WILL GEER, American actor, was born on this date (d. 1978); An American actor. Geer’s real name was William Aughe Ghere. He is best known for his portrayal of the character Grandpa Walton, in the popular 1970s TV series The Waltons. Geer was a social activist, touring government work camps in the 1930s with folk singers like Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie, and participating in the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike.

In his biography, fellow organizer and Gay Rights pioneer Harry Hay details Geer’s involvement in these strikes, and their intimate relationship while organizing for the strike. Geer is credited with introducing Guthrie to Pete Seeger at the Grapes of Wrath benefit Geer organized in 1940 for migrant farm workers.