‘Happy Days’ Star Don Most and ‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Later Teamed Up for Stage Production

by Joe Rutland

If you attended “Hello, Dolly!” in Galveston, Texas a few years ago, then you saw two stars from “Happy Days” and “The Waltons” in it.

Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on “Happy Days,” and Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen on “The Waltons,” appeared in a 2016 stage production, according to an article in The Houston Press.

Norton played Dolly, a role immortalized on Broadway by Carol Channing in 1964 and in the movies by Barbra Streisand in 1969. Most played Horace Vandergelder, a role Walter Matthau played in the film version.

‘Happy Days’ Star Most Worked With Norton On Play Before ‘Hello, Dolly!’

The original musical was written by Jerry Herman and definitely set the Broadway world on fire.

For Norton, it would mark the third time for “The Waltons” costar to play Dolly on stage. Most was a bit unfamiliar with the musical but previously worked with Norton on another play, “Moments Remembered.”

They also crossed paths during their TV shows as cast members from “Happy Days” and “The Waltons” would play in softball games.

Most played Ralph for seven seasons on the ABC sitcom. He made a final appearance in the last season as a guest star. Norton played Mary Ellen for nine seasons on the CBS family drama. Both moved on to work in different entertainment forms.

Most, Norton Take Their Careers In Unique Paths From TV Series

While it might be hard to believe, Most really wanted to be a jazz and standards singer. He’s been putting a lot of his focus toward that end through the years after his “Happy Days” career.

Most cited as an important influence on him was Bobby Darin, the singer-songwriter-entertainer best known for “Mack the Knife.” In the meantime, he has put out a couple of albums including one of holiday music.

Norton has been putting her focus on theater work as both a performer and producer. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see that she takes on a role as challenging as Dolly.

She’s also been doing a YouTube series devoted to “The Waltons” episodes, giving behind-the-scenes insights on the show and her costars.

Judy Norton Fondly Remembers Meeting Show Creator Earl Hamner

Norton fondly recalls meeting Earl Hamner for the first time while auditioning for a part in “The Homecoming.”

“I remember a lot of adults in that room (for the audition), but Earl was distinctive with his soft, gentle Virginia accent,” Norton said of “The Waltons” creator. “I got to know Earl a bit while we were on the set of ‘The Homecoming.’

“When we went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to film all of the snow sequences for the last week of ‘The Homecoming,’ Earl was there and he brought along his wife Jane and his children Scott and Carrie.”

Norton and Most would learn a lot, respectively, from their TV series. Now they’ve carried that work on into their other work, from music to theater.