Kathy Egner, Ph.D.
Goodnight John-Boy: A Celebration of an American Family and the Values That Have Sustained Us Through Good Times and Badby Ralph Giffin, Earl Hamner
For eight wonderful years The Waltons, the story of a family living in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains during the Depression, entertained America and the world. Yet this television show was more than entertaining. Each episode combined wonderful stories and "teachable moments" in which adults and children alike learned the importance of honesty, hard work, respect, responsibility, self-sacrifice, and kindness. As is true in most families, the Waltons faced many challenges, occasionally stumbled along the way, but they struggled to live their lives within the framework of the values they believed and taught.
Goodnight, John-Boy is a memory book of The Waltons, the number-one television show of its time. Filled with behind-the-scenes anecdotes and profiles of people who appeared on the show, it introduces readers to the Hamner family members who later became characters on The Waltons, suggests events and locales that inspired many of the episodes, and traces Earl Hamner's life as a writer from Virginia to New York to Hollywood.
Included is a description of each episode plus reminiscence, comments, and personal feelings from numerous people connected with the series-writers, actors, directors, producers, family, and fans. Heavily illustrated with publicity shots and personal photographs taken by cast, crew, and others, Goodnight John-Boy will be a welcomed book by millions of loyal fans.
When The Waltons first aired in 1972, it was at the bottom of the Nielson ratings-by December it led the list. That dramatic leap came about because fans told their friends about it and wrote the CBS network to praise the show and to plead that the show not be canceled. Thirty years later, Goodnight, John-Boy is sure to touch the hearts of the show's fans again.
Kathy Egner, Ph.D.
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Reading this book is like drinking hot cocoa on a snowy day¿it warms you right through. It begins with a touching foreword by Richard Thomas who played John-Boy on The Waltons. In his preface Earl Hamner sets the tone of the book when he describes driving through the back lot of a movie studio to visit the replica of the house he grew up in as a child. He recalls the family that he re-created in his books and on television¿a warm and caring family that many of us came to know watching the series. Goodnight John-Boy is a reflection on the literary and television career of a sensitive and humble man whose life's work has been a tribute to his parents, brothers and sisters, and a fading way of life. The book is sprinkled with pictures of Earl's own family and the actors and actresses who were cast to play them. In real life the two families have mingled so much over the years that it's hard to tell them apart. Thirty years after the show began, there are still reunions of some of the real family, cast members, and fans every year. In fact, plans are underway for a new Walton's Mountain Museum in Lovingston, Virginia, the county seat of Schuyler, where the "real" family lived. If you are a fan of The Waltons, you will love this behind-the-scenes look at the people who were involved with the show. Of course, I'm a little biased. The last chapter of Goodnight John-Boy contains an essay I wrote contrasting the family values of the series with the base reality shows of today. Since it began in 1972, The Waltons has appeared almost continuously on television and fans continue to find solace, inspiration, and enjoyment in it. Read this book and then start watching the series again on the Hallmark channel starting in January 2003.
In the book Goodnight John-Boy I found it to be very entertaining and informative. It has a positive family feeling that brings back many good memories of a show with moral values. Having many photos, I also enjoyed the excerpts from the specific episodes, such as the show "The Carnival" starring the 3' 9" actor Billy Barty (see also Earl Hamner's story/recollection in "Within Reach" a biographical book about Billy Barty). I recommend Goodnight John-Boy highly!