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Washington, District of Columbia, USA
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Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Writer
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Michael Learned (born April 9, 1939) is an American actress, best known for her role as Olivia Walton in the long-running CBS drama series, The Waltons (1972-1979). She has won record four Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; three for The Waltons (1973, 74, 76), and one for Nurse (1982).
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Michael Learned (born April 9, 1939) is an American actress known for her role as Olivia Walton on The Waltons.
Learned was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Elizabeth Duane "Betti" (née Hooper) and Bruce Learned, a diplomat. Her maternal grandfather was an attaché for the United States Embassy in Rome. She lived on a Connecticut farm with her five sisters for the first ten years of her life. She was named Michael because her father, a diplomat, had wanted and expected to have a boy and had selected the name Michael in advance. When it was clear he had a daughter rather than a son, he decided to keep the name he had chosen. When she was 11, Learned moved to Austria, where her father worked for the U.S. State Department. At this time, she attended Arts Educational School, Tring now Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Tring, Hertfordshire, England. During this time, she discovered the theater and decided to make acting her life's work. In a 2002 article she wrote for Daily Word, a publication of the Unity Church, Learned states that at the time she was cast in The Waltons, she had "hit rock bottom". It was then, at age 32, that Learned realized she was an alcoholic. Taking herself to ex-husband Peter Donat's cabin on the California coast, Learned states she decided to "get sober" and that her time there was the beginning of a spiritual journey. Learned further stated in the article that she has been sober since 1977.
Learned has been married four times. Her first husband was Canadian-American actor Peter Donat, whom she married in 1956, when she was 17 years old. The marriage was dissolved in 1972. She had three children by this marriage: Caleb, Christopher and Lucas. Her second marriage, to Glenn Chadwick, lasted from 1975–1977, and ended in divorce. In 1979, she married actor/screenwriter William Parker. That marriage ended before her 1988 marriage to lawyer John Doherty; they reside in California.
She was billed as "Miss Michael Learned" on The Waltons because she was relatively unknown at the time, and producers did not want confusion among viewers about her gender. She was nominated for six Emmy Awards and won three for her role of Olivia Walton. In 1979, her contract was not renewed; some sources indicate that she opted not to re-sign with the show. Her character's abrupt disappearance was explained by Olivia developing tuberculosis and entering a sanatorium in Arizona. She made occasional guest appearances until the show's cancellation and later appeared in the four of the six Waltons reunion movies made during the 1980s and 1990s. For her portrayal of Olivia Walton, Learned was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards.
During her run as Olivia Walton, Learned and The Waltons co-star, Will Geer, appeared together in the 1974 made-for-TV movie, Hurricane.
Learned later starred as Nurse Mary Benjamin in the hospital drama Nurse, which ran on CBS during the 1981-82 season. Though the series was well received critically, it was not a ratings success and lasted only two seasons. Learned was nominated for two Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Lead Actress" and won yet another Emmy for this role in 1982.
She later had a starring role in the unsuccessful 1989 sitcom Living Dolls and reprises her Waltons role for a number of TV movies and reunions in the 1990s.
Learned played "Judge Helen Turner" on the ABC soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live as part of the "baby switch" storyline on both shows. In The Secret World of Alex Mack's second season, she guest starred as a ghost who regretted the decisions of her long-estranged granddaughter, revealed at the end to be the show's main villain, Danielle Atron. She also guest-starred in Scrubs as Mrs. Wilk in five episodes from the show's fifth season. She also played Shirley Smith on ABC's General Hospital.
In the fall of 2011, Learned played Katherine Chancellor on the CBS daytime drama, The Young and the Restless, filling in for Jeanne Cooper, who was on extended medical leave from the series.
In the late 1960s, Learned and her husband (Peter Donat) appeared in various roles with the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco.
She has appeared in many stage productions on Broadway, Off Broadway, and elsewhere, including the 2006–2007 national touring production of On Golden Pond. In the fall of 2008 she starred in Innovation Theatre Works' production of Driving Miss Daisy, playing the title role of Daisy Werthen opposite Willis Burks II as Hoke and Dirk Blocker as Daisy's son Boolie.
Elizabeth Duane "Betti" Hooper
Chris (son), Caleb (son), Lucas (son)
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