‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Opens Up on the Wardrobe Featured in the Show

by John Jamison

The classic Depression-era family drama “The Waltons” was a fan-favorite for the entire near-decade it was on the air. Of all the things people loved about it, the wardrobe doesn’t necessarily jump out. But weirdly, the period-appropriate attire was more true-to-life than one might think. The conditions on set mirrored the 1930s in some pretty interesting ways.

A show’s wardrobe is easily overlooked as an aspect of the story itself. Even in period pieces like “The Waltons,” we often take for granted the work and detail that go into the costumes our favorite characters wear on screen. Further, things are only complicated when a show lasts a long time. The nine seasons of “The Waltons” saw kids getting older and growing out of clothes that once fit them.

In a video she uploaded to her YouTube channel recently, Mary Ellen Walton actress Judy Norton talked about what the wardrobe situation was like on the show.

“Some of these clothes had been in that wardrobe department for some time. And they were a lot of them in – were cotton. And for the girls with dresses and shirts and things like that, they became threadbare from being cleaned so often,” Norton said. “They would get tears in them. So they would get gaff tape, you know, black – I mean, sorry, grey gaff tape. And they would tape the wardrobe like inside a dress.”

Doesn’t sound very far off what families would be doing during the Depression-era itself.

‘The Waltons Wardrobe Became Extremely Uncomfortable

With all of the wear and tear on the costumes, the tape became more and more frequent.

Eventually, the insides of some of the dresses were so taped up that the patched spots would stick to the actors’ skin. This made for quite an uncomfortable experience, especially during the summer months.

“Well, when we were outside and it was hot, the tape and against our body, you might sweat. And so you’d end up with like the tape sticking to your back as well as the costume,” Norton continued in the video. “And eventually they’d have to say goodbye to a piece of clothing because it just had too many holes and it couldn’t be worn again. But they would at least have to finish out the episode so that it would match.”

Norton explained that people have commented about how the clothes didn’t always seem very period-specific. Her response? Just because they weren’t 100% accurate in style doesn’t mean they weren’t accurate in practice.

“Well, some of them were really, really period,” she added.