Grandma Walton, played by Ellen Corby, was a beloved character in the popular 1970s television show, The Waltons. But did Grandma Walton have a stroke in real life? The answer is Yes.

Real Life Stroke Events

In February 1977, Ellen Corby (age 67) suffered a major stroke which hindered her ability to walk and speak. After lengthy treatment and care, Corby was able to return to the set of The Waltons a year later.

In a show of solidarity with Corby’s real-life situation, a storyline was written into the show where Grandma Walton experiences a stroke. In the show, other family members saw her as she was taken out of the house and participated in her treatment and recovery in subsequent episodes.

Grandma Walton’s Legacy

Grandma Walton’s stroke was not only an integral part of the show, it has been an inspiration to many people who have experienced a stroke in real life. Since the story arc was introduced, the Walton’s have become the unofficial spokespersons for stroke awareness.

Although Grandma Walton’s stroke was portrayed on television, Ellen Corby fully recovered and went on to appear in over 30 films and television shows after her stroke. Corby passed away in 1999, but she left behind a legacy of strength, resilience and courage for those who have experienced a stroke.


The answer to the original question is Yes, Grandma Walton did have a stroke in real life. Ellen Corby, who portrayed Grandma Walton, experienced a major stroke in 1977. Although her recovery was quite lengthy, Corby was able to return to the set of The Waltons a year later and Grandma Walton’s stroke was written into the show’s storyline. The show’s depiction of Grandma Walton’s stroke has been an inspiration for those who have experienced a stroke in real life. Our hope is that through the power of television, more people become aware of stroke symptoms and seek appropriate treatments and care.

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