‘The Waltons’: Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Says the Baldwin Sisters Were the Most ‘Fun’

by Katie Maloney
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“The Waltons” star Judy Norton opens up about what it was like working with the actresses who played the Baldwin sisters.

During an episode of her video series, “Behind-the-Scenes with Judy Norton,” Norton talked about the Baldwin sisters. The Baldwin sisters, played by Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson, were quirky yet refined and brought all kinds of storylines to “The Waltons.” One of the most notable (and funny) scenes with the sisters included them sharing tastes of their father’s “recipe” (moonshine) to neighbors and passersby.

“The Baldwin sisters were first introduced in ‘The Homecoming,'” said Norton. ‘We were thrilled to have Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson for our nine seasons of ‘The Waltons.’ Both of them had long careers in Hollywood and in theater before joining us on ‘The Waltons.'”

The Actresses Developed an Entire Background Story for Their Characters, Each Other, Their Father, and Their House

Norton added that Mary Jackson and Ralph Waite were already friends after having done theater together for years before the show. Although Kleeb and Jackson didn’t really know each other before being cast as sisters, their bond was incredibly convincing.

“They were so wonderful together. And they really worked on the onscreen relationship,” said Norton. “They, on their own time, would do so much rehearsal. And you saw how those two characters finished each other’s sentences. It was like one mind in two bodies. Well, that doesn’t just come naturally. That came from the craft of working out those scenes and working out that dialogue. The times where they would just look at each other, share a look, and then complete a sentence. It was brilliant work and looked so seamless that you just totally bought that these two were sisters from birth.”

Norton said that Kleeb and Jackson developed an entire history for their individual characters on “The Waltons.” They also created backstories for their relationship together and their house on the show.

“They built a whole storyline for articles, things around the house,” said Norton. “They built a whole history about their father the Judge. So they did extensive background work for these characters. And it really paid off because there was such consistency to everything they did. And I just always found their scenes so delightful,” said Norton.

“In real life they were absolutely lovely ladies. They were kind, they were generous. They were really smart,” said Norton. “Just their comedic sense and timing was brilliant. So working scenes with them was simple. You never had to worry about what they were going to do. It was very easy to just do a scene with them and react in the moment…and they just constantly made me smile.”

Anyone Remember Emily Baldwin’s Long-Lost Love on ‘The Waltons’?

And of course, we can’t talk about the Baldwin sisters without also talking about Emily Baldwin’s long-lost love, Ashley Longworth. Emily constantly shared details about their short-lived romance. Emily and Ashley shared only one kiss before Ashley left and never returned, but Emily never forgot him. Norton said that the beauty with which Emily reminisced about her love for Ashley added to the humor of their story on “The Waltons.”

“The poetry with which she reflect on their short time together makes for a lot of fun storylines,” said Norton.

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