From the intense hours to the public scrutiny, being a child star can be difficult. For The Waltons actress Mary McDonough, it lead to bullying.
McDonough played Erin Walton for nearly a decade. During that time, America got to watch her grow up.
McDonough had to be out of school a lot, and while bullying would sometimes occur there, it also happened on The Waltons set.
“Someone’s daughter was working on the show. We had the kids as extras in our schoolroom. And she told me that I didn’t really get the part and that it wasn’t mine and that they wanted someone else because I had never acted before I was brand new and that the only reason I got to get the part is because I looked like Earl Hamner’s real-life sister,” she said in a 2014 interview.
It would be a devastating thing to hear at any age, but McDonough was still just a child.
“I was ten and horrified and I took it into my heart and I thought ‘Oh no. oh no. all of the kids know how to do this and I don’t and there’s something wrong with me’ and it just fed into my sense of trying to be perfect, and I never told anybody.”
Words really do hurt, and the upsetting experience left a very lasting impression on McDonough and her overall experience on The Waltons. When asked about what it did to her self-esteem, Mcdonough’s response was truly saddening.
“It tanked,” she said. “It completely rocked an already rocky sense of who I was. I developed all types of insecurities and it eventually developed into an eating issue and a food issue and body image issues. And I was supposed to be the pretty one, so I always felt this pressure,” she said. Many stars face intense pressure and scrutiny without early childhood bullying.
Mary McDonough Made Close Friends on The Set of ‘The Waltons’
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. McDonough also made plenty of good memories while filming The Waltons. She made fast friends with a lot of people on set, including Mary Ellen actress Judy Norton. The two became so close that they remained friends off set. In fact, they even went on vacation together between seasons.
The two helped each other out through the harder times on set, and laughed together during the fun points. Thankfully, McDonough managed to make lasting connections and perform her little heart out despite the harsh words of a bitter bully.