In 1974, Will Geer said The Waltons should have had more cats

Will Geer wanted to see more cats on The Waltons. Now, that's a statement we can get behind.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Will Geer is best known for playing the role of Grandpa Walton on the hit '70s series, The Waltons. Not all actors across classic TV share something in common with their characters on-screen, but Grandpa Walton and Will Geer are two of the same.

Besides their love for The Waltons' children, Geer and his character had a few other things in common: his infectious laugh, his love for the outdoors and gardening and many of Geer's mannerisms.

For many fans of The Waltons, Grandpa Walton became the grandparent they related to but didn't know they needed. In fact, many fans believed Grandpa Walton was just an extension of Geer's personality in real life. According to Geer, that's true.

Geer never shied away from talking about The Waltons, he even had a few suggestions on how to make the series better. One of those suggestions, however, was not quite what we were expecting. 

In a 1974 interview with The Herald, Geer raised an important question: "Why is there are no cats in The Waltons?"

"Never in my life have I ever seen a rural family that had a barn that didn't have some cats running around chasing after mice," he said. "Not one cat in The Waltons? Why is that anyway?"

Fair point. 

"Now my personal feeling is that Earl Hamner Jr. remembered so much about his Virginia boyhood when he was remembering about The Waltons, that there had been one thing he forgot," he said. "And that one thing is the cats."

Geer spoke with conviction and with a certain amount of charm whenever he talked about The Waltons, that's why his plea for cats seemed so passionate. 

He does have a point, however. A couple of barn cats couldn't have hurt the storyline, but we aren't sure it could have helped it either. 

At the time of the interview, Geer was 72 years old. He stayed with The Waltons until the sixth season and passed away shortly after in 1978. 

"Someone once told me that at a certain age, you fall apart," he said. "But the big thing is not to fall apart in all departments."

Although Geer and his character had many things in common, Geer said he would have handled many situations on the show differently in his personal life.

"They have a nice bunch of kids on The Waltons," he said. "All city kids though. One episode, one of the kids has a pet raccoon that dies. Big hullabaloo. They have a funeral for this raccoon. Grandpa's sympathetic. But what grandpa should have said was: "Dang it all, if we got rid of more raccoons, we'd have more corn and eggs on the table. Raccoons are hell on chickens."

Geer's message: more cats, less raccoons.

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20 Comments

CaroleThorpe 21 days ago
Well, Will was wrong to say there were NO cats on The Waltons. In the episode, "The Loss", Elizabeth has an older cat named Calico who dies in kitten-birth after having trouble popping out the last of her three-kitten litter (John-Boy or someone ends up doing an emergency feline C-section to extract the last kitten before poor Calico crosses the Rainbow Bridge, so to speak). But yes, OTHER than Calico, I do not recall seeing another cat around the Walton house during the entire nine season run of the series.
Rastan 15 months ago
Never watched The Waltons growing up, but watch it almost everyday now. Almost everything I watch now i did not like growing up. Life's funny.
RedjacArbez Rastan 11 months ago
That is because when it first aired you were not the target audience. Now you are.
Truth be told..You're old!!!!
McGillahooala 15 months ago
More cats. What a bizarre comment. It sounds like he was just talking to hear his head rattle. They had a barn. Who’s to say there were no cats in it. What were they supposed to do, build a storyline around them. What about a story about how many nails are holding the barn together. Where does it end.
Mblack McGillahooala 15 months ago
Suddenly I think of Logan's Run. Towards the end, Logan and Jessica get out, and meet Peter Ustinov, playing an old man. And the place is roaming with cats.
RedjacArbez McGillahooala 11 months ago
You missed the point. It is not so much to have cats in the story line....It is to make the setting more accurate.
Zip 15 months ago
Gotta disagree with ya, Grandpa Walton.
"More cats" does not make things better. Just go over to my brother or my sister's house, who both have many cats between them. You're talking wall to wall kitty litter. And cat pee is a smell that you don't need more of. Pheww!
Cougar90 15 months ago
When we had a barn cat we noticed we had fewer mice there and in our house!
LoveMETV22 15 months ago
I have to think if Will Geer was made aware of the injustices Steve Martin was exposed to in "The Jerk", that he would have rescued the cats and had them cast on" The Walton's."
Zip LoveMETV22 15 months ago
Great movie!

My favorite part: "He hates these cans!"
Mblack 15 months ago
Dogs would stop watching the show if cat's had a significant role
LoveMETV22 Mblack 15 months ago
I think " Wreckless" the Walton's dog kept viewership up amongst the canine audience.
Between Blue the mule, Chance the cow, Wreckless the dog, Rover the peacock, Lance the deer, Myrtle the goat and Calico the cat, the animal kingdom received ample recognition, and maybe it boosted the audience among those furry/feathered friends.
LoveMETV22 15 months ago
Funny story. Will Geer was always portrayed as appreciating nature as well as animals (domestic, wild) on The Walton's. Perhaps, as cats have nine lives some of the cats used on 'The Three Stooges" were still around and available to be cast on " The Waltons."

Andybandit 15 months ago
That would have been cute to have a lot of cat on the farm, on the Waltons. Goodnight John-Boy, Goodnight Grandpa, Goodnight all the cats Will Greer wanted on the farm on the Waltons.
ETristanBooth 15 months ago
Elizabeth had a cat that died after giving birth in "The Loss" episode.
https://thewaltons.fandom.com/wiki/The_Loss
Pacificsun 15 months ago
Well they don't have cats running around in a production like that 1) unless they're trained and 2) because if they were loose they'd be in a different position on every take. Most critters on any series are either trained to hand signals or are anchored in some way (you just don't see it).
Coldnorth 15 months ago
I’m with Grandpa Walton. I love cats, I have an indoor only, huge black cat. He’s a pampered cat, a real chubby and cuddly boy
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