The Waltons actress Judy Norton once talked about the rare stunt work that had to be done for an episode called The Ferris Wheel. Norton has been keeping the legacy of The Waltons alive by launching a behind-the-scenes series that takes a look at what went on when the cameras weren’t rolling.
In an episode where Norton talks about The Ferris Wheel episode in season 5, she mentions the difficult stuntwork involved in shooting some of the scenes. The Ferris Wheel follows Elizabeth as she begins to get nightmares and sleepwalk. She has a recurring nightmare that she’s on a Ferris wheel and there’s nobody there to help her off. John-Boy worries she’s starting to reflect on a repressed childhood memory.
A Lot of The Stunt Scenes Featured Elizabeth
A lot of the stunt work involved Elizabeth climbing to precarious places during her sleepwalking, or someone having to save her.
“It wasn’t particularly common for us to be involved in stunt work on The Waltons because it wasn’t really an action show. In the case of The Ferris Wheel, both Kami Cotler and Eric Scott had to do some stunt work,” she said.
Stunts often work differently in modern TV production. It’s increasingly rare to see actors doing their own stunts. With enhanced special effects and more strict safety guidelines, it’s not as needed, either. Norton continued to talk about the stunts the two actors had to do to make the show work.
“Kami, Elizabeth of course, is sleepwalking, so she stands on the roof of the house. She stands on the treehouse and threatens to jump off. And of course, everything on the Ferris wheel. And of course, there were the nightmare sequences where she appears to be falling, which was shot on the soundstage with her in a harness,” Norton said.
“[Kami] said she was flying around eight feet off the ground. They had a big wind machine blowing wind so her hair and everything was flying around, so that was kind of an adventure,” she recounted.
Eric Scott Actually Climbed the Ferris Wheel for ‘The Waltons’ Episode
While The Waltons did have stunt people for Kami and Eric, Eric explained to Judy that they didn’t use them much.
“Eric said he didn’t really use his stunt person. They did have a rope, a harness on him as he did all that climbing but he said he did do all of that by himself.” The climbing took place when Eric scaled the ferris wheel.
“He said for the closeups, when Eric is going across the beam of the Ferris wheel to drop down into the seat with Kami, that they took pieces of the Ferris wheel or re-built it or did something with the soundstage so they could do all those closeups,” Norton continued.
In fact, during the soundstage shots, John Wamsley went up to Eric and pulled a bit of a joke. He “pretended to flap his arms as if he was up there flying just to have some fun.”
Judy Norton has been providing wonderful stories and behind the scenes looks like this for a while now, keeping the memory of the iconic show fresh and alive for all of its fans.