‘The Waltons’ Stars Judy Norton and Tom Bower Learned a Lot From Will Geer

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Judy Norton played Mary Ellen Walton for the entire run of The Waltons. Additionally, she was in the Christmas special that started the series as well as the subsequent made-for-TV movies. In the fifth season The Waltons, showrunners introduced a new character, Dr. Curtis Willard or just plain Curt, played by Tom Bower. Before long, Curt and Mary Ellen tied the knot.

Their relationship on the show lasted until WWII called Curt away. Later, the Walton family learned that Curt during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Finally, Curt washed up on a shore somewhere and the family learned that he was alive. However, someone else took over the role. But, it seems that Judy Norton and Tom Bower kept in touch over the years.

Today, Judy Norton hosts a web series in which she takes fans of The Waltons behind the scenes of the classic show. Sometimes, she’ll take questions from her fans. Other times, she’ll break down entire episodes of the show or broad concepts relating to it. However, Norton is usually alone for these shows. In the most recent installment, Judy reunited with her old on-screen husband, Tom Bower. They talked about his experience on the show. At one point, Bower brought up Will Geer, who played Grandpa Walton.

Judy Norton and Tom Bower Learned a Lot from Will Geer

As Tom Bowen was walking down memory lane with Judy Norton, he started talking about lessons he learned on the show. He said he found much of his time on the show to be educational. This is especially true when it came to spending time with Will Geer.

“There were a number of other things that were quite a teaching benefit. Just being around Will, what he knew about horticulture or unionism in America, or what he knew about Woody Guthrie.” Bower went on to say that Geer and Guthrie were friends. In general, Bower said that Geer, “Would teach you a lesson about everything in life if you just stuck around and kept your ears open.” So, it seems that Will Geer didn’t just play a wise grandfather on TV. He was quick to share his hard-earned wisdom with the younger generation even if the cameras weren’t rolling.

Judy Norton agreed. She added, “Will was always fascinating to work with.” However, she didn’t benefit as much from his wisdom. “I think coming in as a teenager, for me, I didn’t always know how to utilize some of the people I was privileged enough to work with.”

Overall, Judy Norton recalled working with several stars over the course of her time on The Waltons. But, she didn’t know what questions she should ask them in order to truly learn from them. “I missed so many opportunities,” she admitted.