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[Deathwatch] Marion Hamner Hawkes, real-life 'Mary Ellen Walton', 74

Real-life 'Mary Ellen Walton' dies
Sister of 70s TV creator was 74

Thursday, November 25, 2004

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (AP) -- Marion Hamner Hawkes, a
tomboy-turned-nurse who inspired the character of Mary Ellen on
television's "The Waltons," has died following a long illness. She was

Hawkes, who died Monday, was the sister of the show's creator, Earl
Hamner Jr., who based the characters on his family and experiences
growing up in rural Virginia during the Depression.

And just like the character in the show, Hawkes was the oldest daughter
who was every bit as rough-and-tumble as her brothers.

Hawkes graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in
nursing and spent years working in the field. Like Hawkes, the
character of Mary Ellen also grew up to become a nurse.

"The Waltons," a ratings hit for CBS from 1972 to 1981, told the
stories of a large, close-knit family in Virginia's Blue Ridge
Mountains through the narrative of the oldest son, John Boy, an
aspiring writer.

Over the years, thousands of "Waltons" fans trooped to the Nelson
County town of Schuyler to visit Hamner's real-life boyhood home, which
was the model for the one depicted in the show. Hamner eventually sold
the home.