‘Waltons’ Actor Joe Conley Dies at 85

Courtesy of Everett Collection

He played general store owner Ike Godsey through all nine seasons of the CBS family drama.

Joe Conley, who played general store proprietor Ike Godsey on the beloved CBS family drama The Waltons, has died, his co-star Mary Beth McDonough reported Monday on her Facebook page. He was 85.

Conley had dementia and died July 7 at a care facility in the Thousand Oaks community of Newbury Park, his wife, Louise, told the Los Angeles Times.

Conley appeared in 172 of the 212 episodes of Earl Hamner Jr.’s The Waltons -- which debuted with a December 1971 pilot and then ran for nine seasons through June 1981 -- as well as in all six of the Lorimar series’ reunion telefilms. (Woodrow Parfrey played Ike in the series’ two-hour pilot titled “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.”)

As the owner of General Merchandise in the years following the Great Depression, Conley rode a 1927 motorcycle, did a bit of singing and suffered a heart attack in a memorable season-seven episode. His character got married to the bossy Corabeth Walton (Ronnie Claire Edwards) in the third season.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., whose grandfather was a traveling medicine man and mother a vaudevillian, Conley broke into show business as a child radio star.

He moved west in 1945 to attend Loyola University and appeared in college plays, then served in the Korean War and was wounded. Later, while at Arizona State, he was cast in a production of The Sound of Fury and landed a small role in the Lloyd Bridges film that was released in 1950, jumpstarting his career.

Conley went on to appear on dozens of TV shows, including six episodes of Mister Ed and stints on The People’s Choice, Lassie, Make Room for Daddy, Dragnet, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Dennis the Menace, Gunsmoke and Green Acres.

His résumé also includes the films Crime of Passion (1957), Blueprint for Robbery (1961) and Cast Away (2000) and scores of TV commercials.

A successful businessman, Conley at one time owned a string of real estate offices and a restaurant in the San Fernando Valley.

In addition to Louise, his wife of 44 years, survivors include his children Kevin, Julie, Erin and Jana.