‘The Waltons’ Actor Didn’t Understand How Successful Show Was Until It Finished: Here’s Why

by John Jamison
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Kami Cotler played Elizabeth Walton on “The Waltons” for the show’s entire run from 1972 to 1981. Born in 1965, Cotler was just six years old when she first started playing the character that would make her famous.

Like you’d expect from any six-year-old, Cotler couldn’t fully grasp the scope of the situation in which she found herself. As a result, she didn’t even really know she was on a successful television show until “The Waltons” finished airing. Even then, she was only 16 years old. Kami Cotler had a more successful acting career than most before she became an adult.

As the youngest member of the Walton family, Cotler’s character wasn’t as recognizable as Richard Thomas’ John-Boy. But she was definitely famous. And as the popularity of “The Waltons” grew, her life changed in ways that she couldn’t quite understand at the time.

In a 2017 Q&A style interview with Vision TV, Cotler talked about how it took her years to understand the impact of “The Waltons.”

“I was too young to understand the scale. When you are little, you tend to just accept your experience as normal,” Cotler said. “There was a time when we had to stop going to amusement parks, because getting recognized could result in too big a crowd to manage. But, I don’t remember feeling like it was an unreasonable burden. It was just how it was.”

That’s some classic kid thinking if we’ve ever seen it. The Elizabeth Walton actress only began to notice that something significant was happening when trips to amusement parks were no longer an option. Nothing like taking Disneyland away from a child to get their attention. At least “The Waltons” star doesn’t have negative memories from that time.

Kami Cotler Didn’t Pursue an Acting Career Until After ‘The Waltons’

A 10 year run on a show as iconic as “The Waltons” is more success than 99.9% of actors will ever have the privilege of finding in their careers. And that’s not throwing any shade on the profession. It’s just to illustrate how Kami Cotler must have felt as a teenager when the show came to an end.

The horror stories of TV child stars are endless. It’s often difficult for them to find roles as adults because they are so recognizable from their childhood roles. Kami Cotler avoided that possibility when she decided to pursue a different career entirely.

Instead of pressing on into an acting career through her late teenage years, Cotler went to school. She got an education and decided that she’d rather teach acting instead. Although, she continued to reprise her role as Elizabeth Walton in all of the subsequent “Waltons” specials. Aside from those appearances, she doesn’t have many other screen acting credits to her name.

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