‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Explains Why Morgan Stevens’ Paul Was ‘Not Endearing’ Himself To the Family in One Episode

by Suzanne Halliburton

Morgan Stevens first official introduction to The Waltons didn’t go so well, at least not initially.

Now, Erin fell head over heels the first time she met her future husband on The Waltons. But her brother Ben didn’t much like the lumber salesman. However, the family bonded over supper and some shared values.

Judy Norton does a weekly behind-the-scenes web series on The Waltons. She devoted this week’s episode to Stevens, who died last month at the age of 70. His official cause of death was heart disease.

As fans of The Waltons know, Stevens portrayed Erin’s eventual husband, Paul Northridge. The two met in a 1981 episode called “The Lumberjack.” Stevens also appeared on The Waltons in 1979 as another character.

Norton, who portrayed oldest daughter Mary Ellen. explained that Paul and her brother, Ben, got off on the wrong foot. Blame a business deal.

Northridge, Norton explained, “has not endeared himself to other members of the family when he comes to try and do business with Ben as he’s running the mill and the co-op in John’s absence.

“Paul is selling lumber at a higher price because he says it’s seasoned wood, and he feels it’s important to sustain the forest. He doesn’t believe in cutting immature trees down (because it) impacts the forest.”

Norton observes that this sort of idea “was ahead of its time in 1940.” By this point in the episode, Erin and Paul also had met each other, although Ben didn’t know it.

“Erin invites Paul to supper with the family,” The Waltons star said. “Ben is not happy to see Paul there. But as dinner progresses and Paul talks about how the trees are important to him … Ben is reminded of how John and Grandpa share those same values and that’s always been an important, how The Waltons feel about the mountain and they’re responsibility to the land.”

Spoiler Alert: Stevens Returned for The Waltons Reunion Movie to Marry Erin

As we all know, each episode of The Waltons featured a narrated prologue and an epilogue. Here’s the intro for this episode featuring Paul and Erin:

“As the memories of war began to fade, our lives took on the more natural rhythms of daily life. Spring came to the mountain and the dogwood and the redbud blossomed beneath the evergreen pines. Erin’s heart had been sorely tried by the war and for a long time she carried a secret wound. When love did come to claim Erin again she welcomed it with her usual spirit. It was the rest of the family that was left breathless.”

The two met in Ike Godsey’s general store. And Erin told her sisters that she met the man of her dreams. However, she didn’t know that Paul came from a rich family. John Boy figured out Paul’s background. Then Paul’s domineering Dad became an issue. But Erin and Paul patched things up.

Let’s look to the epilogue for a clue:

“Romance for Erin always seemed to take her along a rocky road. But the rough beginning with Paul Northridge hopefully indicated a smooth ending. Only time would tell if their relationship would endure.”

When did Stevens next appear on The Waltons? He was the special guest star of a reunion movie called  Wedding on Walton’s Mountain.