‘The Waltons’: Why Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Says Eating on the Show Was ‘Sometimes Difficult’

by Clayton Edwards

Are you a fan of The Waltons? If so, you’ve probably had some questions about how things worked behind the scenes of the classic family drama. Well, if you have, we have some good news. Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton does a web series in which she talks all about the things that happened behind the cameras.

For instance, if you want more information on your favorite Waltons episode, Judy Norton probably has an episode on it. However, if she doesn’t, just stick around. She posts new videos all the time. In her web series, she breaks down entire episodes from the point of view of an actor. At the same time, she delivers small behind-the-scenes tidbits that you find anywhere else.

On the other hand, Judy Norton will sometimes talk about broader topics such as the wardrobes for the show or shooting locations. In her latest video, Norton discusses food on The Waltons. In part of that video, she talked about why eating could be difficult on the show.

Judy Norton on Why Eating Could be Difficult on The Waltons

Family meals were a big part of life on The Waltons. This was true for the on-screen family as well as the actors who portrayed them. However, Judy Norton said that eating all of that food got difficult if they weren’t careful.

Judy Norton went on to say that sometimes they would do scenes in the kitchen all day long. It wasn’t rare for them to shoot breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the family’s table in one day. She said there was “a lot of food” involved in days where they had several meal scenes. They weren’t just pretending to eat, either. They were actually putting the food away. So, it could be difficult to keep eating.

Then, Judy Norton broke down how the showrunners shot the dining scenes. First, she said, you would have the wide shot. In these shots, everyone was visible. So, everyone had to eat. Then, they would move the cameras to shoot close-ups. If an actor was in the shot, they had to keep eating or delivering lines. However, the crew would cover the plates of those who were not in the shot.

This presented a whole new kind of difficulty, Judy Norton said. Sometimes, actors would have to eat cold food on an already full stomach while shooting those close-up scenes.

However, she did say that she quickly learned a subtle trick to make eating on the show less difficult. She learned to not “overdo it first thing in the morning.” This lesson was twofold. For one, if an actor ate less in the morning, they would have room for more food later. At the same time, there were times when they had to match what they did over and over for the continuity of the shot. So, if an actor was eating a bunch of food, they would have to repeat that action a few times so no continuity errors arose in the dining scenes.