‘The Waltons’: Why Judy Norton Never Took Her Character ‘Home’ With Her

by Joe Rutland

Actress Judy Norton learned how to leave work at, well, work when she played Mary Ellen on “The Waltons” during its run on CBS.

“I’ve always been an actor who can step into my character and step out of my character,” Norton said in response to a question on her YouTube show, “The Waltons – Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton.” “I have never found myself really taking the character home.

“Some characters are closer to me in nature,” she said. “I think Mary Ellen was closer to me than maybe some other characters because I started playing the character when I was young.”

‘The Waltons’ Star Said Confidence And Independence Are Part Of Herself And Her Character

Norton said there were similarities between the real-life Norton and “The Waltons” character Mary Ellen, such as being a tomboy.

“Being a bit of a rebel it’s easy although I’m not particularly rebellious in real life,” Norton said. “But the confidence and the independence, all of that, are a part of who I am, which is probably why it was such a good fit in terms of casting.”

Mary Ellen was the oldest daughter on the Earl Hamner-created family drama. She often found herself dealing with situations reflective of growing up in the Depression era.

Norton played Mary Ellen for the show’s nine-season run and reprised it in “The Waltons” reunion movies. At 63 years old, she stays active with theater work and also sharing memories and inside stories from the famed TV show.

Norton Learned How To Deal With Filming Scenes Out Of Sequence For The Series

With some previous acting work to her credit, Judy Norton was used to doing things in a certain order. Television shows, though, might film scenes in an out-of-order pattern.

This was the case for “The Waltons” and Norton had to adjust her style for the situation.

In another Q&A session from her YouTube series, Norton answers a question regarding her picturing the episode’s storyline.

“As I prepared for the scene I would take into account what had already happened to my character,” Norton said. “What would impact that moment in time in the story for the scene that I was filming?

“So, yes, I would keep the entire story in my mind,” she said. “And try to make sure that my performance reflected what had already occurred to my character and the family at the time we were shooting.”

Also, Norton felt like it was important for her to read the entire script. She did and it helped her perform well in her role.