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Richard Thomas and Judy Norton played brother and sister on CBS’s popular series The Waltons. But the actor who portrayed Mary-Ellen Walton admits she had a bit of a crush on her on-screen sibling when they first met. In a recent video, Norton opened up about her feelings about Thomas (who played John-Boy Walton on the show) and what it was like to work with him on The Waltons.

Judy Norton admits she had a crush on Richard Thomas  

The Waltons cast in 1972
The Waltons cast in 1972 | Copyright CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved Credit: CBS Photo Archive

Norton and Thomas first worked together on The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the 1971 TV movie that spawned The Waltons. In a video shared on YouTube in September 2020, Norton talked about how she felt about Thomas at the time. 

“When we filmed The Homecoming, I had the biggest crush on Richard,” she shared. “I was 13, he was 20. I thought he was so wonderful and so admired him as an actor and a person.”

But Norton’s crush on her co-star was short-lived. 

“I grew out of it by the time we started the series,” she said. “We were just good friends throughout the series.” 

Norton says she missed Thomas after he left ‘The Waltons’  

Judy Norton on The Waltons in 1977
Peter Fox as Rev. Hank Buchanan and Judy Norton as Mary Ellen Walton in a 1977 episode of The Waltons | CBS via Getty Images

Thomas and Norton worked together on The Waltons for several years. But after five seasons, the actor who played John-Boy decided it was time to move on. He left the show after season 5, though he made a handful of guest appearances in season 6. Eventually, Robert Wrightman stepped into the role in seasons 8 and 9. 

“I really missed him when he left because of the energy that he brought to set, to any scene he was involved in. He was such a pro,” Norton said. “He always gave 110%.” 

Richard Thomas said ‘The Waltons’ cast was like family 

Richard Thomas accepting his Emmy
Richard Thomas accepts his Emmy Award in 1973 | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘The Waltons’: Olivia and John’s Love Story Wasn’t Just On-Screen

The Waltons portrayed a wholesome, all-American family living during the Great Depression. And the love TV audiences saw on screen wasn’t just an act. The cast members have close relationships to this day. 

“It was like a family. We still are,” Thomas said in a 2019 interview with Australian television program Studio 10. “We stay in touch. He added, “We all love each other very much.”

Although Thomas — who won an Emmy for his work on The Waltons — eventually decided to explore different career opportunities, that didn’t mean leaving was easy. 

“It was really, really sad,” Thomas said in a 2019 interview with the Television Academy. “I loved everybody, and it was horrible to leave. It was like leaving home. It was leaving home. I have the slate from my last shot of that show, which was a closeup of me. I have it in a frame, the last look. It was profoundly difficult …  I think people probably felt betrayed.”

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