For nine seasons, Mary McDonough was part of one of the most beloved families in television history. Just ten years-old when she was cast as the pretty, wholesome middle child Erin, Mary grew up on the set of The Waltons,
alternately embracing and rebelling against her good-girl onscreen persona. Now, as the first cast member to write about her experiences on the classic series, she candidly recounts the joys and challenges of growing up Walton…
In this strikingly honest book, McDonough shares the story of her overnight transformation from a normal kid in a working class, Irish Catholic family, to a Hollywood child star. She reveals intimate memories of life in and around that idyllic Virginia farmhouse (really a Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank)—sneaking off to steal candy from Ike Godsey’s store; developing crushes on guest stars; trying to crack up cast members during takes; and most of all, forming a tight-knit second family who played, worked, hugged, and squabbled together.
But in the years that followed the show’s long run, as McDonough tried to reinvent herself, she found herself battling depression and personal insecurities amplified by her celebrity. Gradually she gained the courage to stand up not just for herself, but—in true Waltons tradition—for others, taking on a new role as an activist for women’s body image issues.
Touching, funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always illuminating, Lessons from the Mountain is the story of everything Mary McDonough learned on her journey over—and beyond—that famous mountain.
Advance Praise for Lessons from the Mountain
“I can’t wait to read my Walton sister Mary McDonough’s memoir! Her intelligence, wit and insight guarantee that she will tell her story and ours in a moving and delightful way. Also, her status as a successful child performer qualifies her on the fascinating subject of children in show business.”
“She’s a radiant woman whose truth comes from within…if I had to pick one word that described Mary Beth, it would be resilience.” --Earl Hamner, Creator of The Waltons
“Mary has had the courage to face her fears and pain, and consequently is living a richer, fuller life. That’s Mary, full of life!” --Michael Learned
“Many child star stories are about addiction and run-ins with the law. Here is an inspiring story of a young woman who has chosen to take the high road and turn struggles into triumph. Mary’s spirit shines through in all she does; her commitment to work, friends, and difficult personal issues. Waltons fans will treasure an opportunity to see the woman behind the pretty face of one of their favorite family members, and even non-Waltons watchers will cheer her perseverance.” --Judy Norton
“Mary's story is compelling for many different reasons; she was raised in a very conservative and religious household, and thrust into ‘Hollywood.’ The changes in our society in the 70's were remarkable and Mary went on a personal odyssey and self-discovery that took her through very turbulent times. I have kept in contact with my ‘little sister’ over the years and she always seems to impress me. On a personal side, I like the ‘child stars gone good’ story that so many of us are, and Mary is one of my oldest and dearest friends.” --Eric Scott
"A fascinating look at what it's like to grow up in front of and beyond the cameras." --Eve Plumb
“Somewhere inside that frightened, shy, freckle-faced little girl, who just wanted to please everyone, to just be “good enough,” seethed the heart of brave activist, willing to take on all comers in her fight to save women's lives. Mary starts out writing a heartfelt “love letter” to her Waltons co-stars and fans, (no whining here, there’s not an ungrateful bone in her body!) But no sooner has she finished happily regaling us with her ‘behind the scenes’ Waltons tales, and the moral lessons she took to heart along the way, she reveals the terrifying challenges that forced her to become more “Erin Brockovich” than “Erin Walton”! For someone who started out as a sweet little girl afraid to speak up, it certainly is a pleasure to hear her shout from the top of the mountain now! --Alison Arngrim, New York Times Best Selling Author of "Confessions of A Prairie Bitch"
"Mary is a whole lot more than Erin on The Waltons. This book shows how she's handled all the highs and lows with grace." --George Clooney
Mary McDonough's recent event at Book Soup in Los Angeles, CA, where she was joined by some of her fellow cast members from The Waltons.
The credits for all these photos are:
© Chelsea Claus Photography
1.) Mary McDonough
2.) Mary McDonough with proud TV parents Ralph Waite and Michael Learned
3.) Mary McDonough with TV Parents and Brothers - Jon Walmsley, Michael Learned, Mary McDonough, Ralph Waite, Eric Scott and David Harper.
4.) L-R: David Harper, Jon Walmsley, Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, Mary McDonough, Judy Norton and Eric Scott
5.) The Walton Clan: David Harper, Jon Walmsley, Kami Cotler, Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, Eric Scott, Mary McDonough and Judy Norton
6.) The Walton siblings gather: David Harper, Judy Norton, Jon Walmsley, Mary McDonough, Eric Scott and Kami Cotler
7.) The Walton siblings David Harper, Eric Scott, Judy Norton, Mary McDonough, Kami Cotler and Jon Walmsley
8.) The Walton sister Judy Norton, Mary McDonough and Kami Cotler
9.) Mary McDonough
10.) Mary McDonough
11.) Mary McDonough