Was Will Geer Gay? Was Grandpa Walton Really Gay?

Will Geer, born on March 9, 1902, was an American actor, musician, and social activist. He is best known for playing Grandpa Zeb Walton on the TV show The Waltons. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was active in labor movements in New York and Southern California. This article explores whether Will Geer was gay, looking at the different views and observations that have sparked this discussion.

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Quick Facts About Will Geer (Grandpa Walton)

Full NameWilliam Aughe Ghere
Known AsWill Geer
Date of BirthMarch 9, 1902
Place of BirthFrankfort, Indiana, U.S.
Date of DeathApril 22, 1978
Place of DeathLos Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationsActor, Musician, Social Activist
Years Active1927–1978
SpouseHerta Ware (m. 1934; div. 1954)
Children3, including Ellen Geer
GrandchildrenWillow Geer
Notable RolesGrandpa Zebulon “Zeb” Walton in The Waltons
EducationMaster’s degree in Botany, University of Chicago
ActivismIn the 1950s Hollywood after refusing, in testimony before Congress, to name persons who had joined the Communist Party
BlacklistedIn the 1950s by Hollywood after refusing, in testimony before Congress, to name persons who had joined the Communist Party

Was Will Geer Gay?

Was Will Geer Gay

Indeed, Will Geer was recognized to have had relationships with both sexes. One of his relationships led to a marriage between him and Herta Ware, the actress, in 1934, and they were blessed with three children. 

Nonetheless, he had a homosexual affair with Harry Hay. 

It is vital to know that terms used to describe sexual orientation and gender identity change over time and vary across cultures. It is always essential, however, to respect how individuals choose to identify themselves sexually or other related matters.

Why Does Speculation Begin About His Gender?

Did He Face Any Challenges Because Of His Sexual Orientation

As a result of having a friendship with Harry Hay, a key figure in the history of gay rights, people assume William Geer to have been gay. It is said that Geer and Hay were homosexuals who, together with the latter’s membership in the Communist Party, made him like this. 

Furthermore, his daughter states that she had heard her father was a homosexual communist, and he has documented involvement with queer communities as well as other pro-gay activities. These make Will Geer seem like someone who must be gay, or so it seems.

Did He Face Any Challenges Because Of His Sexual Orientation?

Yes, Will Geer faced difficulties because of his sexual orientation. Even though he was a well-known actor, Geer was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for his political beliefs and connections, including being part of the Communist Party and supporting gay rights. 

This blacklisting impacted his career and personal life, forcing him to move his family to an abandoned canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains during the hard times.

Society’s views on homosexuality likely added to the challenges Geer faced, especially given his relationship with Harry Hay and his daughter’s description of him as a “gay communist.”

These factors show that Will Geer encountered discrimination and difficulties due to his sexual orientation during his lifetime.


Was Will Geer’s sexuality publicly known during his lifetime?

People did not widely know Will Geer was gay when he was alive. It became more known after he died.

Did Will Geer’s sexuality impact his role on The Waltons?

Even though Geer was gay in real life, he played the role of a straight grandfather on The Waltons very well. His sexuality did not affect his acting in this part.

What was Will Geer’s contribution to the LGBTQ+ community?

Geer’s openness and relationship with Harry Hay, an important gay rights leader, helped increase the community’s visibility and acceptance.

Did Will Geer ever publicly come out as gay?

While Geer had relationships with men, there is no record of him officially stating he was gay during his life.

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