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|Also Known As:||Died:|
|Born:||April 9, 1939||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Washington, Washington D.C., USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor|
Intelligent, sometimes with a stern aura, yet attractive, warm and inviting, Michael Learned was a stage actress virtually unknown to TV viewers when she was cast as Olivia Walton, mother of John-Boy and the others, in the long-running CBS series "The Waltons" (1972-81). Assuming the role that Patricia Neal had originated in a TV-movie special, Learned was so unknown that she was originally billed as "Miss Michael Learned" lest the audience be confused as to her gender and about which part she was playing. A mother of three by the time she was 24, Learned had honed her craft primarily at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, where she performed leading roles in such classics as "Under Milk Wood", "Tartuffe" and "Private Lives". Recently separated from her first husband actor Peter Donat when she was cast in "The Waltons", she remained with the series until 1980 (a year before it ended its run), when her character was sent away with tuberculosis. During her tenure on the series, Learned earned three Best Actress Emmy Awards (in 1973, 1974 and 1976) for her turn as the stalwart matriarch. The actress made several attempts to recapture her TV success with the medically themed "Nurse" (CBS, 1981-82), which earned her a fourth Emmy, and as a doctor working in a psychiatric clinic in the short-lived "Hothouse" (ABC, 1988). In 1989, she tried sitcoms as den mother for models on ABC's "Living Dolls", a spin-off from "Who's the Boss?", which also starred Halle Berry.
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