Judy Norton didn’t always like the food served in The Waltons, even in the Thanksgiving episode
She always acted the part though, and sometimes that meant taking fake bites.
The Waltons revolved around food and eating more than most shows. The nostalgic drama is famous for its family dinner scenes where everyone enjoys a wonderful homecooked meal. The scenes often took all day to film. It was fun for the whole cast but especially the kids on set to get to eat all day and enjoy each other's company. Or at least, it was fun most of the time.
Judy Norton, who played oldest daughter Mary Ellen, revealed in a Youtube video that she didn’t love everything she ate on the show. If there ever was a particular dish she wasn’t fond of, she avoided it entirely unless she needed to eat it on camera. In those unfortunate cases, she used her acting skills to pretend she liked it or just take a totally fake bite.
One episode you would think contained nothing but delightful dishes would be “The Thanksgiving Story.” But there was one scene, early on before the actual Thanksgiving feast, where Grandma asks the other Walton women what they think of her relish.
“I don’t like relish,” Norton says in the video, “So at the point when I’m being given the relish to taste, I can guarantee I wasn’t eating that relish. I was faking that.” She continued, “If you couldn’t see that someone was eating, if it was something I didn’t like, I avoided eating it.”
Norton also noted a few unique things about the episode watching it back all these years later. There are parts of Walton’s Mountain seen in this installment that rarely, if ever, get seen any other times.
When Ben and Grandpa bring hams out of the root cellar, we get to see the doors open and Grandpa walking up the stairs. Norton notes that there wasn’t a full cellar under the house but even seeing proof that there were dugout stairs under the cellar doors is interesting.
Ben and Grandpa then bring the meat to the smokehouse beyond the shed. As they hang up their hams, we see the dark interior of the smokehouse – a rare location not seen much throughout the entire series.
The two-hour Thanksgiving installment packs in many different storylines, some funny, some dramatic. Jason helping the Baldwin sisters with their recipe, much to Olivia’s dismay, makes for plenty of comedic moments. When Mamie and Emily even offer to adopt Jason, John quips “That’s very nice, ladies, but we’re not giving up any of our children this year.”
Norton also mentions John-boy’s accident at the sawmill which threatens his plans for college and Mary Ellen’s aspirations to be an actress early on in the series. She even notes that one of Mary Ellen’s classmates is played by Kym Karath, best known as Gretl, the youngest Von Trapp child in The Sound of Music.
Watch Judy Norton’s full video below, she even brings on a few surprise guests!