‘The Waltons’: Why Filming on One Set Was Done All at Once

by Katie Maloney
(Photo by Ben Horton/Getty Images)

Actor Judy Norton is letting fans know exactly what life was like as an actor on “The Waltons.” Norton is more than just a former actor on the show. She’s also a sort of liaison between the show and its fans. For the past year, Norton has been connecting with fans through her video series. The series is called “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton.” During the show, Norton answers fans’ questions and reveals details about the show fans have never heard before.

During her latest episode, Norton detailed the daily life of an actor on “The Waltons.” She said that there were many factors that the cast and crew considered while planning a day of shooting. First, they planned which scenes they’d film first and with which actors.

“Now, how they laid out a day also made a difference. Because, obviously, getting 11 people ready for the first scene of the day takes longer than getting three or four people ready,” said Norton. “So, often, they might start with someone that involves fewer people. So there was more time to prepare additional actors for the second scene and the third scene.”

Norton said that the production staff created a visual schedule that the cast and crew could reference while planning a shoot day.

“Before an episode started, there would be a whole shooting board set up. That would lay out the proposed schedule for the entire episode,” said Norton.” “So that was the projected schedule that could change based upon any number of factors.”

Norton added that, luckily, weather was rarely a problem while filming “The Waltons” because they filmed in southern California.

Which Scenes for ‘The Waltons’ Had to Be Done All at One Time?

Any fan of the show knows that the Waltons had a lot of kids. Seven to be exact. A child actor, obviously, had to portray each of those characters. But it wasn’t as easy as just choosing a scene and starting to film. Because of strict child labor laws, the child actors could only legally work on set for a certain amount of hours per day.

“The children were always a factor because they had ore limitations on our time. The children typically had to be released by 6:30 pm and could only work for a total of nine hours including one hour for lunch,” said Norton. “So they would try to bookend with scenes with just the adults. So that, once the children were gone, there were still other scenes they could do.”

This worked well for the kids. But it definitely made for a more complicated work schedule for the adult actors. Actor Michael Learned who played Olivia on “The Waltons” once opened up about the frustrations of working with child actors. Learned said that she would often be sitting in her trailer for six or seven hours before filming started for her scenes.

Judy Norton talks about a day in the life of an actor on “The Waltons”