Waltons actor Mayf Nutter compared his varied career to eating bananas and french fries
Yes, Mayf is his real name. And he was both Festus' cousin and Kenny Rogers' bandmate.
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat. Yes, Mayf Nutter is his real name. Born Mayfred Nutter Adamson, the country music legend was named after his great-grandmother May and great-grandfather Fred.
"I think they was gonna call me May, if I was a girl," Nutter joked to The Chicago Tribune in 1974. "But a litter of pups arrived [before me] and got all the good names." He was a good sport. Nutter kept a manilla envelope of newspaper clippings that misspelled his name.
Nutter came from West Virginia, where he first appeared on the radio at the age of six. According to his entry in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame from 202, Nutter played guitar for Del Shannon's band and was a member of the New Christy Minstrels, the folk troupe that also counted young Kenny Rogers as a member in the late 1960s. Nutter cut some records of his own, including the lighthearted 1967 LP Goin' Skinny Dippin'. But y'all MeTV fans will know Mayf best from his television acting.
He made his screen debut in 1967. It was a guest spot on Gunsmoke, but a rather significant one — Nutter played Heathcliff "Henry" Haggen, cousin of Festus, in "Hard-Luck Henry." Over the next few years, he popped up on more Westerns, Bonanza and The High Chaparral. It was in 1974 that he booked a gig that would give him a recurring role.
Nutter first appeared on The Waltons in "The Book" as Bobby Bigelow, leader of Bobby Bigelow and the Haystack Gang, a popular country act that jammed around Jefferson County and Walton Mountain. You might recall that the group gave Jason a shot to play guitar, paying the kid $3.50 a night.
Bobby Bigelow would return a couple of more times, in "The Song" and "The Breakdown."
A decade later, Nutter would land another recurring role as Parker Winslow on Knots Landing. It was a goofy storyline. Val Ewing (Joan Van Ark) moves to Tennessee and believes she is a waitress named Velma and almost married a country feller named Parker.
So what did Mayf enjoy more — the acting… or the country singing and touring?
"Well, that choice is like being asked, if you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose… bananas or french fries?" Nutter said. It was uncertain as to which was which — are the bananas the acting or the music?
"If I can make [the audience] forget about their car payments for an hour," Nutter explained, "I think that's what entertainment is all about."
With The Waltons, that's missing accomplished. We hardly once think about our car payments.