Judy Norton was too professional to complain about cooties whenever she had to kiss someone on “The Waltons.”
In her YouTube segment “Ask Judy,” she takes fan-submitted questions and goes behind the scenes of filming. In this video, someone asked if there was any specific way the actors kissed; they needed to make it seem like they weren’t romantically involved outside of the show.
Norton laughed, and said, “I never heard of any specific rules on that. I know there were guidelines in the earlier times [where] you never saw […] married couples sleep in the same bed.”
She went on to explain another one of the guidelines. She said, “If someone was kissing, and they were in a bedroom, one person had to have their feet on the floor so they couldn’t actually be lying on the bed together.”
Norton said as far as she knew, “I was never given any specific instructions other than they wanted it to look real. You want people to believe it.”
She went on to describe it as “somewhat awkward because it’s usually someone you don’t know very well, and you may not work with them for very long […] As an actor you have to create that sense that this is a person that you’re that interested in and want to kiss, even if in real life you may not really want to.”
Norton said that sometimes that believability meant people thought the actors were together in real life. That just means the moments on “The Waltons” looked real, and felt real for those watching.
‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Had Expert Techniques for Learning Lines
In the same Q&A video, Judy Norton spoke about the tools and techniques she used for learning her lines; not just on “The Waltons,” but for other creative projects as well.
“Sometimes, because of the amount of traffic I’d sit in,” she said, “I’d review lines while I was in stop and go traffic.”
Eventually, Norton started using a tape recorder to learn her lines. “I would record the other peoples’ lines and then I would say my line silently so there was sufficient blank space in the recording,” she said, “so I would have that audio cue. And as I was driving around I would just run those, and review those, and listen to what was being said to me so that I knew what I was responding to.”
An obvious professional; Judy Norton played Mary Ellen on “The Waltons” from 1972 to 1981. She went through some tough character arcs; Norton leaned into Mary Ellen’s maturity as she grew from up. She went from a dramatic, tomboyish 13-year-old to the voice of reason for her siblings.