By MIKE CHAIKEN
“The Waltons” was an iconic television show about a family growing up in Depression-era Virginia.
For many people, actress Mary McDonough will forever be ingrained in their mind as the middle daughter Erin.
But decades have passed since that show went off the air, (the last “reunion” movie came out in 1997) and although “The Waltons” continues to be close to her heart (she wrote the memoir “Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton” about her experiences on the long-running television series), McDonough has had a full-life since the show.
She wrote and directed the award winning film “For the Love of May.” She continues to act on stage and screen. She is the author of the novel “One Year” and “The House on Honeysuckle Lane.” She also has been a health advocate as the founding president of LUPUS LA, and creator of InTheKnow, which raises awareness about women’s health issue.”
She is coming to Connecticut on Oct. 14 for “A Canton Conversation with Mary McDonough,” which will be conducted by Larry Dasilva, host of Nutmeg TV’s “Studio 411.”
Writing novels is McDonough’s current focus (she’s working on a new unnamed piece that she said might evolve into three novellas.)
Although her earlier years were known for her acting gigs, McDonough—calling from Denver—said her first love was always was weaving sentences together.
“I’ve always written,” said McDonough. She said she wrote poetry as far back as age 8. And she always kept a journal.
“I’ve always loved writing,” said McDonough. “English was my favorite subject. I was a big reader.”
After she left “The Walton,” although she continued to act, she also wrote screenplays and scripts for industrial films and education projects.
For novels, McDonough said, she prefers to draw from real life and prefers pieces that are more women-centric.
“I write about what I know,” said McDonough. “I write about family and people.” said McDonough.
In addition to her continuing endeavors in the arts, McDonough has stepped forward as a health advocate for women.
McDonough is the creator of In the Know, an organization intended to raise awareness about women’s health interests. She became involved when she was diagnosed with lupus, likely caused by a leaky silicone breast implant, she said. She went to Washington D.C. to take a lead on the discussion about the health impact of leaking breast implants.
“It was an incredible experience to find my own voice, going to Washington (as an advocate),” said McDonough. Her efforts in relation to her own lupus led her to create LUPUS LA.
McDonough is quite willing to speak about her time on “The Waltons.” Her years on the show was “an amazing experience,” much of which is shared in her memoir, “Lessons from the Mountain: What I learned from Erin Walton.”
McDonough said she built many friendships from the show. For instance, Ellen Corby (who played Grandma Walton) helped her with her scripts. Will Geer (Grandpa Walton) was a “wonderful kooky person” and an amateur botanist who taught her about plants. She also spoke fondly of Richard Thomas (who played John-Boy), Ralph Waite (who played the father), and Michael Learned (who played the mother).
“It become a real family,” said McDonough. “We’re still close.”
“I’m so looking forward to my trip (to Connecticut) and doing this,” said McDonough of the upcoming “A Canton Conversation.”
“It’s very fancentric,” said McDonough of the Oct 14 event.
She said she likes opportunities where she can intermingle with the fans and engage in a vigorous question and answer session with them. “People have so many interesting questions,” said McDonough.
“A Canton Conversation with Mary McDonough” will be held, Saturday, Oct. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Canton Town Hall Auditorium, 4 Market St., Collinsville.
Advance tickets are $30 by calling the box office at (860)751-4924, 4 to 10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends. Tickets are $35 the day of the event. The event is produced by Stars & LegendsCT Productions There will be a meet and greet with McDonough and books/photos/posters available for purchase and autographing after the program.