‘The Waltons’: Actress Mary McDonough Compared Herself to Her Character, ‘Gone Beyond Erin Walton’

by Anna Dunn

Mary McDonough is an actress and writer known for her role as Erin Walton in The Waltons. Many actors feel a certain connection to their characters, and McDonough is no exception. In fact, McDonough wrote a book, Lessons From The Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton. She wrote the book about her life and the lessons she learned from playing the famous character.

The Waltons was a show about a depression-era family that had its run from 1972 through 1981. McDonough was only 11 when the show started. The run time meant that Mary McDonough grew up in front of the camera. Luckily, she has many fond memories working on set and with the cast. Though McDonough has said she struggled with her confidence.

Who Was Erin Walton?

In The Waltons, Mary McDonough’s character, Erin Walton, is the second daughter in the family. The TV writers wrote Erin’s character as kind and smart. The character often got portrayed as “the pretty one.” Erin’s role as “the pretty one” is highlighted throughout the course of the show. Mcdonough has described the pressure that came with Erin being the pretty one, even after the show was over.

After graduation, Erin struggles with what to do with her life. She does tend to get into fights and be a bit of a “tattle tale.” She’s also not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, taking a stand for women’s rights in her workplace. Erin Walton seems like a lot to live up to, and Mary McDonough has described the stressful standards of living up to the on-screen character that she played for so many years.

How Mary McDonough Compares herself to Erin Walton

Mary McDonough expressed that she’s grown beyond Erin Walton and that Erin Walton was “so caught up in being the middle daughter and the middle daughter and the pretty one. My lesson as Mary was to grow beyond that and move on.” And Mary McDonough’s actions speak just as loud as her words. On top of being an actor, she is now a motivational speaker.

She also went on to say that “Being typecast as Erin Walton lead me to make some bad decisions regarding my health and my body.” Because of this, McDonough is now an advocate for body positivity. She also discusses the dangers of plastic surgery, having suffered complications from her own. Her work as a life coach, motivational speaker, and actress certainly put her beyond Erin Walton.