‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Reveals the ‘Pancake Makeup’ Method That Was used For the Show

by Emily Morgan

For years, Judy Norton starred as Mary Ellen on “The Waltons.” From 1971 to 1981, she played the Walton’s eldest daughter, and in doing so, became a household name.

Now, 63-years-old, Norton recently reflected on her time on the beloved show. She recently opened up about what it was like behind the scenes. In addition, she brought what it was like sitting in hair and makeup before she went on camera.

“As for makeup, it was pretty much what they called ‘pancake.’ They would use a wet sponge and get the makeup mixed with water, and then it would be put on.”

For Norton, it wasn’t as glamorous as people might think. In fact, she added that “it felt like you had chalk on you.” However, the boys on set were lucky. “Sometimes, the boys didn’t have to wear as much of it because their skin tones might have been tanner.”

She adds, “that went on for a number of seasons and with the younger ones, for a longer period of time because they didn’t add extra makeup.

Judy Norton on ‘The Waltons’ Makeup: ‘It Was So Uncomfortable

“We were supposed to look like we weren’t really wearing makeup so it was to not look too pale. So the ones who were paler, the coloring would change for each person.”

As Norton and her fellow cast members got older, Norton says that the makeup only got heavier throughout the season. “As we got a little bit older, they switched from this pancake to what they called a ‘panstick’ which was a really thick, kind of grease-based paint that they used for the grown-ups.

Norton describes that makeup would be put on the cast when they first arrived. Moreover, it would stay on all day until shooting wrapped.

“Being a teenager and having oily skin, when we would shoot there would always a be a makeup check. Sometimes because there were so many of us, makeup checks got missed so sometimes you’ll see that we’re a little more shiny.”

Even though there were uncomfortable moments, Norton was thankful she had a particular physical characteristic.

“I was very fortunate to have very dark eyelashes. They were kind of long and curled, so early on they never put any mascara or eyeliner on me.”