The Homecoming: A Christmas Story is a 1971 made-for-TV movie. It served as the pilot for the long-running television series The Waltons.
It is 1933, during the Great Depression, and being Christmas Eve, the Walton family is in the midst of their Christmas preparations and hoping to celebrate it together. The problem is that there are many events which seem to prevent John from arriving home to share this Christmas with his family. Olivia is wishing and hoping that he will make it home, the children are rushing to the door to see of the noises they hear are their Daddy, and John-Boy is heading out into the snowy night to try to find him. Eventually John walks through the door and the first Walton Christmas "miracle" has occurred.
- Most of the familiar cast of the TV series is featured in the movie, with the notable exceptions of the parents and grandfather. Patricia Neal and Andrew Duggan play Olivia and John Walton. In the series, their characters would be portrayed by Michael Learned and Ralph Waite. Grandpa Zeb Walton, played here by Edgar Bergen, was later played by Will Geer in the series.
- Patricia Neal's performance as Olivia was nominated for the 1972 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie; however, she lost to Glenda Jackson.
|Patricia Neal||Olivia Walton|
|Andrew Duggan||John Walton|
|Edgar Bergen||Grandpa Zeb Walton|
|Ellen Corby||Grandma Esther Walton|
|Richard Thomas||John-Boy Walton|
|Jon Walmsley||Jason Walton|
|Judy Norton-Taylor||Mary Ellen Walton|
|Eric Scott||Ben Walton|
|Mary Beth McDonough||Erin Walton|
|David W. Harper||Jim-Bob Walton|
|Kami Cotler||Elizabeth Walton|