‘The Waltons’: Kami Cotler Still Remembers How to Do Finger-Spelling Alphabet From Pilot Episode

by Keeli Parkey

The very first episode of “The Waltons” aired 49 years ago. That episode introduced viewers to the members of that beloved family that they would come to know and love for years to come.

One of these family members was the Walton daughter, Elizabeth, played by Kami Cotler. Cotler recently said that she still remembers how to do something that was a key part of the episode.

According to MeTV, the first episode of the series aired on Sept. 14, 1972. It was titled “The Foundling.” The main plot of this episode involved a young girl named Holly being left at the door of the Waltons’ home. She is found by John-Boy (Richard Thomas). Holly had been left there by Ruth Collier (Charlotte Stewart, who is better known for her role as Mrs. Beadle in “Little House on the Prairie”).

Unsurprisingly, Walton parents, John (Ralph Waite) and Olivia (Michael Learned), decide to care for the girl. So, they take her to a doctor. It is then that they find out that Holly is deaf. In order for them to be able to communicate, the doctor advises them to learn to “fingerspell” and sends them home with information.

‘The Waltons’ Kami Cotler Said She Was ‘Very Proud’ That She Learned to ‘Fingerspell’

While Holly learned to “fingerspell,” so did the Walton children, including Elizabeth. This, of course, meant that the actors also learned the alphabet. Impressively, actress Kami Cotler still remembers how to “fingerspell” the alphabet. She showcased this skill during a recent video she posted to her “YouTube” channel. She was only 7 years old at the time “The Foundling” episode of “The Waltons” was shot.

“I would practice it until I felt relatively comfortable and it stuck. I still remember all of it. And some of it was hard. When you’re a little kid some of these signs are difficult to make. But I was very proud of knowing how to do it. I thought it was very cool,” Cotler recalled.

You can watch Kami Cotler talked about “The Foundling” episode of “The Waltons” below.

Kami Cotler also recalled other tidbits about the creation of “The Waltons.”

She remembered how dirt had to be brought in to cover the streets and curbs to make the set look appropriate for Walton’s Mountain. She also recalled how the children were barefoot for the first season. This, however, was later changed for the actors’ safety because “nails and razorblades” were often left behind on set.

Here’s another interesting tidbit about the first episode of “The Waltons.”

While “The Foundling” was the first episode to air, it was not the first the cast and crew filmed. The first episode they filmed was “The Hunt.” This episode became the fourth series of the episodes. Looking back, “The Foundling” was the best way to introduce the characters of “The Waltons.” It gave viewers a look into how the family related to one another and how they would deal with challenges.