CLOSER TO HOME
Judy Norton takes Closer through her beautiful California mountain retreat.
Judy Norton didn’t plan on her home life imitating art. But she does live in a rustic mountainside retreat, in Glendale, Calif., that’s similar to the Waltons mountain home her character, Mary Ellen, grew up in. “I’ve had a lot of coincidences like that in my life,” Judy, 58, shares with Closer. “When I got cast on The Waltons, I was living on Mary Ellen Avenue — that was a little weird. Then when we first rented in LA, we were living on Waltonia Avenue. I remember thinking, I can’t do this,” she laughs. “And when we were first house-hunting in Glendale, I heard there was a lovely house for sale on Norton…I said, ‘No! I’m not going there!’ ”
Location isn’t the only thing her three-bedroom, three-bath abode has in common with the fictional home from the 1971–’81 series. “I guess you could say we live in nature,” she admits of the place she shares with her publishing exec husband of 14 years, Robert Graves. “We’ve had bobcats,
coyotes, raccoons, skunks, possums and hummingbirds. There is a peacefulness with wildlife on the streets” (and inside, with her cats, Bonchoo and Emilie).
The surrounding nature appealed to Judy and her son from her second marriage, Devin,
20, when they found this house nine years ago. “My son said, ‘We have to buy this house — it has deer!’ ” she recalls. “Our neighbors have a deer family that wanders through their yard, and we’ll see them sleeping on our hillside.”
Judy and Robert decorated the traditional 2,257-square-foot space with lots of wood furnishings, but she sees the decor as more “British West Indies, like you’d find on a safari,” than rural Americana.
As for the home’s layout and size, Judy couldn’t be happier. “We didn’t want a two-story home. When we had a 3,200-square-foot house in Sacramento, we found there were spaces we just didn’t use,” she reveals. “We like cozy and warm — something that really feels like you can live in it. This place ticked all of our boxes.”
And, just like on The Waltons, family chipped in to make it a better place. “My brother-in-law is a contractor, so he updated the master bath,” she shares. “I did all the interior and exterior painting myself. We added some hardwood floors, redid the yard, installed solar panels up the hill to power the house and put in dualpaned windows to make everything more energy-efficient.”
When the actress-singer-screenwriter isn’t away working on a new project, she’s thankful to be in Glendale, especially when Devin comes home from college to visit. “I love the feeling that I don’t live in LA — it’s a beautiful neighborhood,” she shares. “We’re really happy here.”
— Reporting by Steve Gidlow
“I was so nervous to work with Billy Zane, who played the lead in a film I wrote, but he was great and such a pro!” — Judy ,with Billy on the set of Finding Harmony