‘The Waltons’ Star That Didn’t Become An Actor Until They Were 77


Merie Earle played Maude Gormley on The Waltons. She actually didn’t begin acting until she was 77 years old, which proves you’re never too old to start anything! The character Maude appeared about 15 times during the show’s run and she was often seen helping at the church, baking, or being a generally nice lady.

For most of her life, Merie was a housewife. She once joked that she “had always been a ham” and began performing in church plays when she and her husband moved to Los Angeles. She was in a play with a talent agent’s son and he thought she would make a great actress!


Merie Earle (Maude Gormley) on ‘The Waltons’ didn’t act until she was 77 years old

Merie Earle on ‘The Waltons’ / Lorimar Television

In addition to appearing on The Waltons, you may also remember her in Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, and Petticoat Junction. Merie appeared in several movies as well until she passed away at the age of 95.


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THE WALTONS, top, from left: Eric Scott, Jon Walmsley, Richard Thomas, Will Geer, Ellen Corby, middle row, from left: Kami Cotler, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, bottom, from left: David W. Harper, Judy Norton-Taylor, Mary Beth McDonough, (1970s), 1971-1981. TV Guide / © CBS / Courtesy Everett Collection

Merie had never received any training so it seems she was a natural! Unfortunately, there was one dream she had that didn’t come true. She was scheduled to make her Broadway debut when she was 88 years old. However, she fractured a hip during rehearsal and had to withdraw from the production of Paul Zindel’s Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

C.P.O. SHARKEY, from left: Don Rickles, Merie Earle in ‘Sharkey Finds Peace and Quiet’ (Season 1, Episode 11, aired March 2, 1977), 1976-78 / Everett Collection

When she got older, she was also a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She truly was a great lady and we are so glad that she was able to follow her dreams! Did you like her character, Maude, on The Waltons?

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