Earl Hamner, Jr. (1923-2016)

Earl Hamner with his book of Twilight Zone scripts.

Earl Hamner with his book of Twilight Zone scripts.

Creator of The Waltons and Falcon Crest and author of eight Twilight Zone episodes, Earl Hamner, Jr., passed away March 24. He was 92 and had been diagnosed with cancer in June 2014.

Hamner was the eldest of eight children from a rural Virginia family. He won a scholarship to college but after two years of study World War II intervened and he was drafted into the Army. When stationed in Paris, he said, “for a while I fell so in love with that city that I nearly left my own country behind.”

Hamner married Jane Martin in 1954 and they had two children. While they were living in New York, he got his start writing for such TV shows as The Kate Smith Hour and Justice.

He later moved to California: “When I came from New York to Hollywood in 1961 Rod Serling gave me my first job – an assignment on The Twilight Zone. That job opened the door to a lifelong career in television and film and I will always be in Rod’s debt.”

Earl Hamner, Jr.s Twilight Zone credits are “The Hunt” (1962), “A Piano in the House” (1962), “Jess-Belle” (1963), “Ring-a-Ding Girl“, (1963), “You Drive” (1964), “Black Leather Jackets” (1964), “Stopover in a Quiet Town” (1964), “The Bewitchin’ Pool” (1964).

Earl Hamner Jr. standing behind Ray

Earl Hamner Jr. (standing) behind Ray Bradbury (seated) during Bradbury’s 2009 birthday party at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop.

The early Sixties is also when Hamner’s novel was made into the movie Spencer’s Mountain, starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara, which was turned into the TV show, The Waltons.

His genre work includes the screen adaptation of Charlotte’s Web (1973).

Late in life Hamner often did signings at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, sometimes sharing a birthday party there with George Clayton Johnson (both men were born on July 10).

Earl Hamner Jr. and George Clayton Johnson at Myster & Imagination Bookshop in 2012. (Photo by John King Tarpinian.)

Earl Hamner Jr. and George Clayton Johnson at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in 2012. (Photo by John King Tarpinian.)

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4 thoughts on “Earl Hamner, Jr. (1923-2016)

  1. Aw, man. I loved Falcon Crest back in the day. I don’t know how well it holds up (Dallas doesn’t really), but I remember FC fondly.

  2. Here’s a better link to “The Hunt” (the one above leads to a disambiguation page, so there’s an extra step) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunt_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    I was tickled that the “Waltons” creator had written TZ episodes, and was speculating on what they would be like. “A family finds that they are the last seventeen people in the world,” maybe, but I noticed that this was already very similar to “It’s a GOOD Life,” so I just read the synopses of the ones he really did write, and recognized one of them. I felt like I’d seen most of the shows, but now it looks more like I saw a syndication package (more than once) of a selected subset.

    Well, I certainly did enjoy “The Waltons” when it was on. And Earl got to write the last-ever episode of the original TZ series, too (as well as the only one without a closing narration). Well done, Mr. Hamner.

  3. I was another huge fan of Falcon Crest back in the day, along with my mother and late grandmother. I had a huge crush on David Selby of all people.

    I liked The Waltons, too, but not quite as much as Falcon Crest. Never knew that Earl Hamner Jr. had also worked on The Twilight Zone.

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