Will Geer brought home the eggs laid by the chickens on The Waltons set

The chickens lived a fan’s dream — residing on Walton’s Mountain 24/7.

The Everett Collection

While seeing an actor pull off a character completely different from their real personality is impressive, there’s joy in knowing that a performer and the character they play on TV are very much alike. Will Geer, the beloved actor who played Grandpa Zeb on The Waltons, belongs in the latter category.

Zeb Walton’s playful grin, his infectious laugh and enormous heart were all traits that Geer effortlessly brought to the role because he embodied them as well. Geer was also an avid gardener, bringing real-world knowledge and experience to Grandpa’s love of all things grown from soil. He even planted his own flowers and vegetables on the outdoor Waltons set.

Though the interiors — like the iconic kitchen and many bedrooms — were filmed on a soundstage, anyone who has seen even just one episode knows much of The Waltons takes place outside.

The Warner Bros. backlot provided locations for the school, the church and, of course, the house. The Walton abode was just a façade without any actual rooms in it but everything else about Walton’s Mountain was real. The actors drove real (but sometimes finicky) 1930s cars, real plants grew in the yard, in part thanks to Will Geer, and real animals gave the show authenticity.

The bigger animals like Old Blue the mule, Reckless the dog and Chance the cow were handled by professional trainers and only brought to the set when needed. The chickens on the other hand were as much a part of the environment as the garden or the barn. Their coop was completely real and they even stayed overnight — for a time.

Judy Norton, who played oldest daughter Mary Ellen, recently released a video interview with Waltons production assistant John Dayton. John was responsible for making sure everything ran smoothly behind the scenes and was sometimes given difficult tasks like finding and securing rare vintage cars to use for specific scenes.

Judy and John reminisce about their time making the show and John reveals many interesting tidbits. For example, when the subject of the animals comes up, he notes that the chickens “originally did stay overnight and weekends, but when Will started collecting eggs… and taking them home, they got a little upset with him.”

That’s right, Will Geer not only brought his own greenery to the set, he also snagged a few eggs from the chickens like he was on his own farm! We can’t say we blame him, but the animal wranglers didn’t take too kindly to it. They no longer let the chickens live there around the clock.

Whether just a prank or an opportunity for free breakfast, or both, Geer’s fun and mischievous nature is perfectly exemplified in this behind-the-scenes anecdote. It shows how much he and his character were alike because we believe Grandpa Zeb would have done the same thing.

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vonstockhoff 12 months ago
Growing up I just loved Will Geer on The Waltons. Even today knowing he was a bonafide Communist and radical, I still think I could hang out with him and enjoy his company so long as we didn't discuss politics. even discussing politics I bet it was impossible to get or stay angry with him. I had a friend in college that I worked with at the law library reminded me a lot of him. He was older and introduced me to ushering at Music Hall so I could see performances of the opera, ballet and symphony for free.
AnnieM 33 months ago
Grandpa Walton was my favorite character. I never knew either of my grandfathers; one died when I was a baby, and the other was in care in a nursing home and died when I was still quite young. I used to imagine what it would be like to have a grandpa like Grandpa Walton, and I'm sure many other people felt the same way.
RavensDawn 34 months ago
I follow Judy Norton's YouTube channel and now I'll have to see if she addresses this chicken issue. I'm new to her channel, so I've a lot of catching up to do, but if I can't find anything about the great "Will Geer Chicken Egg Scandal," I'll just ask her-she's uploaded several Ask Judy videos, so maybe if she hasn't addressed it already, she wiil in the future....🤞🤞🤞
P.S. Is there a MeTV forum where fans can later "meet" to discuss/report findings/ask questions about classic stars, shows, move or things like the above scenario?
Zip RavensDawn 34 months ago
I watch Judy's videos as well. I love the behind the scenes stuff! I don't remember if she discussed eggs. I do remember one segment where she talked about the dinner table though. Of course, that was a much-used set on The Waltons.
vonstockhoff RavensDawn 12 months ago
Judy did (at the time) a scandalous spread for Playboy Magazine in 1984. You can do a Google image search to see the pics. Mary Ellen turned out quite nice I must say!
Zip 34 months ago
I too was getting a little perturbed wondering why Will Geer taking some of the eggs would have upset the animal handlers on the set. And I wonder if maybe there was some legal aspect to it, like the production company(or animal handlers themselves) might have been liable if Will Geer had gotten sick from eating a bad egg or something?
Another aspect is that maybe they used those eggs to feed the cast and crew? But that one would still seem kind of petty to get mad over.
KennethStone 34 months ago
Oh yeah, about the eggs....BIG DEAL!! Let him take the eggs! The wranglers needed to do their job and don't worry about the eggs being put to good use.👍
KennethStone 34 months ago
Love the Waltons! Never knew about the house, and how it was filmed. So sad shows like that are not produced today.😥
F5Twitster 34 months ago
And how much were the damned eggs worth (especailly in the early 1970s)?

Geer was one of the stars of the show. If he wanted the eggs, let him keep the eggs, and the studio office could've written what was literally a couple of extra dollars a week into the show's production budget to pay off the chicken wranglers.

That'd have been a small price to pay to keep Geer happy.
country46 F5Twitster 34 months ago
eggs were 60 cents a dozen I don't get it
Coldnorth 34 months ago
Why would taking eggs be such a big deal. He left the chickens lol
kimmer 34 months ago
What a funny and great man. He always reminded me of my Grandpa Ai. I bet they would've been friends.
KenErickson 34 months ago
Will Geer was gay and a social activist who was active in labor organizing and other movements in New York and Southern California in the 1930s and 1940s; in 1934 Will met Harry Hay, one of the founders of the Gay movement, and they became lovers; Hay credited Geer as his political mentor.
logicgrrl KenErickson 34 months ago
Love that story! I hope Will & Harry were happy together for years.
MarkEd KenErickson 34 months ago
Geer was also a card carrying communist,, becoming a member of the Communist Party of the United States in 1934, and recruiting others such as Woodie Guthrie, Burl Ives Etc. to join the communist party. He was blacklisted for refusing to name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He was Bisexual, his wife was actress Herta Ware, who was best known for her performance as the wife of Jack Gilford in the film Cocoon (1985). Geer and Ware had three children, Kate Geer, Thad Geer, and actress Ellen Geer. 
Moverfan MarkEd 33 months ago
As far as I can tell from what I've read, HUAC blacklisted pretty much everybody, whether they had cause or not. Reminds you of Kevin McCoward, Myrtle the Turtle McConnell and the rest of the repugnant thugs, don't it?
JimmyD 34 months ago
Not sure why they would be mad at the guy for actually using the eggs unless they not only rented out their chickens but also sold or used the eggs themselves.
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LoveMETV22 34 months ago
I love that term and that's how they did it before the stringent requirements they have now. Lol
Zip 34 months ago
Hey, since you seem to be well-versed on the subject, I have a question for you about double yolks, if you don't mind.
I have wondered this ever since I watched Little House On The Prairie, when Ma Ingalls says to Mrs. Oleson when Harriet is trying to lower the price to pay Caroline for her eggs she brought in to the store. Ma Ingalls says, "6 of them are double yolks!"
I always wondered how she could tell they are double yolks without breaking them open? I didn't think it was so easy to see inside a chicken egg?!
I grew up in the country but we never had chickens.
kimmer 34 months ago
Candling them you could see. Funny thing you can see if there is a chick inside....yolks....but we could never see if there was blood in them. Catskill chicken farm back in the day...across the way was the processing plant...chicken feathers in the air all day!....Country Liv'in!!!
logicgrrl 34 months ago
We would get double yolk eggs from a Dorothy Gatterdamm. She had a stand in our North Market farmers market. Not only were they double yolk, but the yolks were a DEEP yellow. Delicious!
machiko1 34 months ago
Loved reading about my favorite character on the Waltons. I always felt like he was my grandpa. It broke my heart when he passed.
harlow1313 34 months ago
I wish I had a cool title like Chicken Wrangler. I would strut around all bada**.
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 34 months ago
I get a chuckle from "some" of your comments harlow 🐔🐓🐣🐤🐥
Andybandit 34 months ago
Nice story. I would bring the eggs home, too.
country46 34 months ago
I don't blame him I have 4 chickens now you can't buy a better egg
WordsmithWorks 34 months ago
The chicken wranglers probably wanted the eggs for themselves.
I was thinking the same thing.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 34 months ago
I think Yancy Tucker put him up to it.
LoveMETV22 34 months ago
Nice story MeTV. Thanks for the share. His degree in Botany was put to good use on the series.
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