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Michael Learned ACTOR


Michael Learned is an American television and film actress mostly recognized for her role as Olivia Walton in “The Waltons”, as well as for her involvement in many TV movies. She was born on April 9, 1939, in Washington D.C., but grew up on a farm in Connecticut. Her father was a U.S. State Department employee, and when she was eleven, her family was relocated to Austria. While attending a boarding school in England, Learned realized her love of the theater and thus decided to become an actress. She appeared in a number of theater productions, but didn’t appear on the screen until 1961, on the TV show “Festival”. She was in a few more television episodes before she was seen performing in another play, “Private Lives”, by producer Lee Rich. He liked her so much, he chose her to play the mother in the CBS drama, “The Waltons” (1972-81). The show was about a rural family’s daily problems and life during the Depression. Learned was perfect for the part, for she was already a mother of three by the age of twenty five and had previously lived on a farm.
Although due to her more masculine name, she was credited as ‘Miss Michael Learned’, as to not confuse the audience who were not familiar with the uprising actress.  In 1979, she did not renew her contract and only appeared on the show a few times before its cancellation in 1981. For her involvement in the show, she earned six Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She won the award three times- in 1973, 1974, and 1976. Learned not only received Emmy nominations, but was a nominee for four separate Golden Globes as well.
While working on “The Waltons”, she made also some TV appearances, like on “Gunsmoke” in 1973 and “Insight” in 1974. She moreover acted in some small screen movies, such as “Hurricane” (1974) and “It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy” (1974). Her next television feat was the TV film “Nurse” (1980), which turned into a series also called “Nurse” (1981-82) closely followed by "A Christmas Without Snow" (1980). Learned received an additional Emmy nomination for her role as Mary Benjamin in the drama, which she did win. She returned shortly as Olivia Walton for the special Walton reunion in the TV movie “Mother’s Day on Walton’s Mountain” (1982). She then performed in another medical themed show called “Hothouse” (1988), which only lasted seven episodes. In 1989, Learned nabbed the starring role in the unsuccessful “Living Dolls”, which was a spin off from another television series, “Who’s the Boss” (1989). During this decade, the actress additionally appeared in her first feature films: “Touched by Love” (1980) as Dr. Bell and “Power” (1986) as Governor Andrea Stannard. In the 1980's, she also acted in numerous made for TV movies, not limited to “A Deadly Business” (1986), “Picnic” (1986), “Mercy or Murder?” (1987), and “Roots: The Gift” (1989).
In the 1990's, Learned was again seen as her most notable role, Olivia Walton, in a collection of “The Waltons” television movies, including “A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion” (1993), “A Walton Wedding” (1995), and “A Walton Easter” (1997). She as well appeared in a large number of TV movies during this decade. They include: “Aftermath: A Test of Love” (1991), “Keeping Secrets” (1991), “Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Smart Story” (1991), “Mattie’s Waltz” (1992), and “A Father for Brittany” (1998). Learned was also a character in the large screen films “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” (1993) as Vivian Emery and “The Alarmist” (1997) as Beth Hudler. She did not appear in another non-television movie until 2005, when she performed in both “Loggerheads” and “Lethal Eviction”. However, she did act in a few TV series such as “Profiler” (1997) for three episodes, “One Life to Live” (2005) for two episodes, and “Scrubs” (2006-09) for eight episodes. Learned also made several guest appearances on other TV shows, like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2003), “All My Children” (2005), and “Cold Case” (2009).
Currently, the actress is involved in the award winning daytime drama “General Hospital” (2010) as character Shirley Smith. Furthermore, a movie that Learned is acting in, called “Algonquin”, is in the works and set to release in 2011.


2010  General Hospital

2009  Cold Case

2009  An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong

2007  The Killer

2006  Scrubs

2005  Lethal Eviction

2005  One Life to Live                  

2005  All My Children

2005  Loggerheads  

2003  Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

2000  Pensacola: Wings of Gold

2000  For the Love of May

1998  A Father for Brittany

1998  Promised Land

1998  Profiler

1997  The Alarmist

1997  A Walton Easter

1995  A Walton Wedding

1993  A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion

1993  Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story

1992  Mattie's Waltz

1991  Keeping Secrets

1991  Aftermath: A Test of Love

1990  Gunsmoke: The Last Apache

1990  Wiseguy

1989  Who's the Boss

1989  Murder, She Wrote

1988  Roots: The Gift

1988  Hothouse

1987  All My Sons

1987  Mercy or Murder?

1986  Picnic

1986  A Deadly Business

1986  Power

1984  St. Elsewhere

1984  The Parade

1982  Mother's Day on Waltons Mountain

1981  Nurse

1980  A Christmas Without Snow

1980  Touched By Love

1980  The Waltons: A Decade of the Waltons

1980  Off the Minnesota Strip

1980  Nurse

1978  Little Mo

1976  Widow

1974  Police Story

1974  It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy

1974  Hurricane

1973  Insight

1973  Gunsmoke

1968  Wojeck

1963  The Other Man

1962  Playdate

1961  Festival

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