Kami Cotler fell out of The Waltons treehouse and her ''big sister'' took the blame
''I should have known better, and now my baby sister was hurt.'' Here's the story of one of the scariest moments behind the scenes of The Waltons.
The Waltons kids had a treehouse that would be the envy of any kid watching, and all the kids on set have said they definitely enjoyed playing up in the treehouse between filming scenes.
It was a place of much merriment — until it became the setting of one of the scariest moments any of the Waltons kids experienced on set. As Mary McDonough told the story in her autobiography Lessons from the Mountain, a scene was being filmed at Ike Godsey's store that didn't involve Erin, Elizabeth, or Jim-Bob. So, the actors who played those characters decided to climb up into the treehouse to goof off for a bit.
"It was a pretty fair climb up that pepper tree," McDonough said. "The entrance was a square cut out in the floor, and we climbed in and just sat there, talking and looking around."
It was just another idyllic day on set until McDonough heard little Kami Cotler scream. Cotler played Elizabeth, the youngest Walton sibling, and in a Facebook post, she once confirmed she was seven years old when she fell out of the treehouse.
"Scared the crew to death," Cotler recalled.
Perhaps no one on set was more scared than McDonough, who helplessly watched her "baby sister" drop out of the treehouse in horror.
"I heard a scream," McDonough wrote. "Kami had stepped back through the hole in the floor, fallen, and hit her head every inch of the way down."
"I was horrified, and I don't even remember getting myself down," McDonough said, remembering it was Jim-Bob actor David Harper who reached Kami first.
McDonough tried to comfort Kami until it was time to go to the hospital.
"She had a lump on her head the size of a lemon," McDonough said.
"They didn't let me play up there after that!" Cotler wrote on Facebook, seemingly laughing the incident off.
But for McDonough, it was hard to let go of the guilt she felt at not keeping a better watch on Kami. The lessons she learned on the mountain about caring for her family had clearly already gripped the Erin actor's heart.
"I was miserable," McDonough said. "I was the oldest, and I felt it was my fault. I should have known better, and now my baby sister was hurt."
Unfortunately for McDonough, nobody told her that it wasn't her fault that Kami fell. Accidents happen!
That night, McDonough said she prayed for forgiveness and wished she had been the one who had taken the fall instead. She got so down on herself, she convinced herself she would eventually be punished for being such a neglectful big sister.
But the punishment never came, and like the most shockingly resilient of kids, little Kami bounced back.
"My cloud didn't dissipate until after I saw Kami the next day and saw she was all right," McDonough said.
"The treehouse was my favorite place to play," Cotler wrote on Facebook, clearly wishing she'd spent more time in the tree, even after her fall.
In her book, McDonough couldn’t help but agree that a lot of fun was had, right up until this moment put an end to playtime with Kami in the treehouse for good.
"It was so fun to be up there with the bird's eye view of the house, the yard, and the mill," McDonough said.