‘The Waltons’: Olivia Actress Michael Learned’s Favorite Episode Shows a Different Side of Her Character

by Katie Maloney

Actress Judy Norton opened up about which episode of The Waltons was her onscreen mother’s favorite.

When you star on a show for nine seasons, you’re bound to have a favorite episode. That was certainly the case for Michael Learned, who played Olivia on The Waltons. During a behind-the-scenes video, actress Judy Norton who played Mary Ellen on the show talked about the season six episode titled “The Anniversary.” The episode features John and Olivia Walton as they celebrate their 25th anniversary. Norton shared several offscreen details about the episode including that this was one of the only times viewers saw Olivia Walton eat on the show.

“Michael Learned pretty much never eat. But in this episode, she eats!” said Norton. “You actually see Michael take a bite of food. So, there you go, there’s a specific example of Michael being caught eating on The Waltons.”

Michael Learned Said She Got to Be Less ‘Straight-Laced’ During the Episode

That wasn’t the only first that occurred during the show. During the same episode, Olivia Walton also had her first taste of champagne. John brings Olivia to the top of a mountain to the spot where he always promised to build her a home. He reveals that he built her a beautiful gazebo. The two lovingly embrace and later share a toast of champagne. Norton shared that Michael Learned said this episode of the show was her favorite.

“Michael had wonderful memories of filming this episode,” said Norton. “This is what she has to say in Earl Hamner’s book Goodnight John-Boy. ‘If I had to pick a favorite episode, it would probably be this one. It celebrated a special occasion for John and Bolivia. And it gave Ralph and me the chance to play many different facets of our characters. The entire Waltons cast was active in the episode and it was fun to interact with the whole crew. Olivia was often so straight-laced that I have to confess. I got a secret pleasure out of the fact that at the end of this episode she had her first sip of champagne.”

Judy Norton talks about Michael Learned’s favorite episode of The Waltons.

The Waltons Star Michael Learned Will Star as Jeffrey Dahmer’s Grandmother in Upcoming Series

Actress Michael Learned has always been vocal about her opinions of her character on The Waltons. Although she loved the show, she often complained that Olivia didn’t do much other than pour coffee and care for her family. Well, 40 years after the last episode of The Waltons aired, Learned is finally fulfilling her wish to play a more layered character.

Netflix recently announced that it will be releasing a mini-series about the serial killer Jeffery Dahmer, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The miniseries is expected to span the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and finish with Dahmer’s arrest in 1991. Additionally, the series is set to focus more on the psychology behind Dahmer’s action, and how he got away with so many murders for such a long time. And guess who is playing Dahmer’s grandmother, Catherine, in the series? That’s right, Michael Learned is shedding her “straight-laced” character from The Waltons and stepping into the role of a serial killer’s caretaker. There isn’t a whole lot of information available about Catherine Dahmer, so Learned will have to improvise. But we’re confident that the former The Waltons star is up for the challenge.