lace curtains and a Jenny Lind bedstead.

Earl Hamner Jr. died in 2016 but brought the story of his family to millions through his book and then the TV show.

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Q: Is The Waltons about a real family?
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