‘The Waltons’: Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Gives Fans a Behind-the-Scenes Look at a ‘Day on Set’

by John Jamison

For nearly 10 years, the cast and crew of “The Waltons” showed up at Warner Bros. Studios to film. The result was 221 episodes of a timeless TV classic. But what did a typical day on set look like for the cast? Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton, walked us through everything that went into shooting an episode.

A number of factors determined what would get done throughout the course of the day. According to Norton, it depended on what happened in a particular episode. For example, all of the outside scenes were typically shot first. This allowed the crew to have more flexibility in case bad weather came along.

In a video uploaded to her Youtube channel in January, “The Waltons” star Judy Norton said, “Inside, our shoot calls were usually around 8:30. And so prior to that, the actors might be called in anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before the beginning of the day for hair and makeup.”

Shooting an Episode of ‘The Waltons’

After everyone was in costume and had their hair and makeup done, the assistant director would call in all the actors in a given scene for rehearsal.

“We’d run through the scene,” Norton said. “If the actor had a strong feeling about something, it may or may not be taken into consideration depending on how valid it was for what they were trying to do.”

The rehearsal allowed the crew to find all of their marks for camera placement and lighting. Once everything was set, they’d begin shooting.

“Scripts were usually somewhere around 55-60 pages at that point in time. So, we’re talking about doing 8-10 pages of script a day,” “The Waltons” star said in the video.

And once a scene finished, the work began immediately on setting everything up for the next one. At some point, the whole cast and crew would take an hour-long break for lunch.

“We’d come back. We’d go do makeup and hair touch-ups, and on we’d go with the afternoon until such time as you were done for the day,” “The Waltons” star said. “If there was a scene you weren’t in, you hung around. Because you didn’t know how long it was going to be until they needed you again.”

When they finished up their last scenes of the day, the cast members signed out with the assistant director. That’s when they typically learned what time they had to be on set the next day. After going home and relaxing, they’d report back the next day to repeat the process all over again.