‘The Waltons’ Star Kami Cotler Explained Why She Walked Away from Acting: ‘Natural Transition’

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images)

Sometimes, actors who appear in TV series either continue to act or leave the business. “The Waltons” star Kami Cotler decides to leave.

Why? Cotler, in a 2017 interview with Vision TV, talks about her choice to get out of show business. She plays young daughter Elizabeth Walton on the long-running CBS family drama.

“It was a natural transition for me,” Cotler says. “I was ready to go to college and didn’t plan to study acting. Having done it for so many years with no training, I had no appreciation for what the training might be, and I was interested in studying history and literature.”

‘The Waltons’ Star Says That Her Acting Experience Was ‘Very Unusual’

Cotler recalls her acting experience including “The Waltons” as “very unusual” as she says most actors audition for roles more than they work.

“As I began auditioning, I realized that it wasn’t as enjoyable as working!” she says. “There wasn’t much time between when the show ended and I started university. But, most of the things I auditioned for were not well written and I wasn’t terribly eager to get those jobs.”

She also says that she was “put off by how precious everyone else thought these jobs were.”

“And I was a teen by then [the show was canceled by CBS in 1981], so the auditioning dynamic was different,” Cotler says. “I figured I was entitled to a break since I’d spent every summer vacation [from the age of] six to 16 working on ‘The Waltons’.”

The show, which was created by Earl Hamner Jr., lasted nine seasons on CBS. Hamner provided the narrator’s voice for the show, too. Cotler would be part of a cast that includes Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, Richard Thomas, Will Geer, Ellen Corby, and Judy Norton.

Cotler Would Turn Her Attention On Helping In World Of Education

After leaving “The Waltons” and show business in her life, Cotler puts her focus on the world of education.

“I chose teaching at first because it offered an opportunity to learn more about American culture,” she tells Vision TV in the interview. “I could teach in different regions… and I did. I taught in Oakland and San Francisco. Rural Virginia and San Diego.”

She says that teaching, to her, felt more important than acting in her life. Yet there is a similarity to acting as Cotler points out.

“A school faculty and staff operates like a cast and crew,” Cotler says. “It’s never boring. It keeps you on your toes, and teaching has moments of performance.”

Cotler credits having a “terrific” K-12 education as part of her life on and off “The Waltons” set. This would eventually lead her to work in charter schools, she tells Vision TV, and help open and lead them.