[/caption]Join me, Gary Freeman, as we take a trip back to Walton's Mountain with Mary McDonough aka Erin Walton of the 70's TV hit "The Walton's". Mary talks about her book "Lesson's From The Mountain - What I Learned From Erin Walton" with me on "Across America". If you loved Erin Walton, then you will love Mary McDonough just as much as she shares the lesson's she learned from the mountain. Click past the jump to hear this unforgettable interview that teaches and touches the heart.


Mary McDonough is an award winning actor, writer and director. She’s acted since age nine, and has a recurring role on The New Adventures of Old Christine. She’s guest starred on Will and Grace, ER, Boston Legal, the West Wing and dozens of other episodics. In 2007, she starred in the made for television movie, Christmas at Cadillac Jack's.

She wrote and produced the award winning For the Love of May, a film starring Patricia Neal. McDonough has written, produced, and directed award winning-educational films.

McDonough has experience in corporate and charitable organizations. As a Board member of the national nonprofit Young Artists United, she served as Chairman of their National Speakers Bureau from 1986-1991. The Lupus Foundation of America gave her their national award for outstanding service, and the American Heart Association awarded Mary the Les Etoiles De Coeur (Stars of Heart) Award for her participation in their Healthy Heart campaigns.

An outspoken activist, McDonough spent ten years lobbying congress on behalf of women’s health.  After experiencing and overcoming her own health crisis, she began performing hands-on work to help heal others heal their health, spirits and lives. With “can-do” determination, she adheres to an indomitable “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” philosophy.  Utilizing solutions she created to solve issues affecting her own life, she became a certified coach and public speaker. She works with businesses and organizations to help them attain their goals in a more harmonious and effective way.  Her workshop BODY BRANDING, GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH THE SKIN YOU’RE IN, allows Mary to help others with their own personal challenges growing up.

Most gratifying of all is the one-on-one work she does with men and women to deal with and overcome the fears associated with career transition, family dysfunction and eating disorders so they may experience the love, passion and success they so deeply desire.

She was founding director of the fundraising organization, Lupus LA, and currently heads In The Know, to educating women about their own health.

About The Book:

Lessons From the Mountain: What I Learned From Erin Walton (Kensington Publishers, March 29, 2011, $25.00) is actress Mary McDonough’s poignant memoir of growing up on The Waltons, where she played Erin Walton.

At the age of ten, McDonough was cast as Erin Walton in The Homecoming, the movie of the week that inspired the Emmy award-winning dramatic series and overnight, her life as a normal kid in a working-class family changed. She left school, friends and the McDonough family to start a new life of studio classrooms, wardrobe fittings, travel, interviews, photo sessions, and memorizing lines. As McDonough says, “It was bizarre, fun, tremendous, painful, wonderful and different. It was definitely not a normal way to grow up.”

In the book, McDonough shares intimate, behind-the-scenes memories of Will Greer, Richard Thomas, her two “moms,” Patricia Neal and Michael Learned, and all the other Walton cast, crew and guest stars. She discusses what it was like growing up in front of America. In real life she found it difficult to keep friends and as an adolescent she battled depression, insomnia, body image issues and experimented with drugs in an attempt to manage the pressures as she tried to be “Mary-not-Erin” while alternately embracing and rebelling against her good-girl screen persona.

After the series ended, McDonough details how she tried to reinvent herself with artificial help and almost died. Over a period of ten years, McDonough’s health deteriorated and she suffered rashes all over her body, headaches, chronic fatigue, sore joints, and severe allergy attacks. Following the birth of her daughter Sydnee, McDonough’s health went up and down and she had low-grade fevers and flu-like symptoms for years. She developed ulcers, began losing her hair, and developed lumps in her back and leg. Despite the various medications she was taking nothing seemed to help. After seeing doctor after doctor she was correctly diagnosed with Lupus, a connective tissue disease that affects the immune system.

Following her diagnosis, McDonough went on to become Founding President of Lupus LA and has for the more than fourteen years been a citizen activist for women’s health issues. “I know the families – one famous, one real – that I grew up with, the unusual experiences, the good and bad choices made me who I am today. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, not by trying to forget, but by appreciating and learning that I wouldn’t be who I am without my journey over and around that famous mountain,” says McDonough.

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