‘The Waltons’: Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Labeled the Two Costars Who Were ‘Pranksters’

by Atlanta Northcutt

Judy Norton has all of the details on the shenanigans that took place while on the set of The Waltons, as well as which cast members were behind the majority of the pranks.

The Waltons is a beloved TV show that brought humor to audiences but also kept the cast and crew laughing too.

Judy Norton is the actress who played Mary Ellen in the hit series. She’s previously spoken about the set being a joyous one. On the CBS hit family drama, Judy remembers how giggles would turn into outright laughter.

“I think most of it was really cast-related, working with a group of people that I love,” she said in an interview with Moviehole.net.

Who were the stars that brought about many of the giggles and laughter? It’s not too hard to believe that the late, great John Ritter would be included in that list.

“When you have that comfort level of working with people, those things were very special,” Norton says. “We worked with John Ritter, and he and Richard (Thomas, who played John-Boy Walton) would try to one-up each other with jokes.”

John Ritter and Richard Thomas Bring The Laughs

Ritter played Reverend Matthew Fordwick on The Waltons. It was his first real Hollywood break and was way before he became known as the famous Jack Tripper in the ABC comedy series “Three’s Company.” Sadly, he passed away in 2003 at the young age of 54.

“Oh, he was wonderful,” says Norton when asked about the late actor. “John Ritter was very funny and lighthearted.”

Judy Norton explains that although the audience couldn’t tell how much of a prankster Ritter was, seeing as he played the straight-laced Reverend Fordwick on The Waltons. Although John did, in fact, have a serious side, the fun and games would begin when he teamed up with his good friend and co-star Richard Thomas.

“He and Richard Thomas were great friends and they were pranksters together,” she says. “They were always trying to one-up each other.  Or trying to crack each other up in scenes. Things like that.”

Although John Ritter may have been a sneaky prankster on set, Judy and the rest of the cast loved every minute of it. That was especially true with Richard Thomas, who found pleasure getting to work and joke around with his dear friend. The other castmates and crew members enjoyed Ritter being on The Waltons, as well.

“It was always fun when John was on the set,” Norton says. 

It’s not surprising to think of two goofy best friends pulling pranks and coming up with crazy schemes together. That’s exactly what John Ritter and Richard Thomas did, but they brought their silliness to the Hollywood film set.