‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Explains Hilarious ‘Scary’ Moment That Involved John-Boy and a Mule

by Katie Maloney

Certainly, “The Waltons” was not a high-action show. But, every so often, there were some fun stunts the cast and crew needed to pull in order to complete a scene. This was the case for the season three episode titled “The Thoroughbred.” During the episode, John-Boy seeks to reclaim his family’s legacy by winning a local racing trophy. Grandpa won the race years ago and John-Boy wants to get the Waltons’ family name back on the trophy. So, he plans to use his mule for the race. And everything seems to point to a Walton victory until one of John-Boy’s college classmates enters the race with a thoroughbred racehorse.

John-Boy has to train his mule, named Blue, for the race. However, when he attempts to saddle Blue, the mule runs away. Turns out, he’s terrified of saddles. However, the “actor” mule was not actually afraid of saddles in real life. So, the handlers had to find a different way to scare old Blue so he’s run away in the scene. During an episode of her video series, “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton” Norton revealed how the team actually scared the mule for the scene.

“A real fun thing about this particular episode is that since John-Boy will be riding the mule Blue in the race, he wants to be able to ride him with a saddle on,” said Norton. “So, he has to introduce that to the mule. And the mule is supposed to be just horrified by, scared of the saddle, and runs away.”

How Did The Cast Scare The Mule?

Norton then revealed the only thing that could scare the onset mule.

“Well, the only thing that scared this mule was a camel,” said Norton with a laugh. “I’m not sure how the trainers knew that but they brought a camel to the set that day.”

Norton then shared the trick the handlers used along with “The Waltons” crew. She said that the team hid the camel behind the scenes and when it was time for the mule to run away, they brought it out.

“They hid it behind the barn. And when John-Boy comes out with the saddle, they bring the camel out and the mule freaks out and runs away.”

Now, that is some quality “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton” insider information!

“So, I thought that was a very clever way to deal with that instant they needed to create for the mule,” said Norton.

One Actress From This Episode Of ‘The Waltons’ Also Appeared In Another Episode

During the same episode of her video series, Norton also talked about one of the actors in “The Thoroughbred” episode, Kathleen Quinlin.

“I’m a huge fan of Kathleen Quinlin’s. It was really special to get to work with her. I didn’t have a lot of scenes with her. But her career has been really extensive.”

Norton then shared some of Quinlin’s accomplishments including landing both a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for her performance as Marilyn Lovell in the 1996 movie “Apollo 13.”

“I just thought her performances were brilliant,” said Norton.

Quinlin played Selina Linville on “The Waltons” in “The Thoroughbred,” and in the 1976 episode titled “The Collision.” 

Judy Norton talks about “The Waltons”