‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Points Out Age Inconsistencies in the Series

by Katie Maloney

Usually, when someone asks “Do you have any siblings?” you know whether your sisters and brothers are older or younger, right? Well, that wasn’t quite the case for actress Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen on “The Waltons.” When the show first started, there was a clear sequence of age established between the seven siblings. However, as the show continued, and the real-life actors went through physical changes, a few of the ages on the show switched. During an episode of her video series, “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton,” Norton answered questions from fans. One fan asked about the age inconsistencies on “The Waltons.”

“When we first did ‘The Homecoming‘, the sequence was John-Boy was the oldest, then Jason, then Mary Ellen, I was the oldest daughter. Then Ben, Erin, Jim Bob and Elizabeth. Now, as the series went on there was a point where, it was always John Boy, Jason, Marry Ellen, but then Erin and Ben sort of flipped in terms of age.”

Judy Norton talks about the age difference on “The Waltons”

Ben and Erin Switch Ages on ‘The Waltons’

As Norton said, at some point during the series, Erin and Ben switched ages. This wasn’t a mistake made by writers. Norton said that they purposely changed the characters’ ages because Mary Elizabeth McDonough, who played Erin on the show had a growth spurt.

“Eric is like nine months younger than I am, so originally, I think the age difference between him and Erin was more evident. Mary is about three years younger than us. It flowed that way because it made sense,” said Norton.

But then things changed. Mary hit puberty and grew a lot taller.

“Then Mary went through a growth spurt and Eric, he’ll say, did not,” said Norton with a laugh.

The height difference definitely made Erin look older than Ben, so writers changed the ages of the characters.

“Because of that, I think sometimes they started thinking that Erin was older. And some of those storylines, for her, became more mature. So somewhere down the line, it seemed like Erin was older than Ben. I’m not sure exactly why that happened other than the fact that Mary grew taller. Who knows!”

Perhaps the age inconsistencies will never be completely explained. And we’re okay with that. Regardless of what order they aged, we loved watching “The Waltons” siblings grow up on one of our favorite classic television shows.