‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Discusses Schooling While Filming Iconic Series

by Clayton Edwards

Have you ever wondered what life is like for child actors outside of their work? For instance, what is the school experience like for a child who works in the film and television industry? Well, Judy Norton answered that question recently.

Judy Norton played Mary Ellen, the eldest daughter on The Waltons s for the series’ entire nine-season run as well as the numerous made-for-TV movies about the iconic family. She was just 13 when she took the role of Mary Ellen for the first time in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971). The series premiered the next year. As a result, Norton spent her high school years on the show.

Today, Judy Norton hosts a YouTube-based web series. In it, she takes fans behind the scenes of The Waltons. Sometimes, she breaks down episodes or broad concepts behind the series from an actor’s perspective. Other times, Norton will answer several fan questions about her time on the show, life, and career. In her latest installment “Ask Judy 24” she dove into what schooling was like for her.

Judy Norton Discusses Balancing School and Stardom

A fan named Dan wanted to know, “Was it hard to get caught up when you were back in school or did you have the same school books on the set?”

“At the beginning of each school year, I would go to my own high school and I would find out what courses I was required to take and what books they would be working with,” Judy Norton explained. However, she wasn’t just reading from the books by herself. Instead, she said, there was a teacher on the set or The Waltons. The teacher taught her from the books she brought from her high school.

Judy Norton said that sometimes textbooks weren’t enough. She would go back to regular high school starting in February and finish the year there between seasons of The Waltons. She recalled a time when she came into a literature class and found that the class was just finishing Le Miserables. Then, they were going to start a massive assignment on it. As a result, she had to rush through reading the book. Which she said was “grueling” because it’s a very thick book.

Another time, Judy Norton came into a biology class to find that she was two chapters behind. This was hard because biology wasn’t her “best strength” in school. So, she ended up failing some of the weekly tests before she was able to catch up with the class.

In the end, Judy said she was able to catch up. In fact, the other kids wanted to copy off of her by the end of the year.