‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Opens Up About the Seating Arrangement at the Family Dinner Table

by Katie Maloney

Judy Norton is answering questions from her fans again and “The Waltons” audiences are living for it. Almost weekly actor Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen on the show, releases a video for her series called “Behind-the-Scene with Judy Norton.” During the series, Norton shares secret details about episodes from the show. She also frequently hosts a segment called ‘Ask Judy.” During the segment, Norton answers questions submitted by fans of “The Waltons.”

Most recently, one fan asked about the seating arrangement during family dinner scenes of “The Waltons.” Norton revealed that she wasn’t exactly sure how the arrangement first came to be. But she knows that the cast stuck by it for the remainder of the series.

“I don’t know if there’s a story behind it. But early on in season one clearly we were either assigned spots or they said ‘Okay, go take a seat.’ So we ended up in particular places,” said Norton. “Then I think there might have been a little movie around in season one. But very early on, we sort of established places we sat.”

Norton said that the kids in the cast were comfortable sticking to one seat at the table as that was how they did it in their own real-life homes.

“And, I know in my own home growing up, I always sat in the same seat at the table. And I think that was true for the rest of the kids,” said Norton. “So, we just felt like that was our spot. So that was where we always sat.”

‘The Waltons’ Cast Refused to Change Seats for Guest Directors

However, guest directors frequently came to the show and tried to break up the agreed-upon seating arrangement. Spoiler: They were never successful.

“Occasionally, we would have directors come in. And because of the sequence of lines in a scene, they might want to be able to move the camera down from one person to the next. In order to capture the dialogue of a specific character, or make it faster. So they would say, ‘Great, we want you to sit here and you to sit here.’ And we would be like, ‘No, no this is where I sit. I don’t sit over there. That would be very strange.’ And you know, just reiterating that aspect that this is the places we sit,” said Norton.

She added that the cast got to keep their seats, but not before recognizing that the directors were usually a little annoyed.

“So, I think there was many a director who may have been a little frustrated by our insistence that we had our spots. And then they had to rethink how they shot something,” said Norton. “But it was something that we as a cast felt strongly about. So, I think we won that one.”

Judy Norton talks about family dinner seating arrangements on “The Waltons”