‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Opens Up About Her Feelings When John-Boy Actor Richard Thomas Left the Series

by Katie Maloney

How did Judy Norton feel about her onscreen brother, Richard Thomas leaving “The Waltons”?

Part of the reason “The Waltons” was so successful was because the actors didn’t have to pretend to like each other. The natural chemistry between the cast was authentic. And it made the family love believable. While this was great for the show, it did make it difficult for cast members when actors left the show to pursue other projects. During an episode of her video series, “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton,” Norton shared what it was like for her when Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy, left “The Waltons.”

“We knew in advance that he was going to be leaving. we knew that it was his last season. And I enjoyed working with Richard so I tried to enjoy every moment of working with him during that season,” said Norton.

However Norton admitted that parting ways was “tough” for her.

“It was tough the last episode particularly knowing that it was the last day and his final scenes. I remember thinking “Oh this is sad that this is the last time that I get to work with him.”

Judy Norton talks about “The Waltons”

Norton Said She Understood Why Richard Thomas Left ‘The Waltons’

Despite the sadness, Norton understood the life of an actor. She knew that, no matter how great a role is, it really is just a “job” at the end of the day. And actors have to move on when better opportunities present themselves.

“I mean I understand his decision as an actor. I mean it is a job as attached as we get to the cast. I’ve done any number of shows that were finite. I’ve done a lot of theater where you bond very strongly with people for a few months or a few weeks because you’re working very intensively. And it’s very sad when you separate but it’s a job and you go on to do other jobs,” said Norton. “So, it’s engrained in actors that that’s part of the process.”

For this reason, Norton said she understood Thomas’s decision to leave. Nevertheless, she missed him.

“So I understood that Richard was going to move on to other artistic challenges. So I don’t think anybody begrudged him,” said Norton. “But, I selfishly missed having him around and missed doing scenes with him. So, I was glad when we got to do some reunion specials and he was back with us again. Anytime I get to see him in person it’s always a treat. He’s my brother. I love him.”