Ronnie Claire Edwards had a whirlwind marriage while filming The Waltons
Her character Corabeth's wedding kept her on Walton’s Mountain, but behind the scenes, love didn’t last.
The first time we meet Corabeth on The Waltons, she’s still a Walton, not yet a Godsey.
In the third season episode "The Matchmakers," John’s cousin Corabeth comes to visit after her mother passes away.
Never having married, Corabeth is surprised when her seeming opposite Ike Godsey takes a liking to her and proposes marriage by the episode’s end.
It was a whirlwind courtship, but they do get married, and after their nuptials, actor Ronnie Claire Edwards, who played Corabeth, became a regular on the show until the series ended in 1981.
That episode aired in 1975, and the very next year, Edwards got married in the real world to movie producer, actor and key grip Bill Record.
Their wedding took place on Labor Day in 1976, and soon, the couple had moved in together into a big house where they planned to live happily ever after. Edwards gushed to reporters that even though she’d released an album that year, her new husband was the highlight of her life.
"I’d rather have the Record than the album," she insisted.
Soon, the couple decided they wanted to host a party with an Old Western theme, and that meant they wanted to convert one of the rooms in their big house into a saloon straight out of Gunsmoke.
There was just one problem with their plan, Edwards told the Valley News in 1977.
"We both wanted a saloon," Edwards said. "I couldn’t buy a bar to go in this room, because they’re too big. It’d be like trying to move a couple of baby grand pianos."
Since they couldn’t bring in a bar to make their dream saloon, Edwards and Record decided to build one themselves.
Record took on most of this task, spending the next four days before their party designing and constructing the saloon.
"He’s very talented in that direction," Edwards said admiringly.
In the end, it was essentially a huge façade that Record built, rather than a functioning bar. Either way, the saloon became the centerpiece of their new home.
"It’s a funny room," Edwards said. "It’s just a set. It’s perfect for entertaining. When people see the room, they just holler. People just gravitate in here. This is the room everybody stays in."
Over time, though, not even having their own saloon could keep the couple happy together, and less than a year after marrying, Edwards filed for divorce from Record on July 1, 1977.
It seems that behind the scenes of The Waltons, where Corabeth’s whirlwind courtship landed her a lifetime partner in Ike, Edwards’ whirlwind marriage in the real world was, like that saloon façade, not built to last.
Edwards didn’t let her marriage ending stop her from moving into yet another unusual home, though.
Eventually, Edwards moved to Dallas where she converted a Catholic Church into an equally eccentric mansion.
It was a place of her own to live out the rest of her career.
When Edwards passed away in 2016, her longtime friend and business partner Marty Van Kleeck said the saloon and her converted church home were symbols of what made Edwards such a uniquely mesmerizing friend.
"She was incredibly creative and imaginative," Van Kleeck told The Windsor Star. "She was one of a kind, the kind of person you hope you meet in your lifetime and rarely get the opportunity to."
On The Waltons, Edwards saw her character Corabeth as "a married old maid with pretension."
Her castmate Mary McDonough (Erin Walton) saw Edwards as the bigger character of the two.
"Corabeth was a character and Ronnie Claire was an even bigger character," McDonough said. "She was larger than life and so whip-smart and funny."
Playing Corabeth, Edwards never fell out of love with polarizing audiences.
She told producer Ray Castro that she relished her role on The Waltons.
"When fans around the world come up to you and say, 'I love to hate you,' you know that the actor has done her job," Castro recalled Edwards saying of what it was like portraying the character that became her most famous TV role.