Judy Norton of The Waltons is Still Known to Fans as Mary Ellen



Not all actors and actresses have the ability to state that they once played a significant part on an iconic television series. For some, this becomes an unmoveable burden. To others, it is a prestigious bragging right worth taking pride in.

One actress who has such a bragging right in her possession is Judy Norton from “The Waltons.” Over the course of 212 episodes from 1971-1981, Nelson starred as Mary Ellen, the eldest daughter on Walton’s Mountain.  

In an interview with, Norton (who stars in the 2018 film “Inclusion Criteria,” and has two other projects in the works) opened up about how “The Waltons” affected her life.

“People still identify me with Mary Ellen. I’m recognized and I still get called Mary Ellen far more than Judy!” Admitted Norton. “We’re so fortunate to have done a show [and] to have a long-term impact on people.

The Waltons

In 2017, partook in a fascinating interview with Waltons star Kami Cotler. Here, we discussed her time on the classic series, as well as her rewarding life away from the cameras.Click here to read that interview.

“The show is in Canada and other parts of the world, what a legacy, a timeless show,” she added. “Timeless things and family values, core human experiences – those aren’t strictly about the 1930s and 40s; I think it’s so important that that is represented in our films and TV today.”

Perhaps, what has allowed Norton to seemingly be comfortable with still being thought of as Mary Ellen is the fact that she had such a wonderful time working on “The Waltons.”

The Waltons - Family Photo

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“I think most of it was really cast-related, working with a group of people I love, sitting around and doing table scenes,” said Norton, when discussing her favourite memories from that era. “We would be in there all day and the set would get so hot with 30 people in there – with the cast and crew – and we’d get punchy, we would get silly.”

She continued: Ralph Waite would crack off-colour jokes and then Michael (Learned) would start laughing and couldn’t stop. Then Mary McDonough would hold her hand to try and get her to stop. When you have that comfort level of working with people, those things were very special.”

-Adam Grant

The Waltons - Radio

Recently, Norton spoke with VisionTV’s cohorts at about what it was like to play Mary Ellen: “I liked that she was rebellious. I probably was too, but didn’t always have the nerve to express it,” offered Norton. “I didn’t like to get in trouble, so I would tend to rebel on the inside. So being able to express that nature through a character gave me a safe way to be rebellious. (laughs) She fought back and was outspoken, and I enjoyed those characteristics.”
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