Will Geer

Will Geer

  • Highest Rated: 100% Salt of the Earth (1954)
  • Lowest Rated: 20% Bandolero (1968)
  • Birthday: Mar 9, 1902
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • Though perhaps best remembered for portraying the wise and crusty Grandpa Zeb Walton on the long-running The Waltons (1972-1978), character actor Will Geer had been a staple in films and television for many years before that. He had also been a Broadway regular since his theatrical debut in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1928). Born William Auge Ghere in Frankfort, IN, his interest in acting began in high school. Geer studied botany at the University of Chicago and earned a master's in botany at Columbia. During his college days, Geer also appeared in student theater. Always a bit of a rebel with a genuine love of people and the land, Geer hooked up with folksingers Woody Guthrie and Burl Ives during the Depression to travel about and perform, mostly at government work camps. Even late in life, Geer described himself as a folklorist. Actress Helen Hayes wryly described him once as "the world's oldest hippie." He got his professional start with Eva Le Gallienne's National Repertory Company. During the '30s and '40s, Geer appeared often on Broadway. Beginning with The Misleading Lady in 1932, he began playing small occasional roles in films. By the late '40s, he had become a character actor in such films as Intruder in the Dust (1949). He often appeared in Westerns like Comanche Territory and Broken Arrow (1950). In 1951, after appearing in four films that year, Geer was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for refusing to answer their questions. Still, Geer managed to appear in at least one film, Salt of the Earth, a defiant, incendiary documentary look at a worker's strike led by the wives of abused salt miners in New Mexico that featured a production staff largely comprised of blackballed Hollywood artists. Other than that, Geer returned to Broadway until 1962 when Otto Preminger cast him as a Senate minority leader in Advise and Consent. During the '60s, the 6'2", 230-pound Geer was frequently cast in villainous roles. He often appeared on television throughout the decade in shows ranging from Gunsmoke to Hawaii 5-0 as well as playing a regular role on the short-lived series The Young Rebels (1970-1971). He was a key member of The Waltons from the pilot special through his death when the series was on summer hiatus in 1978. His was among the show's most popular characters and he is said to have patterned Zebulon Walton after producer/creator Earl Hamner's book character, himself, and his own grandfather, a successful sourdough during the California goldrush who sported a mustache and white hair similar to Geer's own. It was his grandfather who taught the actor to love nature and to study botany. In addition to his work on the popular family series, Geer also continued a busy feature-film and television-movie career. His last film appearance was in the highly regarded made-for-TV biography of Harriet Tubman, A Woman Called Moses (1978). His daughter, Ellen Geer, is also an actor.

Photos

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

46% Why Did I Get Married? ADR Cast Member $55.2M 2007
No Score Yet Unknown Powers Actor 2005
No Score Yet Clay Classics: Rip Van Winkle Actor 2005
No Score Yet Mysterious Miracles: World Beyond Death Actor 2005
No Score Yet A Woman Called Moses Garrett 1978
No Score Yet My Sister, My Love Zom 1978
No Score Yet Rip Van Winkle Actor 1978
No Score Yet The Waltons: A Christmas Carol Actor 1978
No Score Yet The Billion Dollar Hobo Choo-Choo Trayne 1978
No Score Yet Moving Violation Rockfield 1977
No Score Yet Bunco Actor 1977
No Score Yet The Blue Bird Grandfather 1976
No Score Yet The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery Dr. Simpson 1975
No Score Yet Hurricane Actor 1974
No Score Yet The Hanged Man Nameless 1974
57% Executive Action Ferguson 1973
No Score Yet Savage Joel Ryker 1973
No Score Yet Columbo Heideman 1973
No Score Yet Silence Crazy Jack 1973
No Score Yet The Waltons Zeb `Grandpa' Walton 1973
No Score Yet Napoleon and Samantha Grandpa 1972
No Score Yet The Rowdyman Stan 1972
95% Jeremiah Johnson Bear Claw 1972
No Score Yet Scarecrow Actor 1972
No Score Yet The Waltons The Children's Carol Actor 1972
No Score Yet Dear, Dead Delilah Roy Jurroe 1972
No Score Yet Brother John Doc Thomas 1971
No Score Yet Pieces of Dreams The Bishop 1970
No Score Yet The Brotherhood of the Bell Mike Patterson 1970
No Score Yet The Moonshine War Sheriff Baylor 1970
80% The Reivers Boss 1969
20% Bandolero Pop Chaney 1968
80% The President's Analyst Dr. Lee Evans 1967
84% In Cold Blood Prosecuting Attorney 1967
91% Seconds Boss 1966
No Score Yet Black like Me Actor 1964
75% Advise and Consent Senate Minority Leader 1962
100% Salt of the Earth Sheriff 1954
No Score Yet The Tall Target Homer Crowley 1951
No Score Yet Bright Victory Mr. Nevins 1951
No Score Yet Double Crossbones Tom Botts 1951
No Score Yet To Please a Lady Jack Mackay 1950
No Score Yet Convicted Convict Mapes 1950
89% Broken Arrow Ben Slade 1950
100% Winchester '73 Wyatt Earp 1950
100% Intruder in the Dust Sheriff Hampton 1949
No Score Yet Lust for Gold Deputy Ray Covin 1949
No Score Yet Johnny Allegro Schultzy 1949
No Score Yet Deep Waters Nick Driver 1948
No Score Yet Becky Sharp Actor 1935
No Score Yet The Mystery of Edwin Drood Villager 1935

TV

Rating

Title

Credit

Year

No Score Yet The Waltons
1972-1981
Zeb 'Grandpa' Walton Zeb `Grandpa' Walton
  • 1978
  • 1977
  • 1976
  • 1975
  • 1974
  • 1973
  • 1972
No Score Yet Columbo
1968-2003
Heideman
  • 1973
No Score Yet Kung Fu
1972-1975
Judge Marcus
  • 1973
No Score Yet Bewitched
1964-1972
George Washington
  • 1972
No Score Yet Bonanza
1959-1973
Ferris Callahan Zac Butler
  • 1971
  • 1970
  • 1969
No Score Yet Mission: Impossible
1966-1973
Doc
  • 1968

QUOTES FROM Will Geer CHARACTERS

Bear Claws
spring is slow in comin' this high
Bear Claws
Spring is slow in comin' this high.