Mary Elizabeth McDonough from “The Waltons” experienced a shift in her acting career after the ’70s show ended. However, this happened due to the health complications she suffered after a plastic surgery procedure.
Hollywood actress Mary Elizabeth McDonough’s childhood years will always be fondly remembered by ’70s TV fans. The actress starred as Erin Walton in the old-time family show, “The Waltons.” Although many may ask, who are “The Waltons?”: they are the fictional family of seven children who lived during the great depression.
Was “The Waltons” Based on a True Story?
Because it was set at the time of the great depression, many might have had the impression it was based on a true story.
However, the show was based on Earl Hammer Jr.’s book, “Spencer’s Mountain” and McDonough’s character was a regular until the show ended in 1981. Here’s what she has been up to since leaving the show.
Life After “The Waltons”
McDonough was on the show for nine seasons and reprised her role as the sweet-faced Erin when it came back for its Christmas installation, “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.”
However, leaving the show changed everything for her. At 24, the child star realized there was a shift in Hollywood’s trend; it was the period of “blonde and boobs.” After so much thought, she believed it was time for her to switch up her brand.
Because many of her colleagues and friends were getting plastic surgeries and boobs augmentation, McDonough felt this was what she needed to rebrand herself as a young adult in the movie industry.
She ultimately opted for breast implants and quickly realized it was not ideal for her. McDonough shared in a Fox News tell-all interview that she felt the adverse effects of the implants a day after her surgery.
She soon developed an unusual rash on her back, and at the time, it was not considered to be caused by her surgery. With time, things escalated, and McDonough was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease.
The now 60-year-old was sick for ten years enduring different health complications. The implants ruptured and disintegrated in her chest and soon, McDonough developed muscle aches and her hair started falling off; it was her worst nightmare come true.
Mary Elizabeth McDonough’s Health Issues
The “A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion” actress chronicled all she endured health-wise in her book, “Lessons From The Mountain.” She shared in her Fox News Interview: “I got so sick over the course of time, not knowing what was wrong with me.”
McDonough did not immediately remove the implants because it was a painstaking decision to have them in the first place. She needed them for her career and did not want to take them out.
The TV actress ultimately removed the implants when she had her daughter and immediately noticed a difference in her health. McDonough shared:
“Once I had my implants removed, I started to get better. My lupus is in remission. I still deal with fibromyalgia and arthritis… But, I’m… healthier.”
McDonough was part of a class-action suit, where she sued her doctor and got medical reimbursement. However, the actress stated that it was nothing compared to the pain she endured for years.
On Body Image Issues and Activism
Her issues with fitting in did not begin at 24. As Erin Walton, McDonough felt the need to be the perfect and pretty one. This led to her feeling insecure about her body and soon developed body image issues.
All these began to ebb after the “Mortuary” actress found strength in her advocacy. She has become an activist for women’s body image issues and has been backing her ideals with actions.
However, the actress has pointed out that her goal was not to dissuade people from getting plastic surgeries but to sensitize them to the potential risks that came with it.
McDonough pointed out that she has never been against implants. However, her intent was to educate people on what to look out for and how to keep up maintenance after getting implants.
Besides advocacy, McDonough has honed her writing talent in years and has several published books. “The Waltons'” ideals inspired McDonough when she put together her fury novel, “One Year.”
The star noted that she always draws her book themes from the TV show that gave her fame. While she keeps churning out books, McDonough enjoys family life with her husband, Don, and their three daughters.