‘The Waltons’ Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Explains Character’s Different Hair Styles: ‘Can’t Believe They Got Away With That One’

by Matthew Wilson

“The Waltons” aired for a total of nine seasons and six TV movies. So Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen on the show, went through a lot of different hairstyles on the show.

On her YouTube channel, Norton walked fans through Mary Ellen’s evolving style on the show and how producers settled her various haircuts throughout the series. She also sheepishly revealed the show joined the Farah Fawcett hair trend even though the style wasn’t period accurate. Fawcett was a popular actor in the 1980s that kicked off a new fad with her luxurious locks.

Norton revealed that she decided to get her hair cut on her own. But neither the producers nor the hair department vetoed her new look for not being accurate in the 1940s era.

“The comment we’ve heard the most when we got to those Farah Fawcett winged layers cuts. Yes, I totally confess that was so not period,” Norton said. “And I honestly don’t know why they got away with that. Maybe the hair department felt it wasn’t really their call to tell us our hair wasn’t period. Maybe, producers got lax. I’m not sure why we exactly got away with that.”

Judy Norton on ‘The Waltons’ Hairstyle

Over the course of the series, Norton and her hairstyle continued to evolve. It was one of those aspects that helped show the passing of time on the show. Initially, producers wanted all of the children to be redheads during the TV movie “The Homecoming.”

But when the show got picked up for the series, Norton got to let her own hair color shine through. One hairstyle both she and her agent refused was a bowl cut. Producers asked her to chop her hair during the initial episodes. But Norton’s representative refused the style. The actor confessed that she was thankful because she enjoyed having long hair.

When Norton and her character turned around 16, Norton wanted to change up her hairstyle. She wanted her character to wear her hair in a bun instead of down. Later, they transitioned the hair into a half bun and half down combo. Toward the end of the series, Norton adopted her infamous 1980s hairdo, which stuck despite its inaccuracy.

As for Norton’s male co-stars, they got rid of their long locks, popular for the period, to play the Waltons. Men in that era had shorter hair. For the most part, Norton said a lot of thought went into the character’s hairstyles.