Posted by: KazK | December 3, 2010

Goodnight John McGreevey

I was very sad to learn that John McGreevey, who wrote so many of my favourite Waltons episodes, passed away on November 24, 2010.

In 2007 I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful man at the Waltons International Fan Club reunion, where this photo of him was taken. Next to meeting Earl Hamner, having the chance to talk to Mr McGreevey was awe inspiring.  I have long admired his writing for The Waltons and his 20 odd episodes include some which I believe are the best in the series, and ones which are most loved by Waltons fans. 

McGreevey wrote the first episode which was produced (The Hunt) and the first which aired (The Foundling).  He wrote that wonderful 2 part episode in the first season The Easter Story, one which is revisited each Easter, and is much loved by fans.

I think The Scholar is a powerful, and very important, piece of writing. McGreevey created the character of Verdie Grant for this episode, brought to life by the wonderful Lynn Hamilton.  The episode tells of an adult, Verdie, an African American woman who is illiterate, and doesn’t want her secret to be known by her daughter who is about to graduate from College.  John Boy teaches her to read and write, but the road is very rocky along the way!  Lynn Hamilton states in the book Goodnight John Boy (Earl Hamner and Ralph Giffin) that this episode inspired many adults to continue their education. They were inspired by Verdie’s story.  I think John McGreevey would have been very humbled to realise the impact of his storytelling.  Deservedly, this episode won an Emmy award in 1972-73, along with several other awards.

Verdie wasn’t the only character McGreevey created though. He was also responsible for creating the lovable Corabeth.  Corabeth Walton was introduced as John’s cousin in The Matchmakers. Here’s what Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth) has to say about her role in Goodnight John Boy:

“When I was given the role of Corabeth Godsey, I realized with my first show that I had been given a gift. Every actor wants a role where the person undergoes change and growth. Corabeth had many facets. She was often difficult and the audience couldn’t bear her, and then she would redeem herself and the audience would be touched by her. This was due to insightful and beautiful writing. I believe it was the best-written role on the show.”

Very high praise for John McGreevey indeed. 

Each Christmas I will remember John McGreevey by watching both The Best Christmas and The Children’s Carol. The latter episode is about two orphaned English children who are evacuated from London.

One of the reasons I love this episode is because Sally Boyden, a young Australian performer, landed the lead role of Tess. Sally was on a junior singing, dancing show here in Australia called Young Talent Time and I loved it. I was very happy to watch more of her on The Waltons. A reason why fans like it is because the younger brother, Pip, was played by Jeff Cotler, Kami’s (Elizabeth) real life brother.

This is another 2 hour episode and John McGreevey says that he cherished the memory of it because he got to work with the musical director, Alexander Courage, collaborating on the lyrics and music for the carol.

There is more about John McGreevey and his writing over at the Official Waltons website.

McGreevey wrote far more widely than just for The Waltons though. His career spanned from the 1940’s right through to the 1990’s, writing for some very popular shows but also some telemovies as well. His son, Michael, is also known by Waltons fans as the actor who played Hobie in The Braggart, but who also wrote several episodes for the show. In the late 1970s, father and son teamed up to write Ruby and Oswald, a docu-drama which received critical acclaim. You can read more about Michael and this story here.

To John’s family and friends I send my condolences. I’m very honoured to have met John, and extremely pleased that he had the opportunity to share his talents, and insights, with us.

Goodnight John McGreevey.

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Responses

  1. Hi:
    I was just wondering who wrote the song “Children”s Carol” and did “Jason”
    ever record any music? I really think he had a lot of talent in his own right.

    • I think that Jon Walmsley did write the music for A Children’s Carol. Jon is actually part of a band now and yes, he has been busy recording. He has a Facebook page that you might be interested in at http://www.facebook.com/JONWALMSLEYFAN . That will keep you up to date with what he’s doing.


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