‘The Waltons’ Producer Earl Hamner Jr. Wanted the Family to Have This Same Hair Color

by Keeli Parkey

During a recent post on her YouTube channel, “The Waltons” actress Judy Norton shared an interesting behind-the-scenes tidbit about the beloved show. This post is part of a series of videos she has shared about the making of the show. Norton, of course, played Mary Ellen Walton the oldest of the family’s daughters.

In this installment, Norton claims that Earl Hamner Jr. wanted all of the members of the Walton family to have the exact same hair color. Hamner was a producer on the show. And, he wrote the book “Spencer’s Mountain,” which was its inspiration. He was also the show’s narrator. So, what hair color did he want the family at the center of his fictional world to have?

According to Norton, he wanted them all to be red heads.

“In terms of hair, the initial thing during ‘The Homecoming’ was because Earl Hamner referred to his family as redheads, based on his father’s red hair they wanted all of the (Walton) children to have red hair,” Norton said in the video.

This was a bit of a problem because many of the actors in the show were not natural red heads.

“Richard Thomas did not have red hair,” Norton said. “I did not have red hair, nor did David Harper who played Jim Bob.”

An easy solution to this problem was dying their hair.

“So for the three of us, when they shot ‘The Homecoming’ they actually colored our hair,” Norton said. “My hair was dyed sort of an Auburn color for that TV movie.”

Some Actors on ‘The Waltons’ Also Had Their Hair Cut for the Production

The staff behind “The Waltons” did decide to dye Judy Norton’s hair back to her original color after “The Homecoming” was filmed. However, dyeing an actor’s hair wasn’t the only change the crew made.

“Then, of course, it was 1971 when we did ‘The Homecoming’ and 1972 when we started the series,” Norton shared. “For the boys, long hair was in. So they did cut all of their hair for ‘The Homecoming.'”

The actress also said that she was asked to cut her hair. Fortunately, however, someone else stepped in and did not allow that to happen.

“And they did ask me about my willingness to have my hair cut, kind of almost like a bowl cut for ‘The Homecoming,'” Norton recalled. “And, my agent on my behalf and for me too said no and, I was happy about that because I was rather attached to my long hair.”

Norton also said that for the girls on “The Waltons” they typically wore their hair down in the early seasons of the show. However, as her character aged to 16 or so, she thought Mary Ellen should wear her hair in a bun. This is what happened. Then, the character wore her hair down or in a partial bun. Later, Mary Ellen when to what Norton described as a “Farrah Fawcett” style.

“… I totally confess that was so not period,” Norton added. “And, I honestly don’t know why they got away with that. …”

You can watch Judy Norton talk about “The Waltons” and what things were like behind the scenes below.