Fans of The Waltons have complicated feelings about Maude Gormley

Character actor Merie Earle didn't start acting until she was 77. The Waltons became her biggest TV role.

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The first time Maude Gormley appears on The Waltons, she’s singing sweetly and reviving regional folksongs in "The Minstrel."

Performed by character actor Merie Earle, Maude Gormley shows up on the mountain 15 times throughout the show’s run, sometimes helping out at church by making coconut cream pie, other times bestowing gifts upon her neighbors, like that time she gave the Waltons a goat.

She was a sweet old lady who was played by a sweet old lady, so it may surprise you to learn that fans of The Waltons seem positively divided over the mostly innocuous recurring character.

In a Waltons forum, fans have recently debated whether Maude Gormley was "cute" or "irritating," and one fan felt so passionately that they left a comment on IMDb, proclaiming uncharitably that "The Minstrel" was the "first regrettable appearance of Maude Gormley, who would go on to irritate viewers for 14 more episodes."

For actor Merie Earle, who didn’t get her start as an actor until the age of 77, playing Maude Gormley was a highlight of her career. And you can be sure she didn’t care a lick what anyone else thought of the character.

Throughout most of Merie’s life, she was a housewife, but TheL.A. Times reported in 1984 that Earle said that even when doing chores around the house, "I had always been a ham."

So when her husband retired from his career as a train engineer, they moved to L.A., and Earle started acting then — not in any major movies, though. Like her character Maude, she was simply donating her time to her church, performing in a church play.

It happened that a talent agent’s son was also in the church play, and that’s how Earle got scouted and signed, originally working as a model for Polaroid.

In the late Sixties, Earle began appearing on TV in a recurring role on Green Acres and in minor roles on hit shows like Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Bonanza. Through this work, Earle developed a reputation for professionalism and even garnered the nickname "one-take Merie" because her delivery of lines was positively flawless.

In the Seventies, she remained in highly visible TV roles, first cast as Maude Gormley on The Waltons and then cast as "the world’s oldest candystriper" on The Bob Newhart Show.

She did all this without one bit of formal acting training, and when she went into auditions, she said she was always surrounded by veteran character actors who she said found her rather unimpressive.

"They’re old-timers in show business, so they just kind of snort and recite all their Broadway credits and film credits and things like that," Earle told The Robesian in 1972. "That doesn’t bother me, though, and sometimes I even beat them out for the parts. But if I don’t, that doesn’t bother me too much either. It doesn’t take much money for me to live, anyway."

Whether The Waltons fans loved or hated Maude Gormley didn’t really matter, either, because Earle had proven herself as a stand-out in a sea of talented veteran actors.

She continued acting on hit shows until she passed away in 1984 at the age of 95. When she first started acting just 18 years before, she felt "really lucky that I don’t look any older than I do."

To her, acting just came naturally at any age. When asked about her acting style, Earle insisted she was never acting at all.

"Oh dear, I guess I don’t have any [acting style]," Earle said. "All I try to do is just to be myself."

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ShelbyMunro 11 days ago
A Sweet Pea who played a Sweet Pea. I like that.
Coldnorth ShelbyMunro 10 days ago
When I was a kid I named our springer spaniel Sweat Pea. My dad didn’t know that and named him something else. The dog only came to the name Sweat Pea. My dad thought he was deaf. Lol
Coldnorth Coldnorth 10 days ago
Sweet Pea not Sweat Pea. I should always check what I type. Sorry for the typo
bagandwallyfan52 12 days ago
Sweet Little Old Ladies
Maude Gormley
Emma Brand Watson
Granny(Beverly Hillbillies
Mrs. Mendelbright
Gràndma Pyle
Aunt Bee
Çlara Edwards
Grandma Margaret Mann(Little
Rascals
Mrs. Sprague
Mrs. Hollinger
Mrs. Stevens
Mother Jefferson
Aunt Esther
Mother Kelp
Grandma Nussbaum
Anyone know of any others??
Granny in Tweety cartoons
Is another sweet little old
Lady. Also Esther Walton
Baldwin Sisters
Morrison Sisters (Andy Griffith Show)
Pigeon Sisters (Odd Couple)
Sarah The Telephone Operator on Green Acres
Another Sweet Little Old Lady
The Little Old Lady From
Pasadena
(Go Granny Go Granny
Go Grsnny Go
She's the terror of Colorado Blvd.
Everybody's saying there's
Nobody meaner than the
Little old lady from Pasadena
She's gonna get a ticket
Sooner or Later cause
She can't keep her feet
Off the accelerator.
Jan and Dean Song
Johnny Bravo's mother
pacific 13 days ago
We would refer to her as the tweety bird lady, she reminded us of the cartoon character in the Sylvester and tweety bird cartoons.
The police detective in
The MGM Cartoon
Who Killed Who?
Looks like actor Fred Kelsey in The Laurel And
Hardy Murder Case and
If A Body Meets A Body(3
Stooges)
Cowgirl 14 days ago
I liked Maude. She was a sweet old lady who was played by a sweet old lady. The only time she ever did anything to upset anyone was when she took her goat back from the Waltons, but that's just because she was lonely & wanted company.
JHP 14 days ago
this actress was so so great on the Bob Newhart show:)

LOL LOL fer sure
Zip 15 days ago
I don't know how anybody could have a problem with her. She played a character that really HAD character. Her appearances were always memorable.
kkvegas 15 days ago
She was a great guest on several episodes of The Tonight Show.
CarolKelley kkvegas 15 days ago
I was just about ready to say that same thing! Those Tonight Shows where she was a guest were truly a delight and you could tell that Johnny was a fan.
Pacificsun 15 days ago
Well I'll give the MeTV Writer credit for an intriguing title to the article!! Who can't resist trying to find out why there are "complicated" feelings about this curious character actor Merie Gormley. I won't spoil the reason why here in this comment. MeTV Writer, we also thank you for the links! Let's have more of them in other stories!

But who would believe there's been a Walton's Forum AND a reunion held? How cool is that!!
OlgaBagley 15 days ago
Wasn’t she Sara the Operator from Andy. Griffith show
LoveMETV22 OlgaBagley 15 days ago
According to the bios Sarah is never seen, nor is Juanita ( Barney's second girlfriend). They're just character names not played by anyone.
She played Sarah the telephone operator on
Green Acres but not the
Andy Griffith Show. Nobody
Played Sarah the telephone operator on The Andy Griffith Show.
On one episodes of Green Acres Sarah is the mother of Hank Kimball(Alvy Moore) and on ohwr episodes Sarah is the
Mother of Hooterville Resident ROY Trendall
(Robert Foulke).
I.believe Merie Earle

Appeared on Happy Days
Two times.
ETristanBooth 15 days ago
To me, she's kind of like Cheerio Meredith (Emma) on The Andy Griffith Show.
Absolutely. Great comparison!
JHP ETristanBooth 14 days ago
"BAD BAD Deputy!" - At least he got a scolding from someone
Emma Brand Watson (Cheerio Meredith) was a
Wonderful character and
A wonderful actress.
Does anyone out there know how many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show
Did Emma Brand Watson
Appear in? Does anyone know what other TV shows and movies she was in
During her acting career?
RIP
Cheerio Meredith
Emma Brand Watson
The Andy Griffith Show
-1964
Does anyone know what
Year Cheerio Meredith was born?
MrsPhilHarris 16 days ago
I liked her as the candy stripper when Bob was in the hospital.
I don't remember this character. Was she the recurring older lady patient in Bob's group? Or was she a stand alone patient because of the storyline itself?
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 15 days ago
It shows her as a patient of Bob's in bios. Standalone or part of the group, not sure at the moment.
I forgot she was a patient. I really only remember her as a candy stripper.
Michael 16 days ago
I thought she'd been referenced more than she apoeared, like Jenny Picolo on Happy Days.

But it's more that she's spread out, until 1977 when most of her appearances are.
LoveMETV22 16 days ago
She was a sweet old lady and a valuable addition to the Walton's cast. Most of the comments on the Walton's Forum page seem complimentary. One comment to the IMDb page does not form a collective opinion. She was just a natural talent in her tv roles.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 15 days ago
But it was cool to have that link, huh. So we could read what people were actually saying! There should be more inclusions of links in future stories.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 15 days ago
Yes, they include stories with links to articles,pics (sometimes). Other times they have put the link in the article but it takes you to a sign-up or subscription (why bother-opinion). Other times they say where the article was from ex;; from a story in a 19.. anywhere news article with no links, but when you search for it you get a pay/subscribe link of that paper.
"So - Yes" There should be more inclusions of links in future stories.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 15 days ago
After going through some more links, now I remember her. I am surprised in the Walton Forum that she "irritated" anyone. And boy, did they take off on the idea of "older people" in general, like being surprised they'd have a second career. What a strange group (2013).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merie_Earle
Runeshaper 16 days ago
Merie Earle seems to have left her mark in TV history. The line, "She was a sweet old lady who was played by a sweet old lady", makes me wish I could've met her (-:
That quote, sounds like it could've been carved on her tombstone. Merie Earle....the Grandma Moses of thespians. They both chose to do their chosen professions, late in life. Or Life allowed them to do their chosen professions late in life.
Kind of like Gus, the fireman in LITB.

Apparently he was just playing himself, too.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 15 days ago
That is a good comparison too. Two actors that started later in life. Burt Mustin did more appearances in film. They both had a fair share of television roles.
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