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The Twins Who Played The First Waltons’ Grandchild

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On the American historical drama television series cast were two twins who played the first Walton grandchild. This character was born during the sixth season of the television seriesThe Waltons.

Baby John Curtis was born to Mary Ellen, one of the Walton daughters, and he was portrayed by two actors, a set of baby twins, to be exact. Baby John’s character was very impressive that a critic deemed the young stars as “the perfect child.”

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Two identical twins played baby John Curtis

THE WALTONS, Kami Cotler, David W.Harper, Eric Scott, Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, Mary Beth McDonough, etc, 1972-82.

Baby John Curtis was portrayed by the identical young twins, Michael, and Mashall Reed. They appeared in more than fifty episodes between 1978 and 1980. According to Judy Norton, The Waltons star, the twins were not acting but only responding to the energy they received from the actors. “At that age, they’re not acting. Everything you see from the toddler that age is responding to the actual energy that they are getting off the actors they’re working with.”

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RELATED: ‘The Waltons’ Reunited Judy Norton With Her First On-Screen Mother

In her YouTube series, “Behind the Scenes with Judy Norton”, Judy shared that she loved seeing different family members interact with the baby boys. She also added that working with the twins was extra work as the babies sometimes acted unpredictably.

The practice of casting identical twins to portray children’s characters on TV has been around for decades. In the series, I Love Lucy, the show hired a set of twins to portray the young Ricardo character. Two sets of twins were hired to portray characters on Little House on the Prairie and Full House

THE WALTONS, clockwise from top left: Judy Norton-Taylor, Jon Walmsley, David Harper, Kami Cotler, 1972-81.

This practice was initially born out of the need to comply with the child labor laws, which stated that children are only allowed to work a few hours of work each week. Hence, using a set of twins allowed them to film more scenes each week.

Why Was the Waltons’ Series Cancelled?

The television series was eventually canceled as many actors had moved on to other projects among other reasons. Many of the cast were also getting older. The series was canceled in June 1981, after nine seasons and 221 episodes. After the show’s cancellation, NBC aired three sequels in 1982 and three more in 1993, 1995, and 1997.

According to Judy Norton, the actors found out that the series would not be renewed after the ninth season, right before they were supposed to start the tenth season. “We found out that the show was not being renewed after season 9 and before we were going to start season 10. I think a lot of us sort of felt like the show was coming to an end.”

THE WALTONS, top from left: John Walmsley, Judy Norton-Taylor, Richard Thomas, bottom from left: Will Geer, Ellen Corby, Eric Scott, David Harper, 1972-81

She also mentioned that many of the cast heard about the series’ cancellation from the news, friends, or family members, as the superiors did not communicate the issue properly to the cast members. Judy said, “I heard about it through the grapevine. Nobody called and said the show hadn’t been picked up. I think someone called and told me they heard it on the news.”

On March 24, 2016, Earl Hamner, the Waltons creator, passed away at age 92 after a battle with cancer.

RELATED: ‘The Waltons’ Cast Then And Now 2022

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