Earl Hamner is considered one of this country’s great storytellers, having created television’s The Waltons and Falcon Crest in addition to writing novels, short stories, and hundreds of movie and television scripts.
On Monday, December 7, Media Heritage presents the regional premiere of Earl Hamner: Storyteller (Front Porch Films), a new, full length documentary celebrating Hamner’s career, which had its beginnings at WLW in Cincinnati. Special guests include the film’s director and producers, as well as actress Mary Beth McDonough, who played “Erin Walton” in the Emmy award-winning series.
The film screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. at The Carnegie in Covington, with a pre-show “meet and greet” at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and available at The Carnegie Box Office, 859-957-1940, or online at TheCarnegie.com. VIP tickets are $50 and include a special gift bag and premium seating. A cash bar will be available. All proceeds benefit Media Heritage, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Greater Cincinnati’s radio and television history.
“This documentary is terrific,” comments Mike Martini, Media Heritage executive director. “The producers conducted dozens of interviews with actors and others from nearly every major project of his career. It’s a great tribute. . .very comprehensive . . .and it shows clearly why Earl deserves to be celebrated among America’s great writers.”
Earl Hamner, Jr., born on July 10, 1923, in Schuyler, Virginia, was the oldest of eight children. The family was hit hard by the Great Depression and Hamner’s father could only find work 30 miles away. He travelled home on the weekends taking a bus and then walking the last six miles. Taking that walk on a snowy Christmas Eve 1933, was the inspiration for Hamner’s 1970 novel The Homecoming, which became a Christmas special and the pilot for The Waltons in 1971.
Among many other writing credits, Hamner contributed eight episodes in the early 1960s to the CBS science fiction series The Twilight Zone. He also wrote or co-wrote eight episodes of the CBS series Gentle Ben (1967-1969) and four episodes of the ABC sitcom Nanny and the Professor (1970). In addition to his television work, Earl wrote the screenplay for the animated feature film Charlotte’s Web, the film Heidi and the 1960s teen hit Palm Springs Weekend.
The Waltons won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1973 and a Peabody Award for its first season. Stars Richard Thomas, Michael Learned, Ellen Corby and Will Geer earned Emmy’s for their performances. In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Waltons No. 34 on its list of the “60 Best Series of All Time.”
Earl Hamner is 92 and mostly retired in California. He has suffered some health problems in recent years and this documentary was produced by people who know and love him to give him the credit and praise he deserves while he’s still able to enjoy it.
Earl Hamner’s Cincinnati Career
After serving in France during WWII, Earl came to Cincinnati in 1946 to attend the College of Music of Cincinnati (now part of the University of Cincinnati) on the GI Bill. He learned about radio acting and writing, appearing on several shows on early WLWA-FM and was hired by WLW as a staff writer in 1947. He wrote for a variety of programs as well as edited the station’s fan magazine, The WLW Postmark. In May 1948, Earl left Cincinnati to pursue a career as novelist and, later, broadcast writer. Ironically, the person hired to replace Earl at WLW was another GI-Bill student-writer and WWII veteran, Rod Serling. Years later, when Earl moved to Los Angeles, Serling gave him much needed work writing eight episodes of the legendary Twilight Zone.
Media Heritage (MH) is a not for profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of radio, television and film with a particular emphasis on Cincinnati’s broadcast history. For more information, visit www.mediaheritage.com, Facebook or contact Mike Martini at email@example.com.