“The Waltons” star Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton on the TV show, believed “The Waltons” was a show for all ages.
Norton spoke to the Houston Press in 2016 about the show’s appeal to multiple generations when it aired in the 1970s, as well as in the years since then. “The Waltons” follows a rural Virginia family during the Great Depression years.
“There’s a charm because it was a period piece,” Norton said then. “I think for my show, the fans [of any age] can relate because the characters are real and multi-generational. And it represents an ideal of family that we’d all like to have: tight, close and supportive. It dealt with human issues and interpersonal relations and struggles. And there’s no technology.”
Several ‘The Waltons’ Stars Went On to Other Entertainment Jobs
After “The Waltons,” some stars – such as Eric Scott and David W. Harper – struggled to find work. But some of the show’s actors went on to other stage, television and film jobs.
For example, Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy, went on to appear in the FX drama “The Americans,” among other projects. And Norton starred in the Canadian police series “Bluff” and in the indie film “Finding Harmony.” She also appeared in a production of “Hello, Dolly!” in Galveston.
But whether they continued to work in entertainment or not, all of the cast of “The Waltons” were saddened by the passing of Ralph Waite in 2014 at age 85, per People magazine. Waite reportedly had a “big heart” and set a good example for the other performers around him.
Actors Stayed Close After Show Ended
The actors who portrayed the Waltons became a tight-knit family during the show. And those connections lasted long after it ended in 1981.
“We’re still a great big family, believe it or not,” Thomas told Fox News last year. “We stay in touch and that circle has never been broken. But just the memory of working with all of those wonderful people, that’s the thing that makes me happiest of all.”
The fame that came with being on “The Waltons” was jarring for many of the actors, including Thomas himself, he told Fox. And the actors who were young at the time had to cope with the so-called child curse – child actors often don’t end up happy or successful, despite their early celebrity. But Thomas said he didn’t let it get to him.
“For children, it’s really complicated,” he said. “It depends on how stable your home life is. But also by the time “The Waltons” came along and was a hit, I’d been acting since I was 8 years old. So for me, it was a job. It was what I did. It was my work. I was pretty disciplined, but I just took it in stride. And I had a good stable home life with parents who were also performers.”
Their performances made the “Waltons” stars cultural icons until well after the show’s final episode aired. And fans of all ages have made “The Waltons” part of their lives.