While The Waltons stands as a classic TV series from the ’70s, fans still adore reruns today. The show featured the Walton family living in rural Virginia during the Great Depression, and it showcased how they got through the hard times with their family by their side.
Judy Norton played Mary Ellen Walton, and she joined the cast when she was just 13. But she later admitted production wasn’t as gracious to the younger stars as they should’ve been. Here’s what she said.
Some of the actors from ‘The Waltons’ felt production took advantage of them
The cast of The Waltons generally seemed to get along quite well. Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, Will Geer, Judy Norton, and many others made their mark on television forever by taking part in the iconic series. But it seems there was a lot to be desired when it came to their relationships with production.
A few of the cast member spoke to Closer Weekly regarding the darker side of the show. Eric Scott, the actor who played Ben Walton, said he wasn’t paid enough by show runners.
“We did not get rich from that show,” Scott explained to Closer Weekly.
Learned also commented on the cheapness of the production company. “The running joke was that Lorimar was so cheap that their idea of a party was one can of beer and 13 straws!” she told the publication.
Judy Norton said production barely thanked them for their work
Norton also commented on what she noticed from production. She told Closer Weekly that producers had a lot more respect for the older adults working on the show, and the younger actors weren’t given nearly as many perks. While Learned was reportedly given a large flower arrangement for all of her hard work, the younger folks were barely given anything.
“[Learned] went to the producers and said, ‘These kids have given you years of their lives and you can’t even get them something?’” Norton recalled. “We ended up getting a little muffin basket with, like, three muffins in it.”
Scott also said he felt incredible pressure from the studio to be the perfect actor and didn’t receive any much-needed praise. “It was disappointing that no one even called to say, ‘By the way, thank you,’” he added. “We were loved by the public, but we never felt the studio appreciated us.”
Norton echoed the sentiments decades later
Despite some of the on-set difficulties, Norton still had an amazing time playing Mary Ellen. “I wish I’d been as rebellious in real life sometimes as she was,” Norton told Studio 10 in 2018. “It was great to vicariously get to portray all that. It got it out of my system.” But she did admit there was some difficulty playing the part.
“It was a period in time where children in television were not particularly the focus in shows,” Norton added. “The focus was more on the adults, and we were a bit more peripheral. So, we felt that behind the scenes as well.”
Norton moved on from The Waltons with plenty of success of her own. And she even made the bold move of posing for Playboy in her late 20s, as she thought this would get her more roles. “I was getting a lot of advice from people who were representing me at the time,” she told Fox News. “They felt it would be a good, positive career move.”
Now, Norton noted she’d choose differently. But it doesn’t seem like she regrets her time on The Waltons or the choices she made at the time. We’re looking forward to seeing what she does in the future!
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