‘The Waltons’: Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Remembers Her Late Co-Star Richard Gilliland

by Matthew Wilson

Actors may pass away but they’re never forgotten. “The Waltons” star Judy Norton remembered her late co-star Richard Gilliland in a moving tribute to their time together on the show.

Gilliland played the role of Jonesy on the classic television show. Norton’s Mary Ellen Walton and Gilliland’s character were close on the show. The two eventually married during one of “The Waltons” television movies, the character becoming Mary Ellen’s second husband.

Gilliland had various acting credits to his name. The actor passed away on March 18, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. The actor had been battling a “short illness” prior. Gilliland was 71-year-old. In a recent video, Norton mourned Gilliland’s passing and commented on his legacy as an actor.

“I was stunned and devasted when I recently heard about the passing of Richard Gilliland,” Norton said. “Although he was only in five episodes of ‘The Waltons,’ at the time he and I had a very close friendship. And I felt he was someone who I had such admiration and affection for ever since. Even though our paths haven’t crossed in some time. It felt like losing a relative. So I wanted to pay tribute to him and the work that he did.”

Judy Norton Remembers ‘The Waltons’ Actor

Richard Gilliland’s character appeared in Season Nine toward the end of “The Waltons” run. The character first appeared in the episode called “The Whirlwind.” On the show, Gilliland’s and Norton’s characters had an instant connection that blossomed into a romance. By that point, Mary Ellen had been a widow for four years after her husband died in World War II.

The characters’ first meeting on “The Waltons” was a literal car wreck, however. Jim Bob and Jonesy wrecked the vehicle they were driving in. And Mary Ellen and Jason arrived on the scene to help them out. It started Gilliland’s guest spot on the show, which stretched into three TV movies. Norton remembers the actor for his positive demeanor on set.

“I will always remember Richard’s smile. It was so evident in every episode,” Norton said. “He was so enduring as a person, as a character, that he fit seamlessly into The Walton family. My only regret is he wasn’t around to do more episodes.”

Gilliland gave Norton a little ceramic dog as a gift while they were on the show. The present sits on Norton’s mantle. And it’s something that she will always cherish, along with the friendship that the two shared.