Kami Cotler Played Elizabeth on "The Waltons." See Her Now at 56.
The former child star retired from acting, but she'd play Elizabeth again if asked.
John-Boy might be the most frequently remembered child of the Walton family—especially thanks to the catchphrase "Goodnight, John-Boy"—but today, we're checking in on the youngest Walton. Kami Cotler played Elizabeth on The Waltons throughout the entire series, from 1972 to 1981, and also appeared in the original TV movie and the six reunion movies. But, unlike some of her co-stars, Cotler did not continue acting outside of her work with the series. Instead, the now-56-year-old became an educator and has worked as both a teacher and a principal. Read on to find out about Cotler's life after The Waltons and how she moved from being a child star to a children's educator.
Elizabeth was one of her only acting roles.
Cotler was only six when the movie The Waltons is based on, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, was released. After that, she appeared in the short-lived series Me and the Chimp and the TV movie The Heist, before The Waltons began airing. From that point on, Cotler has only played Elizabeth Walton, including in the reunion movies, the most recent of which was in 1997.
After The Waltons ended, Cotler auditioned for some roles, but knew she really wanted to go to college instead. "As I began auditioning, I realized that it wasn't as enjoyable as working!" she told VisionTV in 2017. "There wasn't much time between when the show ended and I started university. But, most of the things I auditioned for were not well written and I wasn't terribly eager to get those jobs."
She became an educator.
Cotler got into education after college and has been a teacher and a principal. She even helped to get an institution called Environmental Charter Middle School off the ground.
"I was the founding principal for four years and now I have a four-day-of-week position there. We have three schools now, it's great," she told Cinephiled in 2015. According to the school's website, she is now the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Environmental Charter Schools.
She would return to acting for another Waltons movie.
Cotler was asked by Cinephiled if there's a chance of another reunion movie. "I'd definitely do it—it would be a lot of fun to work with everybody again," she answered. "The industry is so fragmented now that I think you can do niche programming. I'm not sure CBS would do it, though. The first few movies were done right after we were cancelled so those had a lot more continuity. But the other ones were done much later when I was an adult. That was a good experience because it made it really clear to me that this was not the field that I wanted to be in!"
She reflects on the show on her YouTube channel.
Cotler has a YouTube channel on which she posts reaction videos of herself watching The Waltons and shares behind-the-scenes information. So far, she has posted eight videos about "The Foundling," which is the first episode of the series.
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She's still close with the cast.
Cotler remains in touch and close with her Waltons co-stars, which isn't something that always happens for TV casts.
"For us it's normal," she told Cinephiled. "I don't think I even realized how strange it was until we were doing one of the reunion movies when I was an adult and some of the makeup people said, 'Wow, you guys really like each other?' They had done reunion shows where that was definitely not the case!"
In the VisionTV interview, Cotler said of the cast, "They are a second family. We see each other for family events, like Bar Mitzvahs, or weddings, or funerals. Whenever we get together it's like a family reunion."