Victor French and Ned Beatty on the Waltons

I saw an episode of the Waltons today with Victor French–Isaiah Edwards on Little House on the Prairie, and Mark Gordon on Highway to Heaven. He didn’t have a beard! He didn’t even have a heavy mustache, which he generally had on Gunsmoke. But he had the same gruff, folksy mannerisms, and he was good with kids, as he was on the Michael Landon shows.

On the Waltons, Victor French played the same role that Ned Beatty had in the 1973 episode, The Bicycle. The Waltons often had different people play the same part: Todd Bridges and two other actors played Josh Foster, and there were two John-Boys. But I think Victor French was the right choice for the episode I saw today, The Fulfillment, which was about a man who bonded with an angry orphan.

I’ve not seen too many shows or movies in which Ned Beatty was good with kids. The only one that comes to mind is an episode of Highway to Heaven, in which Beatty plays the perfect television dad, who in real life is anything but. A couple of orphans want Beatty to adopt them, and Jonathan (Michael Landon) works to make Beatty more like his cheerful TV persona. But, even there, Beatty was not a natural with kids, as was Victor French. Who can forget Victor French’s funny faces on Highway to Heaven?

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
This entry was posted in Highway to Heaven, Michael Landon, Movies, Television, Waltons. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Victor French and Ned Beatty on the Waltons

  1. Byker Bob says:

    This entry really relates to the Christian actor question from yesterday. There are some excellent TV programs geared to families, and many of them do have Christian overtones. Little House on the Prarie was certainly one of them, as was the Waltons, Touched by an Angel, and Highway to Heaven.

    I’ve also noticed that some of the latest Jerry Bruckheimer TV series, such as Cold Case, have some very touching and humane aspects to them, rooted in Judeo-Christian traditions and ethics.

    BB

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  2. James Pate says:

    Hy Byker Bob,

    I’ll have to check Cold Case out. I think that Little House had clear Christian overtones, since it talked openly about God. But it’s Christianity was mostly about doing the right thing, and that was pretty much the case with Highway to Heaven. You didn’t see much about accepting Christ’s sacrifice.

    The Waltons is a lot more nuanced, since not all of the characters go to church, and there are a lot of debates on it about religion and how to find God.

    Probably the most evangelical of the series you mentioned is Touched by an Angel. Even though it said that Jews could go to heaven without Christ on a few episodes, it comes closest to evangelical-ese of many spiritual shows I’ve seen. “Hell is eternal separation from God.” “You need to root your identity on God’s love for you.” Touched even did a plug for Intelligent Design! The show that comes in second on evangelical-ese is Joan of Arcadia.

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