Whatever happened to the characters in the original series of "The Waltons"? - G.S., Northville, Mich.

THE SERIES: "The Waltons," CBS, 1972-81. Created by Earl Hamner Jr., based on his boyhood in Schuyler, Va. The first treatment was the 1963 feature film "Spencer's Mountain," set in Wyoming and starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara and James MacArthur. The pilot for the series was the 1971 TV movie "The Homecoming" with Patricia O'Neal, Andrew Duggan and Edgar Bergen.THE CAST: Ralph Waite (John Walton), 64, ran for Congress in 1990 and lost. He stars as Kevin Costner's father in "The Bodyguard." Michael Learned (Olivia Walton), 53, left the series in 1980, currently is touring in "Love Letters." Will Geer (Grandpa Walton) died at 76 in 1978. Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton), 79, was seldom seen after a 1976 stroke, lives in Los Angeles. Richard Thomas (John Boy), 41, left the show in 1979, works primarily in the theater. Judy Norton (Mary Ellen), 34, posed for Playboy in 1985, works in the theater. Jon Walmsley (Jason), 36, married Lisa Harrison, who played Toni on the show, and plays in a country rock band. Eric Scott (Ben), 33, is vice president of a messenger service. Mary McDonough (Erin), 31, does an occasional piece for "Entertainment Tonight." David W. Harper (Jim Bob), 31, is a painter. Kami Cotler (Elizabeth), 27, is a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley and intends to teach high-school English.

SINCE THE SERIES ENDED: There were three 1982 "Waltons" specials: "A Wedding on Walton's Mountain," "Mother's Day on Walton's Mountain" and "A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain." This past October, most of the cast gathered for the opening of the Walton's Mountain Museum in Schuyler, Va.

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