Will Geer

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Will Geer (March 9, 1902 – April 22, 1978) was an actor and Communist activist best known for his portrayal of Grandpa Zebulon Walton in the TV series The Waltons.

Geer brought homosexual activist Harry Hay into Communist thought, recruited him into the Communist Party of the United States and was also involved in a homosexual affair with him for a brief time in 1934 before ending the affair to marry actress and activist Herta Ware later that year, remaining married for 20 years and producing three children, including actress Ellen Geer, from the marriage. He was blacklisted from Hollywood in the 1950s for his refusal to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and he seldom acted thereafter until the mid-1960s, when he resumed acting on-screen, appearing primarily on television but also taking some movie roles.

In 1972, he was cast in the role he is best remembered for today when he began playing Grandpa Walton on The Waltons, a role he played until his death on April 22, 1978 in Los Angeles due to respiratory failure. With Geer's death, his Grandpa Walton character was written out of The Waltons as having also died.