Ellen Corby

Died April 14, 1999

"LOS ANGELES — Ellen Corby, 87, who won three Emmys for playing the strong grandmother on the hit 1970s TV series "The Waltons," died April 14 at a hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. The cause of death was not reported.

In a career that spanned nearly 60 years and nearly 100 feature films, she generally played modest characters in a rich and textured way. But it was her role as Esther, the matriarch in "The Waltons," opposite Will Geer, who played grandfather Zeb, that made her a fixture in the hearts of television viewers.

She won Emmy awards for her work on the series in 1973, 1975 and 1976 and a Golden Globe in 1974. The series, a gentle saga about an extended family living in the backwoods of Virginia during and after the Depression, personified the notion of family values. The show was inspired by a 1971 Christmas movie for television, "The Homecoming," which was based on Earl Hamner Jr.'s novel about his own real-life family.

The show ran from 1972 to 1981, but Miss Corby's participation was cut short by a stroke in the late 1970s. She eventually recovered enough to appear in many of the Walton reunion movies that appeared after the series left the air. Her last appearance was on a TV special in 1997, "A Waltons Easter." Miss Corby was born Ellen Hansen in Racine, Wisconsin."

(©Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company)

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