A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion

(November 21, 1993)

(number 4, post-season movie)


Starring:  Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, Ellen Corby, Jon Walmsley, Judy Norton, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott, David Harper, Kami Cotler, Joe Conley, Ronnie Clair Edwards.


Music: Alexander Courage, Executive Producers: Earl Hamner, Lee Rich, Bruce Sallan, Producer: Sam Manners.


Written by: Claire Whitaker & Rod Peterson, Directed by: Harry Harris.


Setting: November 1963.


Olivia straightens Grandpa’s picture and awakens John, who is asleep in front of the television set. They reminisce about the first time (on their honeymoon) that they talked about building the house on top of the Mountain. John has decided to break ground in the spring, so are planning for all the family to be home for Thanksgiving, the last one in the old house. They are worried about Elizabeth who is traveling in Europe.


In New York City John-Boy is appearing on a morning television news program reporting about a visit to Texas of President Kennedy. His girlfriend (Janet) looks on, preparing to leave with him for Walton’s Mountain to meet his family. In Charlottesville, Mary Ellen, a practicing physician, is home with her two children (Clay and Katie) while Grandma visits. Jonesy is in the military, stationed in the Vietnam jungle teaching natives how to care for their animals. Cindy is home when Erin arrives with her three children. She is substituting all week while Cindy baby-sits. Cindy reports that the Northridge alimony check is generous for Erin. And Erin notices that Virginia’s highchair is in the kitchen. With Cindy’s daughter dead for two years, Cindy is still hoping for more children. But Ben is against adoption.


At the store Ike finds that Corabeth is sick again this morning, still upset about the life that their daughter has decided upon. A letter has arrived from Aimee but Corabeth has no desire to read it. Ike says that she is breaking Aimee’s heart, and silently says that she is breaking his heart, too.


Ben tries to start his Daddy’s old truck but it won’t turn over. Ben tries to convince John to buy a new truck, new equipment, and to hire additional workers so they can have a quality business. But John wants to maintain their current hands-on operation. The truck finally starts to John’s delight, and Ben’s frustration.


Jim Bob drives Jason home after returning from a concert tour. Jim Bob tells his brother that he is doing well as a pilot, getting work in crop dusting and charter flights. When they drive up to Jason’s apartment three excited children (Roy, Merle, and a third son) greet their father, along with an angry wife (Toni). After Jason tells Toni that he misses her, she softens up and warmly welcomes him home.


John fixes the drain to the kitchen sink after it stops again. They wonder what John-Boy’s girlfriend is like, assuming she is a big-city girl. Olivia wants to look refined as she wears earrings and high-heeled shoes. Suddenly John-Boy is at the front door with Janet. John and Olivia warmly greet them. John-Boy announces that he has a surprise, bringing Elizabeth inside, much to the relief of John and Olivia. Later as John-Boy writes at his old desk Olivia listens while he compares the noises of New York City to the sounds of Walton’s Mountain. John confesses that he has asked Janet to marry him several times, but she has put him off, thinking he is too career driven to be a good husband and father.


Olivia finds Elizabeth making Switzerland coffee, feeling the effects of jet lag. Elizabeth asks her mother if she knew what she wanted to do at her age. Olivia said she had seven children at that age. Elizabeth wonders when she will settle down. Olivia tells Elizabeth to do what makes her happy. Outside Elizabeth sees Drew Cutler drive up. They are surprised to see each other. Drew tells her that he was in the Army, and is divorced after being married for six months. Elizabeth tells Drew that she is back from Europe, with a Master’s degree in Botany. She admits being engaged for a while, but the man decided he liked someone else better. Drew asks Elizabeth out to the movies, and she asks him to call her. John and Ben see Drew drive up to the mill. John thinks he has arrived to see Elizabeth, but Ben tells his father that he just hired Drew. John insists that Ben tell him before making such decisions. John finally agrees to hire Drew.


Jim Bob drives up in his convertible sports car as Mary Ellen drives up in her red Thunderbird with Katie, Clay, and Grandma. Everybody hugs each other, while John-Boy is upstairs telling Janet how beautiful she is in the morning. As John-Boy kisses his girlfriend, the family runs in so they can be introduced to her. Janet learns that her boyfriend’s nickname is “John-Boy”. At home in Rockfish, Jason plays with Roy when Toni comes into the bedroom. Jason is hoping that one of his songs will hit it big so he won’t have to travel so much. Toni tells him he only comes home to get her pregnant, announcing she is already pregnant. Jason hopes for a girl, so they can name her “Patsy Cline”.


Starting her teaching of third-graders, Erin finds Assistant Principal Delaney bringing her science books. Jeff offers her a full-time position beginning the first of the year. Erin is unsure she can accept the job, and raise three children. Delaney makes it known that he is interested in her. Erin finds that he is married.


John-Boy and Janet walk in the woods, talking about John-Boy’s special feeling toward his Grandpa. Growing up, John-Boy says he thought he could discover all the secrets of the world within the forest. Janet declares that she likes him better here on the Mountain, being less serious. John-Boy tells her that he feels he can be a good family man and continue with his fast-paced career. Janet wants to believe him.


Mary Ellen tells John that the Baldwin sisters called after being arrested for selling bootleg whiskey. They find them behind bars as Deputy Walt Gilmore tells them that Al Simpson of the D.A. office arrested them because he is running for county commissioner, and a few big arrests will help him get elected. Ike is talking with Verdie and Olivia when a radio news flash announces that John Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas. The women rush out as Ike closes the store, shocked at the news. The family gathers around the television set as reporter Dan Rather describes the scene in Dallas. Walter Cronkite later makes the announcement that Kennedy has died. Elizabeth runs out of the house. John-boy packs for Washington, DC as Janet listens to him remember interviewing Kennedy, afterwards being asked about his family. Jim Bob tells them that Kennedy has died. Elizabeth finds Verdie at the church, and they cry together. Erin watches television alone at her house when Jeff Delaney knocks on the door, not wanting to be alone. Erin invites him in after he admits that his wife is out with her boyfriend. They talk about spouses that weren’t faithful.


Olivia finds Katie unable to sleep. She makes hot milk for her granddaughter, comforting her with pleasant thoughts of Christmas trees and Thanksgiving turkey. The family gathers around the television set as John-Boy reminisces about happier moments in Kennedy’s life. He says that Kennedy would want everyone to get on with their lives. John agrees, returning to work. Grandma straightens Zeb’s picture that has become tilted. Late that night Olivia finds John unable to sleep, thinking about the assassination and Ben. John says he is bringing Ben along slowly so he can eventually take over, but won’t be pushed aside now.


Mary Ellen awakens upon hearing an airplane overhead. Jim Bob has taken Clay up in the airplane, without her permission. Mary Ellen and Yancy Tucker meet Jim Bob and Clay as they land. Jim Bob insists that Clay was perfectly safe. Mary Ellen thinks Jim Bob is living like a gypsy, while Jim Bob says he likes flying but wants a family like everyone else. Jim Bob tells Mary Ellen that she is really worried that Jonesy won’t return, and she’ll be a war widow again.


Corabeth decides to go to church for the first time in a long time. Ike tells Corabeth then she looks beautiful, but Corabeth says she feels old. Corabeth tells Ike that Aimee could have been successful, but married a mechanic. Ike tells his wife that Aimee was only special in their eyes, that she followed her heart. John and Olivia prepare for church. Janet speaks to John-Boy on the telephone, talking about the world’s reaction to Kennedy’s death. The news department has asked him to stay, so won’t be home until Tuesday. Even though Janet is not a churchgoer, Olivia tells her she is going. Elizabeth and Drew walk to church, talking about special things in their lives. Drew kisses Elizabeth, and she kisses him back. At church Rev. Mosely gives the service. Afterwards Cindy tells Olivia that Ben won’t sit at the same dinner table with John. Jim Bob pulls up to the church to say that Lee Harvey Oswald was just shot by Jack Ruby.


John waves at Miss Mamie and Miss Emily as they drive erratically into the garden. They thank John for bailing them out of jail with a cake made with the Recipe. Rose takes care of Erin’s children as they eat dinner at the Northridge’s. John confronts Al Sampson, telling him that he is out of line. Sampson tells John that he should mind his own business, especially concerning his daughter seeing a married man.


Jason packs while Toni cries, not wanting him to leave. Jason is hoping that a new long shot will come through, but won’t tell Toni where he is going. Jason says good-bye when Jim Bob drives up, but Toni says that if he leaves, not to come back. Erin and Drew kiss outside the house as John, Olivia, Mary Ellen, and Katie watch from the living room. The two walk inside to announce (not that they are getting married) but that Elizabeth has decided to join the Peace Corps. Drew says he is disappointed, but proud.


John-Boy speaks with Janet about problems with writing a message to the nation on Thanksgiving Day. He won’t be home for dinner, but says he loves her. Janet responds, “I love you, too, John-Boy!” He smiles.


John and Drew talk about Ben. John thinks that Ben should have stopped by, but Drew says Ben has made up his mind. Ben and Cindy talk about his new job as an assistant foreman that is forty-five minutes away. Cindy says it means that she will be alone longer in the house. Cindy admits hearing Virginia’s voice and the voices of children they didn’t adopt. Ben says he doesn’t want someone else’s child. Ben cries, as Cindy tells him that they must move on. Ben decides he could love a child that she loves.


Erin enters the house late in the evening as John sits in the living room. John asks her about the married man, but Erin reassures her father that she is not seeing him. John holds his daughter. Later, Mary Ellen, Erin, and Elizabeth talk about wearing hand-me-downs and staying together in the house for the last time. Janet joins the women, admitting she never had sisters. Mary Ellen says she has them now.


John yells at Drew, who tells his boss that he is sorry about Ben, but not to take it out on him. John tries to start the truck, but it won’t turn over. He becomes mad, and walks off into the woods. He asks Zeb for help, wishing he had listened more closely to his advice. (In a flashback, Zeb and John talk about making an important decision about selling the house.) John thanks his father for his help.


Mary Ellen, Grandma, and Olivia select some of Grandma’s things to take with her as she moves in with Mary Ellen. Elizabeth asks her mother for some of Grandpa’s flower books. Then, Mary Ellen wants to know if Katie can use the piano if they don’t take it to the new house. Lastly, Erin wants a vase that Grandpa gave to Grandma on their wedding. But, Olivia decides that Grandma doesn’t want to leave the house where Grandpa’s presence is still so strong and that they can’t take the things they want.


Ben and Cindy drive up to the house to find John driving up with a new (used) truck that he bought mostly with cash. Ben and Cindy announce they are adopting a child and Ben asks for his old job back. John says he needs a fulltime partner while he is running for the county commission job. That night Olivia comes downstairs to find an empty kitchen and living room but still filled with many memories. Olivia tells John that it is difficult to turn her back on this house. John suggests new plumbing, new appliances, and a new dishwasher for the old house. They go back to bed to talk about it.


Ike prepares a turkey, but Corabeth wants to go out to dinner. Ike looks out the window, seeing Aimee, and her husband and daughter drive up. Corabeth doesn’t want to see her until Corabeth sees her granddaughter for the first time. Aimee says her same is “Beth”.


On Thanksgiving Day the Walton women prepare dinner. Olivia tells her daughters that she does not want them to shelter her from their problems. Jason, Toni, and their children arrive. They announce that Elvis Presley is buying one of Jason’s songs and putting it on his next album. When they say that Toni is pregnant again, Olivia says she already knows. The turkey is ready, but before eating John and Olivia announce that they are staying at the house. The family is relieved and happy, knowing that this is the first Thanksgiving for the family and their families’ family. John asks Ben to give thanks. Ben says, “Our heavenly Father, thank you for this food and for this day and thank you for this family. We ask you for your continued blessings.” After dinner the family watch John-Boy on television give his message to the nation, noting that life continues and that out of this trying time we can become stronger in a celebration of freedom. He suggests everyone join hands and extend encouragement to all, so our nation can be enriched. John-Boy silently enters the house after taping the speech earlier. Everyone welcomes him. That night while John-Boy and Janet sit outside and the family prepares for sleep, John-Boy tells everybody that Janet has asked him to marry her, and he said, “Yes”.



Mary Ellen is the mother of two children, Clay and Katie. However, no mention is made of the whereabouts of John-Curtis. And no mention is made about the fact that Mary Ellen could not have children after her accident on her honeymoon with Jonesy.

Ben and Cindy have lost Virginia. Cindy wants to adopt but Ben is against it. However, no mention is made of the whereabouts of Charles “Charlie” Benjamin, their first-born son.

The time frame from 1947 (in the third movie) to the year 1963 (in the fourth movie) is sixteen years.(In reality, there was a span of nearly twelve years from the making of the third movie and this fourth movie.). In season five (year 1937) John-Boy is twenty years old. In the year 1963 of this movie, John-Boy would be forty-five years old, and Olivia and John would be in their mid-sixties.

Jonesy was in the military in Vietnam, but according to The Whirlwind (season nine, episode eight) he had already served in World War II.

Virginia died two years ago, in the year 1961.

Peter Fox plays Rev. Moseley. But beginning with The Hawk (season six, episode one), Peter Fox played Rev. Hank Buchanan.

The license plates on John’s old truck is T241-736 Virginia.

Two of Jason and Toni’s three boys are named after country-western singers, Roy (for Roy Acuff) and Merle (for Merle Haggard). The third boy’s name is not mentioned.

John-Boy’s girlfriend (Janet Gilchrist) is an editor for the magazine Harper’s Bazaar.

Olivia says she met John at the age of sixteen. But in an earlier episode it is stated that they were childhood sweethearts who grew up together.

Miss Emily attended the Young Ladies Seminary.

Ashley Longworth, Sr. attended the University of Virginia.

John says that Zeb has been dead for fifteen years, but according to The Empty Nest (season seven, episode one) Grandpa died in 1941, twenty-two years ago.


Also appearing:

Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston), Toni Hazelton Walton (Lisa Harrison), Rose (Peggy Rea), Clay (Christian Cousins), Katie (Emily Ann Lloyd), Verdie Grant (Lynn Hamilton), Janet Gilchrist (Kate McNeil), Miss Mamie and Miss Emily Baldwin (Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson), Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner), Aimee Godsey (Rachel Longaker), Drew Cutler (Tony Becker), Reverend Mosely (Peter Fox), Jeff Dulaney (Steven Culp), Assistant D.A. Al Sampson (James Karen), Deputy Sheriff Walt Gilmore (Stanley Grover), Newsman (Joseph Chapman).