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See What Erin From "The Waltons" Looks Like Now at 60

Mary Elizabeth McDonough has had a varied career in the time since the beloved series ended.

Throughout the 1970s, The Waltons was one of the most popular TV shows on the air. The series follows the Walton family as they live on their Virginia farm from the Great Depression up to World War II. It features an ensemble cast playing the many members of the family, and they've all gone different ways in their lives and careers since the show ended in 1981. Today, we're checking in on Mary Elizabeth McDonough, who played the second oldest daughter of the Walton family, Erin.

McDonough starred on The Waltons throughout its entire run—1972 to 1981—and also appeared in all six of the movie sequels. McDonough continued acting after appearing on the classic series and also took on a new career as a writer. Read on to find out more about McDonough's life today.

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She's still close with her castmates.

Kami Cotler, Mary McDonough, Michael Learned, Lisa Harrison, Jon Walmsley, and Judy Norton attend the "In the Know" Facts about Cosmetic Surgery Risks media conference in 2003
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Waltons had a big cast, and McDonough has shared that they've all remained friends. In a 2014 interview with Hallmark Channel, she said, "We're still so close. We all are together all the time. We celebrate birthdays. And, unfortunately, every once in a while a death, we'll lose someone. We had dinner at Michael Learned's house a couple weeks ago. Mama. Mama had us all for dinner."

She kept acting after The Waltons.

Mary McDonough at the 40th Anniversary of "The Waltons" Reunion in 2012
Kathy Hutchins /

McDonough spent nearly 10 years on The Waltons and was 20 years old when the show concluded. After it ended, she continued acting in movies and on TV. She has appeared in small parts on a number of popular series, including The Love Boat, ER, Ally McBeal, The West Wing, Will & Grace, and many more. She also had a recurring role on The New Adventures of Old Christine.

She became a writer too.

Mary McDonough at Book Soup in April 2011
Brian Putnam/FilmMagic via Getty Images

In addition to being an actor, McDonough is also a published author of three books. In 2016, she published the novel One Year about three generations of Irish-American women. The following year, Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane was published. In 2018, the holiday-themed novel was adapted into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, and McDonough appeared in a supporting role. Lastly, in 2011, she wrote the memoir Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton.

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She's also a life coach.

McDonough is a certified life coach, which is something she was inspired to do after struggling with self-esteem issues during the time she was filming The Waltons. "I developed all kinds of insecurities and eventually developed into an eating issue, a food issue, and body image issues," she said in the Hallmark Channel interview. "Erin was supposed to be the 'pretty one' and so I always felt this pressure to be pretty."

In an interview with Smashing Interviews in 2011, she also spoke about helping others through being a life coach and public speaker. "I'm a public speaker and I lead workshops," she said. "One is called Body Branding, Getting Comfortable with the Skin You're in. I speak to young girls, women, and even men. I'm finding a lot of men are writing me about the perfection issues and how [Lessons from the Mountain] relates to them as well. I lead the workshops and I talk about it and address girl's groups and just try to help people to be not as frightened and scared as I was. I'm also a coach so I work with people one on one as well."

She's been open about an ongoing health issue.

Mary McDonough at the 2013 Daytime Creative Emmys
Kathy Hutchins /

McDonough has lupus and believes that getting silicone breast implants was the cause. "There are people that will say I'm crazy, but since the manufacturers still have not come up with their long-term data I think it's highly suspect," she told Smashing Interviews. Her website explains that she is an activist when it comes to making people aware of the risks involved with breast implants and has lobbied congress and met with the FDA.

She's been married twice and has a daughter.

McDonough has been married twice and has a 29-year-old daughter, Sydnee Wickstrom, with her first husband. McDonough sometimes shares moments from her family life on Instagram, including a photo of Sydnee when she was a child and pictures from date nights with her husband. She's also posted about reuniting with her co-stars from The Waltons.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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