‘The Waltons’: Why Judy Norton Says John Walton Actor Ralph Waite Was the Best Father Figure Role Model on TV

by Keeli Parkey
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The day after Father’s Day actress Judy Norton posted a video on YouTube that celebrated her on-screen father. The video is part of her ongoing “Behind the Scenes of ‘The Waltons’” series.

Norton played Mary Ellen Walton in the classic family drama. Her character’s father, John Walton Sr., was played by actor Ralph Waite.

“Since we just celebrated Father’s Day, I thought it only fitting that I do this segment paying tribute to all the wonderful actors who were Walton fathers, starting off with John Walton, played by the fabulous Ralph Waite,” Judy Norton said in the June 21 video.

While filming “The Waltons,” Norton shared many scenes with Waite.

“It was hard for me to pick just a handful of scenes or images that represented John Walton to me because he was all the best that one would hope for in a father,” Norton said.

She also praised Waite’s work as her on-screen father.

“Ralph just played him with such compassion and sincerity and strength of character,” Norton explained. “He was firm, he was strong, he was fair. He had such integrity and that was represented throughout the series.”

Judy Norton Said It ‘Was Hard Not to Admire’ John Walton

No father is without his share of mistakes and John Walton was no exception, according to Judy Norton.

“(John Walton) wasn’t perfect, which I also loved, but he was hard not to admire in his various different aspects,” Norton said. “Sometimes he was the fun-loving father, allowing the children to enjoy a fun afternoon playing with the hose in the front yard, and then taking us to the pond and sharing all these sort of just summer, summer moments in the heart and just having fun as a family.”

Judy Norton referenced the season one episode of “The Waltons” titled, “The Sinner.” It was in this episode, she said that the love of John Walton for his children was on display.

“But he was also so compassionate as when he had to console Erin when she lost GW,” Norton said. “And this was one of two letters he had to read to his daughters. Of course, he read a letter to me also when I lost Curt.”

Norton said she “treasured all” the scenes she shared with Ralph Waite.

Judy Norton Said Co-Star Ralph Waite ‘Had a Different Relationship’ With Each of ‘The Children’

She also recalled an episode when Mary Ellen’s father forgave her for acting live “such a brat.” That episode was titled, “The Minstrel.” Another special scene she shared with her on-screen father occurred in “The Grandchild” episode. It is in this episode that Mary Ellen gives birth to John’s first grandchild.

“He was always terrific with the babies,” Norton said of Waite. “I loved watching him. His interaction with them was so special – as it was with each one of us. And he had a different relationship with each one of the children. And I loved that as well.”

You can watch Judy Norton talk about “The Waltons” below. Her comments about Ralph Waite as a father figure and role model begin shortly after the video opens.

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