‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Fought With Co-Star Mary McDonough Like ‘Her Own Sister’ in ‘The Competition’ Episode

by Katie Maloney

Judy Norton shared behind-the-scenes details about her onscreen fight with The Waltons star Mary McDonough.

There’s nothing like pulling from your real-life experiences while acting on a famous television show. That’s exactly what actress Judy Norton did during an episode of The Waltons. During the episode titled “The Competition,” Norton, who played Mary Ellen on the show, gets into a fight with her sister over a guy. And when we say “fight” we mean it. There’s actual hair-pulling in this scene. But we’ll get there in a moment. First, let’s talk about how this conflict started. During an episode of her vlog, Judy Norton shared secret details about “The Competition” episode of The Waltons.

“Marry Ellen and Erin did occasionally both have an interest in a good-looking man who came to the mountain…But this is the first time and I think the only episode where there’s actually conflict between Erin and Mary Ellen over a young man that they both find attractive. So that was a different sort of dynamic between the two. Mary Ellen thinks “I saw him first and you’re just a child so you should back off.’ Meanwhile, Erin is truly having her first young love. So, that was a fun storyline and an interesting one to have between the two sisters.”

Now, back to that fight. Mary Ellen and Erin reach the height of their conflict towards the end of the episode. During the scene, the two sisters actually physically fight for a few moments.

“Mary Ellen and Erin’s rivalry turns a little bit physical here where the two of them get into a little bit of a fight,” said Norton. “I’m sure Mary [McDonough] and I had a lot of fun creating this little spat and a little pushing and shoving and hair-pulling. I used to do that with my sister,” said Norton laughing.

Judy Norton talks about her fight with her onscreen sister in The Waltons.

Actress Mary McDonough Explained How She And Her Character On The Waltons Were Both Similar And Different

Having grown up on the show, it was impossible for Mary McDonough not to share some similarities with her character Erin, who was also navigating growing from a child to a young woman. During an interview in 2014, McDonough opened up about both the similarities and the differences between herself and Erin on The Waltons.

“Erin and I both struggled with our identities in a large family being middle daughters. And what purpose we serve in the world and within our families,” said McDonough. “And I think she was always looking for what was going to define her because people said that she was pretty and that really was not enough.”

McDonough then talked about an episode of The Waltons during which Erin competes in a beauty pageant and loses.

“Her vanity was something she was sort of punished for in a way,” said McDonough. “Grandma would look down on her in the beauty contest that she lost and think that was right and just. So I think she was a seeker in a lot of ways, trying to find her value.”