‘The Waltons’: What Character Did Morgan Stevens Play on the Show?

by Suzanne Halliburton

Fans of The Waltons likely recognize actor Morgan Stevens, who died Wednesday. After all, when Stevens was starting out in Hollywood, he played a special character on the family drama.

Remember Paul Northridge? His family was wealthy, making their riches in the lumber business. And Erin, the middle daughter on The Waltons, fell in love with Paul, played by Stevens.

We’re thinking of Stevens now since the news of his death was first reported earlier Wednesday by TMZ. A neighbor hadn’t heard from Stevens in several days. The neighbor called police for a wellness check. The police found Stevens’ body in the kitchen. Foul play isn’t suspected. Stevens was 70.

Let’s drift back to the early 80s, back when Stevens was the guest star of a Waltons episode called “The Lumberjack.” It ran on May 21, 1981.

And fans of The Waltons know that there’s a narration for every episode, at the beginning and at the end. Here’s the prologue of that episode:

“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.”

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

This Waltons Romance Started With an Awkward Meeting

Erin (Mary Elizabeth McDonough) and Paul had an awkward kind of introduction. Erin was shopping at Ike Godsey’s store. Paul accidentally bumps into Erin and knocks her grocery bags to the floor. Still, Erin immediately feels connected to Paul. She tells her sisters she’s met the man of her dreams. Although Paul is from a prominent family, he doesn’t tell Erin who he really is.

Later in The Waltons episode, the two meet over coffee. Then they go for a drive and sneak a kiss at the hot springs. She invites him to dinner at her house after church.

John Boy figures out who Paul really is. So Paul takes Erin to meet his father. And Erin figures out why Paul doesn’t talk about him. The man is nasty and domineering. Erin initially thinks that Paul only was interested in her to secure a lumber contract with her brother, Ben. So she tells off Paul’s dad and walks away from both men. But because this is a sweet Waltons story, Paul’s dad does some self-reflection. He likes Erin and tells his son not to let her get away.

As for The Waltons epilogue: “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.”

Spoiler alert, the very first The Waltons reunion movie was called A Wedding on Walton’s Mountain. Stevens was in three of the reunion movies.