‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Showed Off Nitty Gritty of Scripting and Scheduling

by Clayton Edwards

The Waltons was a massive hit when it aired. Today, many people still tune in to see what life was like in simpler times. The Appalachian family for nine seasons as well as six made-for-TV movies. Judy Norton played Mary Ellen Walton for the duration of the franchise. Additionally, she appeared in several other films and television shows. As a result, she is well-versed in what it takes to get a film or series moving.

Currently, Judy Norton hosts a YouTube series in which she shares behind-the-scenes knowledge about The Waltons. Fans can find all manner of trivia about the show online. However, Norton is able to deliver things that no one else could. On top of that, she does it all from the perspective of a skilled actor who was there every step of the way.

In the most recent installment of Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton, the Waltons star discussed scripts and scheduling for the show.

Judy Norton on Scripts

Judy Norton started by talking about how scripts work. She’s talking about The Waltons, but she implies that it’s standard procedure. Before she moves on, Norton pulls out her visual aide. It’s the script for the classic episode “Day of Infamy,” which is a favorite among Waltons fans.

First, Judy Norton removes a small stack of yellow and pink pages from the binder. These, she says, are revisions that she never took the time to put into the script. Then, she goes on to show what a page looks like. Basically, the script explains the location, time of day, and other details about a scene’s setting. After setting the scene, the script gives actors some direction as well as dialogue.

Then, Judy Norton talked about how much she would have to remember for each day. She notes that it wasn’t necessary to remember the entire script. “If I had, say, six or eight pages of dialogue, for the next day of filming, I would learn all those lines the night before.”

With a laugh, Judy Norton says, “Short-term memory is what it’s all about when you’re doing television.”

Scheduling ‘The Waltons’

After talking about the script, Judy Norton discussed how they knew when they were going to shoot which scenes. To explain this, she pulled out a call sheet. The call sheet lists all the information about a given day. For instance, it shows which scenes they’ll be shooting, where those scenes take place, and who is in them.

Additionally, it notes what time each actor needs to be in makeup and when they should be on the set. That information let the cast and crew know what lines to learn, where to be, and when to show up.