Monday, March 28, 2011

Lessons From the Mountain by Mary McDonough

Mary McDonough. Lessons From the Mountain. New York: Kensington Books, 2011.

The author, who had the role of Erin on “The Waltons” for its entire nine seasons, states the cast were all close. She was 10 years old when the show began. She later was Mrs. Wilhoite on “The New Adventures of Old Christine”. It was costar Blair Underwood who convicted her to write this book.

As a girl, McDonough wanted to be a dancer. She studied dance, practiced hard, and learned how to dedicate herself towards her goals. She begged her mother to let her go to auditions. Her first auditor was for a TV special “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story”. She received several callbacks and then won the role of Erin. She did not realize when she did her first reading with the rest of the cast that she had the role. The special had a 39 share.

McDonough was going to audition for “The Exorcist”. Her Catholic mother refused to let her audition when she read the book. Today, she is friends with Linda Blair, who got the part.

McDonough’s role as Erin continued when CBS decided to turn the TV special into a series “The Waltons”. She, with as many as 14 textbooks, attended studio school while also filming the series.

McDonough enjoyed filming. She enjoyed seeing the propos and the costumers, so as the actor in a bear suit. She learned a valuable lesson of not eating antique props. She learned to focus on her acting and not to look at the camera.

The author was scared when she to cry.

Costar Will Geer had been blacklisted in the 1950s. Geer taught McDonough to appreciate working on the show. Being on the show was something she’ll cherish.

Costar Ellen Corby taught her to visualize. This helped her acting.

McDonough went on a cruise with costar Judy Norton. She was surprised that people became upset when they learned they were on “The Waltons” and they hadn’t told them. She and Judy Norton never thought they were obligated to tell people that.

The author, at age 10, leared from her 6 year old costar Kami Cotler where babies come from. Cotler had already read a book on the subject and knew the facts.

A wardrobe woman asked McDonough if she had gained weight. This caused her to become worried about weight and to try several diets.

McDonough had good comedic timing. The writers began writing funny scenes for her.

McDonough took Drama as an elective course. Although she was in a TV series, the acting exercises were new to her. She felt insecure acting in front of the class. She came to overcome her fear of failing when acting.

After “The Waltons” was cancelled, McDonough had numerous guest appearances. NBC did three Walton’s Movies of the Week. She had a role on the soap operate “One Life to Live”.

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