What Happened to the Waltons After The Waltons Finished?

by JoHarrington

We're going to have to assume that the Walton family lived happily ever after. This Wizzley article is all about the actors who played them!

'The Waltons' ran for nine seasons, completing a decade of the wildly successful television show.

It was heralded by a pilot made-for-TV movie in 1971, and cancelled in 1981. 'The Waltons' limped on through the '80s and '90s with no less than six sequel films. Then the cast dispersed for good.

For some of the actors, their lives thereafter would have shocked their on-screen characters to the core.

For most, the long shadow of growing up in the public eye - as the epitome of a good, wholesome person - was the catalyst for such dodgy subsequent decisions.

The Curse of Child Stars on a Successful Show

Deadly conditions, reclusive behaviour, courier services, Scientology, deafness, life mirroring art, music and teaching. Welcome to the world beyond Walton's Mountain.

Image: The Walton children in 2002.Imagine that you've grown up in the public eye. That everybody knows your face with the familiarity of a member of their own family.

And it's a visage that they associate with wholesome living, family values and God-fearing goodness.

Then imagine trying to get a job.

Especially as an actor, in an age when the public appetite has moved beyond wholesome and good. After all, that's why The Waltons was cancelled in the first place.

For most of the young cast of the show, this was the reality that they faced. How they reacted to the challenge wasn't always with the wisest of choices.

Today Show: The Waltons 40th Year Reunion

The tales from Walton's Mountain invoke an age of innocence; though naturally we're talking about the fictional family, not the actors who played them!

The Complete Set of The Waltons: Seasons 1-9 on DVD

Waltons: Complete Seasons 1-9 & Movie Collection

Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned. All nine seasons of one of America's most beloved series ever is coupled with all six reunion movies spanning a total of 26 years o...

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The Waltons: The Complete Seasons 1-9

Individually packaged seasons.

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Whatever Happened to John-Boy Walton?

Richard Thomas continued to be a successful actor, though his career was threatened when he started to go deaf.

Image: Richard Thomas as John Boy WaltonIn a nutshell, the show was all about John-Boy Walton's aspirations to make it as a writer. He realized his dream by telling stories about the Walton family.

Change the word 'writer' to 'actor', and this doubles as a brief biography for Richard Thomas too.

As the luckiest - or best advised - of the Walton children actors, he was the only one who was able to translate the show's success into further acting roles.

However, he had two factors working in his favor. The first was that Richard could act elsewhere, concurrently with playing John-Boy Walton. He was an adult actor, even at the show's beginning, so bypassed the legal time restrictions placed upon his peers.

He carefully selected roles which were the antithesis of his Walton character. As that show's first season galloped underway, viewers could also watch Richard Thomas as a murderer and rapist in You'll Like My Mother.

The second factor was that he left The Waltons, just as it reached the height of its popularity. Audiences became used to seeing another actor (Robert Wightman) as the face of John-Boy. It further muddied the stereotyping waters somewhat.

Since then, Richard Thomas has never been out of acting work. He's featured in several movies, plays and television shows, in a variety of roles.

Richard Thomas Movies

Stalking Laura

aka 'I Can Make You Love Me'. Richard Thomas stars as Richard Farley, whose unrequited obsession with co-worker Laura leads to mass murder and the first anti-stalking laws.

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Roots: The Next Generations

Richard Thomas is Jim Warner - a white man disowned by his family, after he marries an African-American schoolteacher in 1882 Tennessee.

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Annie's Point (Hallmark)

Richard Eason (Richard Thomas) is determined that his mother should go into a care-home. She has better ideas, like a wild adventure across America.

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Stephen King's It

Based on the King Of Horror's 1986 bestseller, "It". Richard Thomas plays the adult Bill Denbrough, returning to the site of childhood trauma to face down a murderous being.

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The Deafness of John-Boy Walton

By the time The Waltons was cancelled, in 1981, Richard Thomas hadn't been in the show for five years.

But he was having troubles of his own, which could well have halted his acting career there and then.

For some time, Richard had gradually been losing his hearing. It happened so slowly, that he didn't immediately realize. Now he was thirty years old, and the encroaching deafness had become extremely pronounced.

Crunch time for the actor came when he was sitting in a restaurant, and could no longer follow the conversation of his fellow diners. He visited his doctor, who discovered that Richard had lost 50% of his hearing.

He was diagnosed with cochlear otosclerosis - abnormal bone growth destroying his cochlear - the progress of which was quickly halted with treatment. He has worn hearing aids ever since.

Richard Thomas used his fame to raise awareness of partial hearing loss. He became the national chairman of the Better Hearing Institute.

Richard Thomas Deaf Awareness Commerical (1985)

Unilateral hearing affects a significant percentage of the population. How would you welcome a client or guest with this kind of deafness?
Unilateral hearing can result in some excruciatingly awkward social situations. A heart-breaking search query has led to this article.

Whatever Happened to Jason Walton?

Jon Walmsley became a musician, marrying first his on-screen wife, then a 'Waltons' fan. He toured with Richard Marx and Roger Daltrey.

Image: Jon Walmsley as Jason WaltonIn The Waltons, Jason was a musical child, who developed a talent for playing a variety of instruments. He eventually became a musician and married Toni Hazleton.

That's precisely what happened to Jon Walmsley too!  Including marrying Lisa Harrison, the actress who played Toni.

Except that it was Jason copying Jon. The couple were already wed, when Lisa joined the cast of The Waltons in 1980.

However, the wedding really was like a scene from the show. Ralph Waite (John Walton) is an ordained Presbyterian minister in real life, so he officiated over their vows. Then it was off to Michael Learned's (Olivia Walton) house for the reception. All of Jon's on-screen siblings attended the nuptials.

Unfortunately the marriage didn't last. Jon and Lisa divorced in 2008, after twenty-nine years together. They have one daughter named Brighton, but can no longer stand to be in the same room as each other.

The ink was barely dry on the divorce papers, before Jon was heading down the altar again with his Bavarian bride, Marion.

He had been on a promotional tour in Europe, wherein fans of The Waltons were able to meet the stars. (It's a testimony to the enduring popularity of the show, that this was possible and well attended nearly thirty years after the last season was filmed.)

The future Marion Walmsley was one of the fans who came to see him in Germany. The couple now live in Los Angeles, California.

Jason Walton dreamed of making a living playing music.  Jon Walmsley did.

After The Waltons ended, the actor apparently didn't even try to secure more film or television work. He committed himself full-time to his music career instead.

For much of the 1980s, Jon played guitar, as part of the background bands supporting Richard Marx, Roger Daltrey and other soloists. When those stars waned, Jon struck out alone, or with his own band, UK Beats.

Music by Jon Walmsley

Music by Lisa Harrison

Whatever Happened to Mary Ellen Walton?

Judy Norton-Taylor posed nude for Playboy and became a Scientologist. She also holds two world records for sky-diving.

Image: Judy Norton as Mary Ellen WaltonPlaying Mary Ellen Walton cast a long shadow over the acting career of Judy Norton (now Judy Norton-Taylor). 

It wasn't until 1997 - sixteen years after The Waltons was over - that bit parts in television shows began trickling in again. It's only been recently that such roles have been recurring.

In 2013, she featured three times as Judge Sophia Wyndom in Bluff. It's a crime drama based upon the Canadian show Poker Girls, which also sees Judy with writing and directing credits.  In 2014, there will be four appearances as The Organizer, in Disorganized Zone.

The problem was quickly identified. Just as soon as Judy attended auditions, in the aftermath of The Waltons, she was informed that Mary Ellen was just too 'goody-goody'. Viewers wouldn't find her believable in any other role, let alone more meaty ones.

In 1985, four years after the cancellation of the show, Judy decided to 'shake things up'. That's when she approached Playboy magazine and featured as its naked centerfold.

It didn't work. The press had a field day, and people like me have brought it up in articles ever since. All of us following the same theme - what would Mary Ellen Walton say about this?!

Nobody at all had much to say a year later, when Judy entered into several sky-diving championships and emerged with two world records. After all, that kind of athletic enterprise was precisely the sort of thing that Mary Ellen would do.

Judy did secure a series of stage roles in low key theaters. It was hardly Broadway, but it paid the bills. She also toured as a singer, but again only in small-scale venues.

It was this dearth of work, which finally saw her move to Canada for eight years, where she bought two theaters and acted as artistic co-director with her second husband, Randy Apostle. The couple had been living in Los Angeles until then.

When that marriage began to fail, Judy returned to the USA with her young son, Devin. Her divorce came through in 2001. A year later, she married her third husband, Robert Graves.

This time around, the acting roles finally began to arrive. But they have yet to reach anything like the level she enjoyed as Mary Ellen.

Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft

In this 2013 movie, Judy Norton-Taylor plays Allyson, the mother of Hansel and Gretel. It's not exactly a large role and the film was slated by critics. But it's something!

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The Scientology of Mary Ellen Walton

For some, it's a dangerous cult ensnaring Hollywood's rich and famous. For Judy, it's an empowering religion, which got her the part of Mary Ellen.

In 1971, Judy's real life elder sister Ricki was having boyfriend troubles. In a bid to cheer her up, their stepmother took both girls to her Scientology meetings.

Two weeks later, the thirteen year old actress learned that she'd secured the coveted role of Mary Ellen Walton. She did not see that as a coincidence. Judy and her sister ended up accompanying their stepmother to meetings, three evenings a week thereon.

At first it was just a bit of fun, somewhere to go and hang out with friends. As the years flew by, Judy started taking a keener interest in the underlying philosophy. By 1976, when The Waltons was in its fifth season, she had reached the level of Scientologist minister.

It was at a workshop there that she met Douglas Taylor. A fellow minister, he is the reason that her surname became hyphenated to Norton-Taylor. In the same year that Mary Ellen married Curtis Willard on-screen, Judy tied the knot with Douglas off-screen.

Unfortunately, the marriage only lasted two years. But she remains a committed Scientologist to this day.

Books About Scientology

Learn more about the religion to which Judy Norton-Taylor subscribes.

Whatever Happened to Ben Walton?

He gave up on acting and became the CEO of a courier company instead. Tragedy struck in his personal life.

Image: Eric Scott as Ben Walton1981 was a bad year for Eric Scott.  Not only was The Waltons cancelled, but he was also divorced by his wife of two years, Karey Louis Scott.

Waltons fans once glimpsed her by the way.  She played Erato in the season 9 episode The Threshold, while still married to Eric in real life.

The actress couldn't cope with the deep depression into which Eric slipped, when he realized that no studio would hire a Walton for other roles.

For the first year or two, he kept on trying. He described the rejection letters as 'devastation', which pushed him even further into decline. Eventually, he found himself merely alone sitting around the house watching Bonanza on repeat.

Which wasn't to say that there weren't any parts at all. Eric was a supporting actor in a film by cult movie director Larry Buchanan in 1982. But even by his 'schlockmeister' standards, the Loch Ness Horror was bad.

Trailer for The Loch Ness Horror (1982)

Loch Ness Horror

VHS Video Loch Ness Horror starring Barry Buchanan, Miki McKenzie and Sandy Kenyon. Monterey Home Video 1982 release. "An increasing number of people are dying mysterious deaths...

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Loch Ness Horror

An increasing number of people are dying mysterious deaths in the dark waters of Loch Ness, victims of the famous monster. But what other mysteries does the Loch hold?

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Eric also had a bit part in an episode of The Fall Guy in 1985, but otherwise there were simply no roles for him. Rapidly running out of money, he had to get a job and fast. 

Looking down the 'situations vacant' column of the local newspaper, he found an advertisement for Chase Messengers - a courier company - who were looking for drivers. The wage wasn't quite the $250,000 dollars that he was used to as an actor on The Waltons, but he went for it anyway. It was the beginning of the career path, upon which he's still on to this day.

He recalled a distinctly low point during the 1980s, when he had to deliver a message to the executive of his old studio. In his courier uniform, Eric hurried past a massive, full-length promotional poster for The Waltons - in which his younger self beamed back in all innocence. Neither those at the front desk, nor the executive, recognized him.

As the years passed, Eric was promoted to a position in the sales department. He later joined the management team. 

These days, his bread and butter job is as CEO of Chase Couriers, an off-shoot of Chase Messengers. However, a couple of cameo roles in acting have transpired too. In 1997, he was Steinman in Defying Gravity - a film about gay rights - and in 2001, he played Arthur in the romantic comedy Never Again.

Personal tragedy has dogged Eric Scott's life too.  In September 1989, he married Theresa Fargo, a woman whom he'd known since high school. The two were well suited and genuinely in love.

When she became pregnant, in 1992, they decorated a nursery, picked out names and attended pre-natal classes with all the excitement and enthusiasm of any expectant parents. But late in the pregnancy, Theresa developed a rash and became quite lethargic. The couple thought nothing much about that, assuming it was a natural reaction, part of expecting a baby.

Better safe than sorry, they visited their doctor, who grew concerned enough to direct them to the hospital for further tests. It turned out that she had acute myelomonocytic leukemia.

That was October 30th 1992.  On November 3rd, their daughter Ashley was born via Caesarian section, a month early, in order to save her life. Two days later, Theresa died having not seen her baby.

Eric was left in mourning, with a premature new-born daughter and a full-time job. Family members immediately rallied around to help him, culminating with Theresa's Auntie Jean relocating from her home in Montana. She lived with Eric, so to care for the baby.

There was a further complication too. Eric is Jewish, Theresa was Catholic. Eric was determined that Ashley would be raised with knowledge of both religions. Fortunately, the local rabbi and priest were able to work together to help him forge a feasible compromise.

Eric Scott was at a grief counseling session, when he met Cynthia Ullman Wolfen. Her husband had died of lung cancer, so the two had plenty to talk about. Bit by bit, that mutual support became a real friendship, then romance.

They married in March 2001, and their daughter Emma was born a few months later. Their family was completed in 2004, when their son Jeremy Ethan arrived.

A fact that's delighted fans of The Waltons is that Cynthia goes by the name Cindy. Ben got to marry Cindy in real life too!  (Though, unlike Jon, not the actress who played the screen version!)

Behind the Scenes on The Waltons

Eric Scott, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned and Kami Cotler discuss filming those classic dinner table scenes.

Whatever Happened to Erin Walton?

Mary McDonough is still acting, but doing so against a background of chronic pain and fatigue after contracting lupus.

Image: Mary Beth McDonough as Erin WaltonThroughout her time on The Waltons, Mary Beth McDonough had been told that she was 'the pretty one'.

While some girls might have taken that as a compliment, it bothered Mary greatly. For a start, it made her hyper-conscious of her looks. We can all see the flaws in ourselves that others pass over. For Mary, those grew into gigantic defects.

Her self-esteem regarding her appearance sank rapidly into the depths, and became deadly.

By the time The Waltons was cancelled, in 1981, Mary was already trying various health and body treatments, in order to boost her physicality. This included everything from diets and fitness regimes, through to the more wacky ideas, like being injected with the urine of pregnant women, in order to lose weight.

Relative to the rest of the younger Walton children, Mary Beth McDonough did quite well in securing film and television roles. They were largely bit parts and sparse in coming.

In addition to reprising Erin Walton in the film sequels, she appeared on screen eleven times during the 1980s, and another eleven in the following decade. But few of those were really parts to write home about.

They certainly weren't paying the bills.  Mary had to supplement her earnings with long stints working as a bar tender or waitress.

Her self-confidence fell even further every time she was recognized.

People would look in shock, asking why she ever had to work again, following a childhood in the public eye.

None of them seemed to believe that The Waltons hadn't paid its child actors enough for them to retire on the proceeds. Their glances seemed to imply that she'd somehow squandered her supposed wealth.

Mary determined that she was never going to secure great roles, unless she physically looked the part.

This was the Dallas and Dynasty age of 'big hair and big boobs'. Mary identified the key actress look as being 'blond and booby', so she had breast implants, in order to compete at the auditions.

Within twenty-four hours, her body was covered in a rash. It was to signal the onset of a decade of ill health. Though she wasn't yet aware of it, her silicone implants were leaking. The end result was to be lupus.

Mary McDonough Films


This 1981 movie saw Mary reasonably highly billed. Her role was Christie Parson, a young woman having nightmares about her father's death. No-one believes that it was murder, until her boyfriend spots the man described from the dreams in real life

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Mary McDonough has a small role in this quasi horror/comedy. She plays Kristin Cumming, an abrasive employee of an amusement park taken over by the Mafia.

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Mary played Karen Reed, a teen love interest, in this tale about a group of teenagers being ripped off by a ski resort owner.

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Heaven Sent

A juvenile delinquent accidentally enters Heaven before his time. He's given three days to return to Earth, clean up his life and save his mother. Mary plays his mother.

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Mary McDonough: Lupus Feature

For most of the first ten years, her condition remained undiagnosed. The symptoms were there, but she had no idea what it was.

Mary McDonough as a Lupus Survivor and Activist

The actress fell back upon her Catholicism - and Buddhist meditation - to find her own inner beauty again. Then she came out fighting.

Image: Mary McDonoughLupus Erythematosus is an auto-immune condition, which affects different parts of the body in quite drastic ways. It's also extremely poorly understood, even by doctors, which is why it took so long to diagnose it in Mary McDonough.

In worse case scenarios, it can be life-threatening. The actress's condition was fortunately discovered before it hit that point.

However, ten years was enough to cause lasting damage to her body, and to continue to affect her life. She married actor Rob Wickstrom in 1988. Those leaking breast implants were still inside her body, while she was pregnant with their daughter Sydnee.

Since birth, Sydnee has suffered from debilitating bouts of vomiting. She also has multiple disabilities and other conditions. It was largely because of this that Mary - once she'd discovered the truth - turned her rage into political activism and law suits.

Her first step was to have the silicone removed from her breasts. To her horror, she learned that the pads had largely disintegrated, but the remainder was taken out. Her own health issues seemed to clear up almost immediately.

The actress then joined a class action suit taken out against Dow, the company behind the breast implants, along with many others in a similar position. Evidence stacked up to prove that Dow had been aware of the health risks, including the danger of developing lupus, but had never communicated that in the public sphere.

Along with her fellow claimants, Mary won her suit. But the compensation merely paid for their health expenses.

Since then, Mary has led the campaign to legally prevent anything like this happening to another person. Her political treks have taken her to Washington DC to canvas politicians. Meanwhile, the actress has used her fame to raise awareness of lupus amongst the general public.

Mary McDonough's Acting Comeback and Surprise Wedding

She continued to act through the intervening decades, but the 21st century has seen some juicier and recurring roles come her way.

The quality of the shows got better. Mary found bit roles in episodes of Ally McBeal, Will and Grace, ER and Boston Legal, before securing steady work as Mrs Wilhoite in The New Adventures of Old Christine. There have also been small movie roles, including Elizabeth in Lake Effects (2012) and Jessica's mother in The Costume Shop (2014).

Her marriage to Rick didn't survive all the ill health. But she found happiness with her second husband, Don Couch. The couple had dated for years before they surprised everyone with the wedding in 2011.

Their friends and family thought they were going to Maggio's Italian Restaurant, in Los Angeles, for a meal to belatedly celebrate Mary's 50th birthday. As soon as they were all settled, Don went down on one knee and proposed.

It wasn't quite as spontaneous as it looked.  Sydnee and Don's daughters arrived in bridesmaid dresses, and the ceremony happened there and then.

Surrounded by family in a fairy tale ending. That's just like Erin Walton would have had it!

Lessons from the Mountain by Mary McDonough

Born into a working class Irish family, Mary went on to become a child star in 'The Waltons'. Read all about those years, and what happened next, in her autobiography.

Whatever Happened to Jim-Bob Walton?

David W. Harper is the most enigmatic of 'The Waltons' child actors. His private life is well guarded, but dark rumors do occasionally surface.

Image: David W Harper as Jim-Bob WaltonBack in 2004, The Waltons fandom was in mourning. David W. Harper was dead, and nobody knew how or why.

Forums were flooded with well wishes and memorial posts, which are still picked and added to by fans late to the news.

However, it was all a big misunderstanding. It wasn't the actor who had died. It was Jim Hamner - brother of author Earl Hamner - the real life prototype for the character of Jim-Bob Walton.

In truth, while fans had been saddened by the (incorrect) rumors of David's untimely demise, no-one had been particularly surprised. The very fact that the one-time child actor protected his privacy so completely seemed to hint at sinister undercurrents.

The persistent rumors that David W. Harper was gay led some to make the sordid assumption that he'd died of AIDS. Despite the fact that the actor has never once been linked amorously with anyone, male, female or any gender in between. 

Others seized upon hints of drug addiction in the past, which had led him to check into a rehabilitation unit. Was it an overdose that had finally seen David W. Harper off? 

Yet no-one mused upon the fact that, in this age of paparazzi and celebrity gossip columnists, not a solitary story or picture of an incapacitated Jim-Bob Walton had ever made it into the press. Wherever those wild parties were taking place, it patently wasn't anywhere near his home in North Hollywood.

Was it suicide then? The word on the street was that in the post-Waltons wastes, devoid of acting opportunities because everyone saw him as Jim-Bob, David W. Harper had suffered some kind of mental breakdown.

Hiding away in a house in Los Angeles, nobody had realized for a long time. Only gradually did it become clear - on account of all of the ex-Waltons actors keeping in contact with each other - that David had become somewhat of a recluse.

In an intervention worthy of a scene from The Waltons, Eric Scott - who'd played big brother Ben Walton - knocked on the door to investigate. He found David in a bad way and found him a therapist, who specialized in sorting out adults who had been famous child actors. A handy occupation in Hollywood.

Once David was back on his feet, Eric arranged for him to get a job at Chase Messengers as a courier.

But did it actually happen?  It's one of those perennial showbiz legends that gets repeated often as fact, but with no primary source confirming nor denying it. Neither David nor Eric have ever gone on record with the story.

It could well just be one of those myths used to fill the gaps, when writers (like me) have nothing else to say. A beautiful tale of peril and redemption that endures because Ben would come to save Jim-Bob.

Ben and Jim-Bob Fight in 'The Waltons'

This is a scene from 'Spring Fever' (1978), where actors Eric Scott and David W. Harper slug it out over the ladies.

What Really Happened to David W. Harper After The Waltons?

He's still alive and kicking, attending 'Waltons' fan events and working as an art dealer in Los Angeles.

Image: David W. HarperDavid W. Harper is purportedly highly amused by reports of his death. He takes them in good spirits, even when his reputation is being dragged through the mud via speculation.

Anyone checking out a reunion or fan event, which brings together the cast of The Waltons, will undoubtedly have noticed that he's very well. He does try to attend as many of those as he can.

Was he ever a recluse?  David is certainly very private, and apparently does occasionally go missing.  Producer and director Mark Murray mentioned that, when he was organizing his own Waltons reunion in 2001.

"They're all in touch with each other although David Harper, who played Jim-Bob, is the black sheep Walton. He's a bit of a recluse and has had various jobs. Sometimes he's hard to track down." 

Those comments came in the wake of an incident, wherein Mark had arranged for fans to tour the set of The Waltons, behind the Warners Studio in Hollywood. David met them there. However, the actor was also supposed to travel with them to a fan convention in Virginia.  He didn't turn up and nobody could get hold of him.

No public explanation was ever given. It might have just been a mix up.

After The Waltons was cancelled, David W. Harper did initially look for more acting work.  He featured in the American Civil War miniseries The Blue and the Grey (1982), then nothing until 1985, when he was cast as a bit part in the Chevy Chase movie Fletch. The following year, there was a small role as 'pay-out guy' in a gangster movie entitled 3:15.

Other than the six Waltons movie sequels, that was it for David W. Harper's acting career.

Instead, he attempted to make a living as a scenic artist, before finding steady work as a Los Angeles art dealer. He's never married.

Whatever Happened to Elizabeth Walton?

Kami Cotler only acts when there's another reunion movie for 'The Waltons'. The rest of the time, she's turned her back firmly upon the showbiz world.

Image: Kami Cotler as Elizabeth WaltonWith much thanks to the lovely Kami Cotler, who read this Wizzley article and commented to correct a handful of details in her biography.

There is something a little bit rock'n'roll about the way Kami Cotler left the set of The Waltons. But that's where it ends.

She was just six years old when the show began. She was only sixteen when it was cancelled. Kami took her wages and plowed a good portion into purchasing a classic Thunderbird car.

Then she used it to drive to Hampshire College, where more savings paid the tuition fees. Kami had decided she didn't want to be an actress.

Fact and fiction blurred beautifully during her college days, when Kami took off around the world. Like the globe-trotter Elizabeth Walton, Kami spent her 'extended summer vacation' wandering around New York and Europe, as the fancy took her. It was her gift to herself after so many years of hard work.

Though there's a school of thought that her greatest personal gift was her husband - Kim Howard - whom she encountered in London, then 'imported... back to the States'.  Then it was back to college and onto her graduation.

While those playing her on-screen siblings were struggling to gain work and fighting depression, Kami was studying for her degree in Social Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. She also gained a teacher credential in English.

Even more Walton-esque was what happened next.  Kami relocated into a rural community within the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  Earl Hamner had grown up not too far away!

That wasn't quite as coincidental as it may appear. Kami Cotler visited the Walton's Mountain Museum there, and fell in love with the area. (The real world filming of The Waltons had taken place on a back-lot in Hollywood. She'd not spent any quality time in the Blue Ridge Mountains before!) Hence Kami began looking for work there.

Kami became a teacher for at-risk High School students and stayed in Nelson County for eight years. Kami and Kim lived on a farm in the mountains. Yet she hadn't turned her back totally on acting. She taught drama in the evenings!

Their son Cotton arrived in 1997, while daughter Callan Freya was born in April 2000. While Kami taught, Kim took the role of a stay-at-home Dad for their kids.

A year later, the family returned to California. Kami had spotted an educational opportunity in the Charter School movement in Inglewood.

Kami Cotler and her Work at the Environmental Charter School

She was on Headline News telling Californians about the educational benefits for their children in enrolling at her school.

For the past decade and a half, Kami Cotler has been an educator - teacher, parent and finally administrator - within the Charter Schools in Los Angeles. 

She helped to establish a K-8 school in West Los Angeles. Before moving to found and direct two middle schools: the Environmental Charter School in Inglewood, and its eponymous counterpart in Gardena. Her daughter and son were enrolled as students in the Middle and High schools respectively.

These are publicly funded, independent learning establishments, wherein teachers and parents fund-raise in order to provide an education for their children. However, tuition is free and anyone, from any background, can enroll. It ensures that no bias will be afforded based on creed, color or socioeconomic factors.

The schools act under an eponymous charter, issued by the Los Angeles education authorities.

Or, as Kami told us herself down below, 'Charter schools in California are funded like any public school and take the same state tests. Our teachers are credentialed and we teach the state standards. Any child can attend and there are no fundraising requirements of families or teachers. It doesn't matter where you live and if more students apply than seats are available, we have a random lottery.'

Naturally, Kami has pulled in her co-stars from The Waltons, whenever a little extra fundraising is necessary. Their presence ensues that the functions are extremely well attended!

Books and DVDs about The Waltons and its Actors

Discover more about the legacy of 'The Waltons', and the lives of its cast both during and after the show.
The Walton Legacy (As seen on public television)

The Stories Behind One of the Most Beloved TV Shows of All Time Meet the creator of The Waltons and the family that inspired the show Catch up with the cast members, including M...

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Goodnight John-Boy

For eight wonderful years The Waltons, the story of a family living in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains during the Depression, entertained America and the world....

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Earl Hamner: From Walton's Mountain to Tomorrow

An authorized biography of prolific author and screen-writer Earl Hamner. Covers his career from earliest newspaper writing, to Hollywood, the Twilight Zone and The Waltons.

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Ike Godsey of Walton's Mountain

The autobiography of Joe Conely, a regular on The Waltons!

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What ever happen to the Waltons?

CONTENTS 1. Introduction 2. Cast of the Walton’s 3. Walton Cast Members 4. Episode of the Waltons 5. Waltons Movie list 6. The Real Waltons ( The Hamner Family) 7. Pictures a...

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Returning to Walton's Mountain: Reminiscing with Mary McDonough (feature article)

Returning to Walton's Mountain: Reminiscing with Mary McDonough (feature article) "The Waltons was an incredible journey, and he created the show that I feel very lucky to be a ..."

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Updated: 04/28/2015, JoHarrington
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D. Day on 07/29/2017

David W. Harper did an interview done by fans on a different site and said that while he likes good art, he is not an art dealer - that is a different David Harper. You can read the interview here: "http://www.rockfish-river.com/en/jim-..."

Shirley on 01/05/2017

Still watching the waltons day in day out..3 times a day sometimes love it..n3v3r get bored with it..

Brian Dixon on 08/17/2015

I’m glad I ran across this page and was even more impressed that Kami found the page and responded with corrections. Thank you Kami and congratulations on your family and career. I was born in 1970 so most of the Walton’s episode’s I saw were in syndication. I did however recently fall from a ladder while working on a barn at my NC home and break my back in several places; (I’m doing great now after surgery). It was during those many weeks when I was confined to bed that I rekindled my love for the show. I was able to watch pretty much back to back episodes and watched six of the nine seasons in succession. Upon recovery I made it a point to complete the final three as I had time. Watching the show during that time was very uplifting and therapeutic. I’m sure over the course of the 40 years since the show first debuted there are many stories of how in one small way or another viewers found comfort and companionship.

JoHarrington on 05/05/2015

HappyNutritionist - A lot of us seem to have been fans at one time or another. It allowed a gentler world, didn't it? Even though it was set against the backdrop of the Depression. I was watching it against the backdrop of the Miners' Strike.

JoHarrington on 05/05/2015

Dustytoes - That's what thrilled me so much too. It's always good to get the facts right, and what better way than for the lady herself to tell you them? The Waltons was a big part of my Sunday mornings as a kid.

happynutritionist on 04/30/2015

Like you, Jo, I was a faithful watcher of the show, it was a favorite of our family. Nice to see the comment from one of the former actresses.

dustytoes on 04/30/2015

I never watched The Waltons, but I see John-Boy on "The Americans" these days. It's awesome that Kami left you that comment to correct things. What better way to get the exact story than from the star herself!

JoHarrington on 04/29/2015

I grew up on the show. It's a fundamental part of my childhood. :)

AngelaJohnson on 04/28/2015

What an in-depth article. I didn't watch all the seasons, but I enjoyed the show.

JoHarrington on 04/28/2015

Hi Kami,

Thank you so much for popping in and correcting the dodgy information. I'm glad that I wasn't too far off the mark. I've been in and amended all that you've highlighted. Please do shout up if it's still not entirely right. Some of my very favorite people have been English teachers.

My apologies for the delay in noticing this comment. I've been moving around myself, so I'm not always online in a timely fashion.

It is lovely of you to have taken the time to help me get this right. I do prefer to only repeat information that I know to be correct, and now we have your biography from the source.


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