‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Explains How the Show Chose Interior Shooting Locations

by Lauren Boisvert

Judy Norton is back to give us some behind-the-scenes facts about “The Waltons” episode “The Separation.” In the episode, Grandma and Grandpa get into a fight when Grandpa goes to get some candles and doesn’t come back when he’s supposed to. In reality, he fixed some pipes at the Baldwin house, and the sisters paid him enough to pay off the Waltons’ electricity debt. He also stops to buy Grandma some perfume with the leftover money, and Grandma is worried sick about him.

When they won’t speak to each other, Olivia has the idea to make Grandpa jealous. At the barn dance, she sets Grandma up to dance with her old boyfriend. Grandpa sees this, and in turn, asks Emily Baldwin to dance. It’s not until the band plays “My Wild Irish Rose” that the two reconcile.

In her video on the episode, Judy Norton explains one of the unusual sets, that being the inside of the store where Grandpa buys the perfume. In the background, you can see people walking by and cars on the street, so it was an actual interior set.

“Often when we are in interior sets, as in the case of Mr. Harper’s store,” Norton started, “those tended to be done on the soundstage. But in this case it caught my attention because this seems to have been the actual location, the exterior location.”

She goes on to say that when there was enough room inside the exterior set, they would film inside. Norton gives the example of the schoolhouse, where they often filmed inside the actual exterior set. So, not everything was a façade. She explains that the usable interiors were on Midwest Street, which is the largest Warner Bros. backlot set.

What Made ‘The Waltons’ Different From Other Shows?

Richard Thomas spoke with the Archive of American Television in 2017; in that interview, he made a point that “The Waltons” was so much different than its contemporaries.

According to Thomas, “The Waltons” gave audiences real, down-to-earth, humble characters when they needed them the most. “They weren’t superstars, they weren’t wealthy, nobody was an ace cop or a great doctor or a fantastic lawyer or a detective or a cowboy.”

“The Waltons” showcased a poor, Depression-era family and told small stories with them; meaningful, heartwarming plots and attainable characters made for a show that stood out in the best way.

Thomas says “The Waltons” succeeded because the Depression-era characters clicked with Depression-era audiences; the show aired in 1972, and at that time those people “were moms and dads and grandmothers and grandfathers.” They saw their struggles and triumphs reflected back at them through the screen, and, truly, representation is everything.