Then and Now

'The Waltons' star Eric Scott: 'We never felt the studio appreciated us'

“The Waltons” has garnered lasting success for delivering a gripping TV drama about a Depression-era family living in Virginia’s rural Blue Ridge Mountains, but not everyone on set felt appreciated for their work.

Eric Scott, who appeared as middle child Ben in the series, told Closer Weekly he felt “intense pressure” to deliver his lines, and yet he never received encouragement as an actor from the studio.


“It was disappointing that no one even called to say, ‘By the way, thank you,’” said the 58-year-old. “We were loved by the public, but we never felt the studio appreciated us.”


Scott claimed that despite the show's growing popularity, no one was paid what they were worth.

“We did not get rich from that show,” he said.

Judy Norton, who played eldest daughter Mary Ellen, claimed the show’s younger stars didn’t receive the same acknowledgement for their efforts as the older actors. She remembered how Michael Learned, who starred as beloved matriarch Olivia Walton, was gifted a large arrangement of flowers from the producers, but was shocked to discovered nothing was sent to her on-screen children.

“She went to the producers and said, ‘These kids have given you years of their lives and you can’t even get them something?’” said Norton. “We ended up getting a little muffin basket with, like, three muffins in it.”

Despite their feelings toward the studio, the cast enjoyed working alongside each other. Learned described how the chemistry she shared with Ralph Waite, who played John Walton, Sr., was real. It compelled them to try dating at one point, but the match wasn’t meant to be.


“We were both single,” said the 78-year-old. “So I drove out to Malibu, but we just looked at each other and said, ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’ So all of our lovemaking was on-screen!”

As for Waite, Norton said “The Waltons” inspired him to give up drinking.

“He credited the show for being the reason he got sober,” said Norton. “He said, ‘I sat there one day at the kitchen table with all of you kids and I felt like such a fake.’ He took himself into AA and got sober.”

Today, the cast has zero regrets for being part of “The Waltons,” which aired from 1972 until 1981.

“They will say ‘John-Boy dies’ in the news when I’m gone,” said Richard Thomas, who starred as the iconic eldest child. “And that is fine with me. ‘The Waltons’ stands out as not only an important part of my life and career, but also a wonderful part.”


Learned previously told Fox News she has grown closer with her former cast-mates over the years.

“We’re still so close,” said Learned. “We love each other, and we can’t wait to be together. It’s like time hasn’t passed. We were close at the time, and we’re even closer today… They’re like my second family.”