Mom Olivia from ‘The Waltons’ Amazes with Blonde Bob at 84 – She ‘Loved’ Her TV Husband Yet They Married Other Co-stars

    Michael Learned, a.k.a. Mom Olivia Walton from “The Waltons,” stunned fans with her blonde bob at 84!

    The actress “loved” her TV husband, Ralph Waite, and opened up about their relationship.

    Both Michael and Ralph found love with their much younger “The Waltons” co-stars after their hearts were broken.

    Michael Learned, widely known for playing Olivia Walton in the hit TV drama, “The Waltons,” celebrated her 84th birthday on April 9, 2023. Countless fans gathered on social media to wish the actress a happy birthday and thank her for the years of entertainment she offered them.

    Many of her co-workers and friends also took to Facebook to mark her big day. Even at her age, Learned stunned fans with a beautiful blonde bob. Besides being a multiple Emmy Award winner, Learned is also a doting mom and grandma.

    Michael Learned in "The Waltons" on September 20, 1977 | Source: Getty Images

    The Washington D.C. native was raised in England, where she attended boarding school. Here, she discovered her love for acting and honed her craft. At the age of 17, she met her first husband and had three children, although she eventually divorced and remarried three more times.

    Learned’s time on “The Waltons” significantly shaped her life.

    These days, Learned spends much of her time doting on her grandchildren. She shared that the little ones have adorably nicknamed her “My Granny Mikey,” and that she adores being a grandmother. Admittedly, Learned often spoils her grandchildren, sneaking them candy without their parents knowing. The actress shared:

    “I just melt and want to say, ‘You want some candy? Take two, they’re small. Just don’t let mommy know!’”

    Fans and friends wished Learned the best with one writing, “Happy Birthday. Michael Learned. I saw your interview on you tube sensational you still got that energy and spark and loved you in the Waltons (sic).” Another commented, “Michael is amazing!! Happy birthday Michael (sic).” Fans also described the aging beauty as “sensational,” and said she still looks fantastic.

    What Relationship Did Michael Learned Have with Her TV Husband Ralph Waite?
    Learned’s time on “The Waltons” significantly shaped her life. The actress has confessed that her on-screen romance with her co-star Waite often translated into real life. The two were reportedly “in love” off-screen but never pursued a romantic relationship.

    Following their divorces, Learned and Waite were both downtrodden and had little hope of finding love again.

    Michael Learned and Ralph Waite in "The Waltons," 1973 | Source: Getty Images

    Learned opened up about her relationship with her co-star, saying, “I loved him very much. And we loved each other as much as anybody could love anybody.” They even bickered like a real family and often had to mend fences after a particularly persistent argument. Learned recalled:

    “If we weren’t getting along, I couldn’t stand it. I remember once we had a spat about some stupid thing. I just had to go knock on his dressing room door. I was crying. Just in tears. We were truly family, with all the ups and downs that come with it, except there was no prior baggage.”

    They never formed a physical relationship, though. Learned instead described their bond as “spiritual.” Waite also mentioned that he and his on-screen wife were like family. He noted that it was almost impossible not to become so close after working together for seven years.

    Nonetheless, Learned and Waite kept things professional for the sake of the cast. The two had both gone through tremendous heartbreak in their life and didn’t want their personal lives to seep into the show. While working together, the two bonded over the pain of going through a divorce.

    Michael Learned and Ralph Waite in "The Waltons," on January 1, 1974 | Source: Getty Images

    Learned had experienced two divorces, while Waite faced one painful one. The actor noted that his divorce seemed like the last time he would love in his life. Luckily, both Learned, and Waite managed to move on after their divorces, finding new love and spending their lives with the ones they love, much like their co-star Mary Ellen.

    Which Co-stars Did Michael Learned and Ralph Waite Marry?
    Following their divorces, Learned and Waite were both downtrodden and had little hope of finding love again. Over time, however, they each met new people through “The Waltons.”

    Waite was linked to the actress Kerry Shear, who guest starred on the TV show, and the couple eventually married in 1977.

    Much like Learned, Waite’s marriage to his “The Waltons” co-star also failed.

    Although Shear was 20 years younger than Waite, the two loved each other dearly. They had known each other since 1996, but it took Waite almost eight years to finally find the courage to propose again after his divorce. Two years after they married, Shear appeared in “The Waltons,” which launched her acting career.

    Learned also found love again through the TV show. She started dating one of the writers of “The Waltons,” William Parker. Besides contributing to the show’s script, Parker also made an appearance as a guest star in a single episode. Eventually, the two, who had a 12-year age difference between them, moved in together and ended up marrying in 1979.

    William Parker and Michael Learned in New York City, circa 1979 | Source: Getty Images

    Learned had been married twice before she and Parker got together. Her first marriage to Peter Donat ended in 1972, and she was married to Glenn Chadwick from 1974 – 1977. Learned and Parker spent a few years together, but their union ultimately didn’t last. Eventually, in 1991, she found love that would.

    Learned’s fourth and final husband is John Doherty. The two have been married for over three decades, and are still together.

    Much like Learned, Waite’s marriage to his “The Waltons” co-star also failed. Waite and Shear only spent about four years together, finally going their separate ways in 1981.

    Although his divorce from Sheare was painful, the actor struggled most after his first divorce from Beverly Hall in 1966. At the time, he seriously doubted whether he would ever get over the pain, and he remarked a few years later:

    “Our separation was so painful that I never allowed myself to consider marriage again.”

    Luckily, he moved on again in 1982 with Linda East. Waite and East were happily married until his death in 2014 at the age of 85.

    Like Learned, Waite only had children with his first wife. The actor and Hall had three daughters together. Learned also shares three kids with Donat.

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