‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Celebrates July 4th Breaking Down Classic Episode, ‘The Obstacle’

by Caitlin Berard

For the entirety of its 9-year run, Judy Norton played Mary Ellen Walton in the historical drama, The Waltons. The classic TV series follows a large family in rural Virginia as they navigate two of the most difficult time periods of American history: the Great Depression and World War II.

Mary Ellen Walton is now several decades behind her. Judy Norton continues to celebrate the legacy of the classic show, however, through “Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton,” a YouTube series. In each episode, the actress either gives a thorough explanation of a particular episode or interviews a fellow Waltons star.

In her most recent upload, Norton honors both the series and Independence Day by giving an in-depth look at “The Obstacle”. During this episode, the family helps Mike Paxton, a friend of John-Boy’s, to rediscover his passion for life after being confined to a wheelchair following a war injury.

“Today, in honor of the 4th of July (happy 4th of July, everyone), I’m going to talk about the [Season 7] episode, “The Obstacle,” she explained. “As we all celebrate July 4th, I thought it only fitting that we take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that it has taken for us to gain our independence and to maintain it for all of these years. Centuries, even.”

“Those sacrifices included the men like Mike Paxton in this episode, who came back injured and is now in a wheelchair,” she continued. “And those men who didn’t come back, like Curt in Pearl Harbor or G.W. from his training accident.”

‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Describes the ‘Honor’ of Entertaining the Troops

After describing the premise, Judy Norton goes into her overview of the episode. During “The Obstacle,” Ben and Ike practice a dance number they plan to perform for the USO. Norton then relates the events of the episode to her own personal experiences. Like Ben and Ike, Judy once performed for the USO.

“For myself, I had the great pleasure and honor to perform for two different USO tours in the 1980s,” she explained. “As part of a couple of Hollywood celebrity tours that went out. One went through Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. And the other went from Greenland to Iceland to England, with a little stop-off in New Finland, Canada.”

“It was a tremendous pleasure to be able to go out and entertain our troops who were, in many cases, in very remote areas,” she continued. “And this was at Christmastime, so very cold. But just such a great joy. One of the best experiences of my life. And an honor for me to be able to do something to give back to all of those servicemen who were away from their families for extended periods of time.