‘The Waltons’: How Elizabeth Actor Kami Cotler Got Her Role on Show

by Evan Reier

You can tell The Waltons star Kami Cotler’s mom got things done her way just by listening to her daughter tell the tale of her audition.

Every person needs some form of support, and a good mom is that for many of us. But for Kami Cotler, it wasn’t just support. Her mom set the tone for self-respect and doing things her own way. For the actress behind Elizabeth Walton, that was evidenced best in her audition for the role.

In an interview with Cinephiled, Cotler broke down the story.

“[Casting managers would] call my mom and say, ‘Hello, Mrs. Cotler, can Kami be in Hollywood today at 4?’ Well, my parents both worked and we lived in Orange County so my mother would say, ‘No.’ They’d say, ‘What?!’ and she’d tell them that I could be there at so-and-so a time the next day. ‘But that’s not how it works, Mrs. Cotler!’ they’d scream and yet I’d still get the audition.”

Enough said. Mrs. Cotler didn’t budge, and it ended up paying dividends.

‘The Waltons’ Was First Acting Kami Cotler Ever Did

Funnily enough, it seems that “get it done my way” attitude was already in Cotler from a young age. When asked about how she got the audition for “Homecoming,” the film that The Waltons spun off from, she explained that she badgered her mom to try out.

“[Homecoming] was the very first thing I ever did,” Cotler said. “It all started for me when I went to get some photos taken for my grandmother. I was really small for my age and I never stopped talking and the photographer told my mother that he thought I could do commercial work.

“According to my mom, I kept harassing her about it until she finally sent the photos we took that day to the agent the photographer had recommended. My mom figured I’d do it for a couple of weeks until I got bored.”

Several years and seasons later, and Cotler was still on the show and in the acting world.

Before Life on the Mountain, Cotler Almost Starred in Dodge City

When it comes to classic TV, every actor has a ton of guest appearances elsewhere. Go look up anyone from The Waltons cast and you’ll see stuff like Richard Thomas appearing on Tales from the Crypt.

Cotler has a few herself, but one she missed was with Gunsmoke. The reason why is better than any appearance she could’ve made as a young girl.

“I remember a Gunsmoke audition where I had to cough and I couldn’t remember how so I didn’t get it.”

That is, truly, one of the funniest scenarios I’ve ever heard. A step away from being on one of the biggest shows ever but a young Kami Cotler couldn’t quite remember a basic human function. Oh, there’s also the story of refusing a gig due to peanut butter.

“I went out for something where I had to eat a piece of bread with peanut butter on it and say how good it was but I didn’t like peanut butter so I wouldn’t do it!”