‘The Waltons’: Mary Ellen Actress Judy Norton Reveals How They Got ‘John-Curtis’ to Cry on Cue

by Clayton Edwards
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Judy Norton played Mary Ellen Walton for The Waltons‘ entire run. Then, she returned to reprise her role in the films based on the series. Currently, Norton hosts a web series in which she pulls back the curtain on the iconic 70s drama. She gives longtime fans as well as those who are just discovering the show some clear insight into what it was like to be part of one of TV’s favorite families.

Sometimes, Judy Norton discusses broad topics like shooting locations or wardrobes for the series. Other times, she talks about specific episodes of The Waltons. In these installments, she goes in-depth into what it was like to shoot the episodes. At the same time, she usually reveals a few trade secrets along the way.

In an episode of Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton, from February of this year, she discussed a specific episode. She broke down “The Obsession,” from season seven of The Waltons. In, “The Obsession,” Mary Ellen becomes addicted to medication and her life begins to spiral. In one scene, her son John Curtis is crying. However, Mary Ellen sleeps through his cries because of her addiction.

Scenes like this have made many fans wonder how they made the young actor cry on command.

Judy Norton Explains How They Made John Curtis Cry on ‘The Waltons’

Judy Norton says that she cannot remember exactly how they made the young actor cry for the scene in “The Obsession” for “The Waltons” series. She does, however, recall that there were several ways to get the twins who played John Curtis to cry. Fortunately, none of them were harmful to the children.

About the actual scene in “The Obsession,” Judy Norton said. “You can clearly see that he’s distressed and is crying. I don’t know that they would have made him cry.” Then, she goes on to offer some ways that the crew would cause the young actors to cry. One method was to give the child a favorite toy and let him play with it. Then, just before shooting the scene, they would take the toy away. This would result in a tantrum. At the same time, it wouldn’t cause any lasting harm to the child.

Judy Norton added, “Sounds terrible doesn’t it?” It really does.

However, Judy Norton said that sometimes they would just lay the baby down and wait for the tears to come. Then, they would start rolling. After all, babies are known to cry pretty often. So, they wouldn’t have had to wait too long.

Judy Norton also pointed out that sometimes the baby wasn’t even crying. If he was not on screen at the time, they would just edit in the sound of his cries from a previous scene.

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