‘The Waltons’: Why Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Was ‘Personally Very Happy’ to Move Back Into Walton Family Home

by Joe Rutland
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“The Waltons” actress Judy Norton expressed a lot of joy when her character, Mary Ellen, was able to move back into the family home.

Norton, who hosts “Behind The Scenes of The Waltons,” spoke at length about the episode called “The First Casualty.” In it, her husband Dr. Curtis Willard, played by Tom Bower, goes off to join the military. Mary Ellen is left with their son, John Curtis, so decisions need to be made.

“With Curt heading off to Camp Lee, my parents show up and say I’m moving back to the house which I’m happy to do,” Norton said. “And personally, for me, I was very happy to do that.”

‘The Waltons’ Actress Would Find Herself Less Involved In Show

Norton said that once she married and moved out of the family home, she wasn’t as involved with the show.

“I was in fewer scenes,” she said. “They had to work to put me into scenes and storylines where I would show up.” Norton also said she had less to do with “The Waltons” but moving her character made a difference. Mary Ellen started showing up more on a regular basis.

For an actress like Norton, that’s a good thing. She played Mary Ellen in all nine seasons that “The Waltons” aired on CBS before the show was canceled in 1981. Norton has stayed busy with stage work and also being part of post-series TV movies with the show’s cast.

Norton Found Herself Visiting Big-Name Stars On Nearby Sets

Imagine getting the opportunity to see and meet other actors and actresses while on one of TV’s top-rated dramas.

That’s exactly what happened for Norton on “The Waltons” during its run. The show was filmed at Warner Bros. Studios, giving her plenty of chances to run into movie stars.

“The Waltons” soundstage was used for the 1976 movie “A Star is Born” with Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand. Norton said she saw Streisand on set one day but admits that she was too “tongue-tied” to talk with her.

Her show’s costume designer also worked on “All The President’s Men,” another 1976 film. Its interior shots were filmed at Warner Bros. Norton happened to visit the costume designer on the movie’s set and saw Robert Redford talking over a scene with the director.

But when Elton John drops by, well then…that’s a whole other thing.

“During his ‘Yellow Brick Road Tour,’ he was in town and wanted to come by and meet the cast,” Norton said. “And he came into our schoolroom trailer and stayed in there for probably 20 minutes talking with us. He gave us all tickets to go see his concert…That’s a memory I will never forget.”

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