Michael Learned was born in Washington, D.C. in 1939. Her early career included appearances in shows such as "The Doris Day Show," "Ironside," "Gunsmoke," "Police Story" and "The Streets of San Francisco." She also appeared on stage, with roles in many productions.
She joined the cast of The Waltons as Olivia when it was decided to make a series after the success of the television movie The Homecoming. Learned stayed with the series until 1978, and won several Emmy awards for her role. She reprised her role as Olivia in subsequent tv movies about The Waltons, and went on to other roles in series such as "Nurse," "Living Dolls," "Scrubs" and "General Hospital."