‘The Waltons’: Mary Beth McDonough Felt Guilty Over Kami Cotler’s Scary Accident on Set

A warm environment was nurtured on the set of The Waltons where the team treated each other as a family. For children’s actors such as Mary Beth McDonough and Kami Cotler, filming the TV series was sometimes an adventure, even when the cameras weren’t on the go.

One of these incidents resulted in an accident that left McDonough full of a “gray cloud of guilt and shame. ”

The Waltons with Mary Beth McDonough and Kami Cotler
‘The Waltons’ by Mary Beth McDonough as Erin and Kami Cotler as Elizabeth, 1977 | CBS through Getty Images

McDonough, Cotler, and other castmates reviewed the set

Mary Beth McDonough is best known for playing Erin Walton on the famous TV show where Judy Norton and Kami Cotler played her sisters.

McDonough loved her relationship with the two and regarded them as her sisters on and off screen. In her memory, Lessons from the mountain, named Cotler her baby sister and wrote, “I still treat her as one. I was very protective of her from the beginning. ”

She felt the same way about her fictional brothers played by Eric Scott, Jon Walmsley, Richard Thomas, and David Harper. McDonough remembered how she, Scott, and Harper once sculpted on the general store set when filming was over to look around, and tried tobacco.

There was another time when she, Cotler, and Harper went into an area while the rest of the crew was filming elsewhere, and their curiosity took over.

McDonough was ‘horrified’ when Cotler fell from a tree house

McDonough shared a story about how she played Cotler, and Harper played around in the tree house of the set on their own. One day, they climbed up his ladder and through his square floor opened to hang out. McDonough admitted they did not ask for permission and felt strongly that they were wrong.

“Then I heard a scream. Kami had stepped back through the hole in the floor, fallen, and hit her head every inch of the way down, ”McDonough wrote.

“I will never forget the sound of his screams. I was horrified, and I don’t even remember going down on myself. David ran for help, and I did what I could to comfort Kami. She had a lump on her head the size of a lemon, ”she recalled.

Cotler was taken to the hospital and McDonough recounted her feelings of guilt for allowing her little sister to go up to the treehouse. She cried and cried as she felt responsible for Cotler’s safety.

“My gray cloud came over when I was throwing and turning all night, waiting for the penalty,” she wrote. She thought she would be in trouble.

McDonough had trouble dealing

McDonough was relieved when Cotler returned to work the next day in good shape. Her fears about being criticized had no basis, as no one showed up for her. Instead, she made it inside.

“I vowed to follow the rules. I rebuked myself for being miserable and said the rosary. I knew I was bad, and bad things happen to bad people. The fall should have happened to me, ”McDonough wrote.

This was one incident that affected her ability to forgive herself. McDonough concluded that she learned how to work through such beliefs with the help of a physician who taught her how not to judge or punish herself.

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