it's after Valentine's Day, but I thought that
with the holiday in this month, I'd do some
posts about my favorite couples...or at least
couples I have something to say about.
Doctor Curtis Willard and Mary Ellen Walton
from The Waltons
Curt and Mary Ellen's relationship takes place in the
middle of Season 5 of The Waltons, the episode The Wedding.
Their relationship is humorous to see unfold from stubborn,
outspoken first impressions, to mutual admiration and solid love.
Judy Norton Taylor as Mary Ellen Walton
In the first place, as the oldest daughter in the family, Mary Ellen has always
been a stubborn, self-reliant, opinionated, strong-willed, but caring young
lady. She's always had a mind of her own and has been known to often do
as she pleases, regardless of her parents' occasional opposition and or her
grandmother's fiery advice. Her dream has been to become a nurse and help
people. Growing up has softened her in some areas, but her manner can be abrupt
when she feels a situation is ridiculous. Well, she's about to meet her match!
Doctor Curtis Willard is a young, ambitious, capable, hard-working, yet very
outspoken, no-nonsense physician. He cares about his patients but can often be too blunt
and too logical, which doesn't land him in the most likable opinions around
town. He is not a money-grabbing professional and meets his patients in the
financial state they're in and is hoping to improve the world of medicine for both
the people and their doctors. A good doctor needs a good nurse, and well, he's
about to meet one who knows her stuff but is can put him in his place too!
In the beginning of The Wedding, Mary Ellen arrives home late on a date with
studying physician David Spencer, and walks inside to announce to her
parents that they're getting married. John and Olivia are cut off guard, yet
Mary Ellen's unpredictability is not really a surprise to them, so they go
along it. With the older Dr. Vance retired from Walton's Mountain, the
citizens currently don't have a doctor in the community. Well, that's about to
change! On the very afternoon of Mary Ellen's engagement party, in the
middle of the festivities, a blue ambulance pulls up in the Walton's
driveway. Out steps a friendly, handsome, but rugged looking fellow
in jeans and a yellow plaid shirt announcing to the town that he's
their new doctor!
The citizens of Walton's Mountain are a bit wary of this stranger as they don't
know a thing about him, but John-Boy tries to get to know him and develops
a liking and respect for the young doctor. While Mary Ellen is at Ike Godsey's
store, buying thread with her grandma for her wedding dress, Curt walks in
and noticing them, throws her an all too honest comment. Mary Ellen does not
appreciate his opinion of females, and ignores him. But after helping John
Walton harvest some honey, Curt is invited to supper with the Waltons
and offers Mary Ellen a job as his nurse. She is opposed to the idea, but
shows up the next day to claim the position. Curt is surprised and amused
and shows her the alterations he's making to the clinic. Mary Ellen thinks
they are unnecessary, but now that he's boss, what can she say?
His very first patient is Miss Emily Baldwin. They get off to a bad start as
he just tries to do his job, but the Baldwin ladies being very, very
well-respected and old-fashioned ladies, refuse to let him. Mary Ellen
tries to show him how to act around them. Eventually Miss Emily
develops pneumonia, and Curt and Mary Ellen rush her all the
way to the hospital in Charlottesville. She recovers, but Curt as
well as John-Boy are concerned about the long distance from
there to Walton's Mountain that the people have to drive in
emergencies. Curt comes up with the idea to raise money for
a new clinic and better laboratory equipment.
As Mary Ellen works with him, she finds herself growing attracted to
him, though she'll never admit it. As the day of her wedding draws near,
Mary Ellen keeps trying to convince herself that she and David are meant
for each other, and that they'll be happy together. But she secretly has hidden
doubts. Curt likes her and has no problem letting her know. After seeing them
together at a charity fundraiser dance, Erin burns a letter he leaves for Mary Ellen
when he leaves town.
Because the letter is burned, no one in town knows where Dr. Willard is, and
Mary Ellen finds the clinic money missing! Most everyone believes that Curt
skipped out on them, but John-Boy goes to find him and investigate what's
truly going on. It turns out that before coming to Walton's Mountain, Curt
worked in a mine with the miners and then got sued and fired after he
appealed to the company to make the mine a safer place for the
men to work in. John-Boy attends his hearing and puts in a good word for
Despite not knowing the true nature of his absence, Mary Ellen tearfully
breaks off her engagement to David Spencer on the night of their
wedding rehearsal. Everyone has their opinions on the matter, especially
Erin. Curt returns with John-Boy and new medical supplies. He
receives a mixed welcome.
Mary Ellen: "Well, if it isn't Dr. Willard." She says in a not so
friendly tone. "Nice of you to return. Would've been nicer if
you'd let us know you were leaving."
Curt: "Dear, sweet, gentle Mary Ellen." He says sarcastically,
grinning. "It sure is good to see you. And I did let you know."
Curt explains what was in the letter, and Erin confesses that
she burned it after seeing Curt and Mary Ellen kiss at the dance.
Mary Ellen's jaw drops while Curt just stands there, grinning
like a cat in a birdhouse.
Mary Ellen: "It didn't mean a thing!" She protests.
Curt: "Well, I hope it did, Mary Ellen. 'Cause I'm gonna
Mary Ellen: "I suppose you call that a proposal?" She retorts
with her arms folded.
Curt: "It's the best you're gonna get from me." He simply states.
That part always makes me grin.
Mary Ellen: "Well, I wouldn't marry you, Curtis Willard, if you
were the last man on earth."
As you can see, Mary Ellen gave in. They held the wedding ceremony on the
mountain, at the old fireplace grounds where the first Walton homestead began.
Earl Hamner narrating as John-Boy, wraps the episode up well about
Mary Ellen with, "...for those of us who knew and loved her, we'd come to
expect the unexpected." That's for sure!
Curt and Mary Ellen make a funny, both stubborn, but efficient pair
both as doctor and nurse and also husband and wife. You can watch
their working together in the episodes The Cloudburst where Mary Ellen
faints as he performs a tracheotomy on a patient, The Best Christmas when
on Christmas Eve, they are called on to help save the lives of Miss Fanny
and her niece whose car got stuck in the ice, The Ferris Wheel where
Olivia brings little Elizabeth to see Curt to find out why she is having
terrifying nightmares over and over, and there are other episodes also.
The episode The Grandchild in which they have their first baby,
as the delivery time draws near, Curt insists that the baby will be
born at the hospital but Mary Ellen argues that their child will be
born on the mountain. Her emotions grow raw and troubled after
she delivers a still-born baby and the baby's mother, an isolated,
superstitious hill folk scares her with a fable that Mary Ellen's
baby will die. Curt tells her that's just nonsense, but Mary Ellen
can't help feeling spooked and worried. And, the baby, John Curtis
Willard is born on Walton's Mountain, with Curt delivering him!
The WWII episodes show the strained side of Curt and Mary Ellen's
relationship when he is called to duty and she is worn from missing him
and they end up fighting when they see each other because she thinks
he could work harder at trying to see her and their baby, and he insists
that he's gotten free only when his superiors allowed him to.
The episode The Anniversary shows temptation for companionship and
affection for both Curt and Mary Ellen. The distance and long wait between them
is making both of them lonely. While working at the hospital, Mary Ellen runs
into her ex fiancé', David Spencer and they see each other at different
intervals at work. In the meantime, Curt flirts a little with a nurse who is
making eyes at him.
The Walton family is planning a surprise party for John and Olivia's 25th
wedding anniversary. On the big day, the couple goes out together while
Grandpa and the others stay behind. They wait, and wait, and wait for
John and Olivia to come back. They hear a car in the driveway. They
hide and turn out the lights. "SURPRISE" to...Curt! He and Mary Ellen
steal some private time on the front porch where they both confess
where the loneliness has driven them and how they've missed each other.
In the episode The Obsession, while preparing for final studies to become
a registered nurse and join Curt working for the army, Mary Ellen gets
herself into trouble when she gets hooked onto drugs to keep herself stimulated
so she'll pass her exams. It keeps her awake, too much, so much so that she
can't sleep at all during the night, plus she gets short and snappy with
her family. She finally asks for help and Curt arrives in time for her
graduation. She is excited to se him and he tells her he's being
transferred to Pearl Harbor. He feels bad for putting pressure on
her about her exams. "Then you're not disappointed in me?" She asks.
"Disappointed? No. Surprised? Yes." He smiles. "But then, you've done
nothing else but surprise me since we first met." During the graduation
scene, Mary Ellen is the last to receive her white cap. I think it's so
sweet how Curt walks up to the stage and personally places it on
The episode, Day of Infamy as you can tell by the title is a tragic one. December
7th, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Walton family as well as
all of America is glued to the radio, listening about the disaster and awaiting
what dreaded news it will bring. Mary Ellen receives a telegram: Curt was
killed in the devastation!! Wounded himself, he struggled to save other men
and tend the wounded until his time ran out. This episode is so sad. What
follows after this horrible news is a letter that Grandma has been saving
for Mary Ellen. It's a personal message from Curt to his baby son, John
Curtis. It's very touching. I never knew that Curt, the wild, outspoken,
logical doctor could says such beautiful things.
I will never understand why the writers for the show decided to put in the story
what they chose to in the later episode The Tempest. I never want to watch
that one again. It is more painful than Day of Infamy! I wish they'd left
things as they were!
I think that Curt and Mary Ellen are a humorous, witty, intelligent, and
definitely made for each other couple. Mary Ellen can be more gentle
where Curt is too blunt and logical, while on the other hand, Curt is
sensible when Mary Ellen gets demanding. Curt's a good husband
for her. I think that if she'd married David, he would've given her
her way too much. He even said himself in The Obsession when
he reluctantly gave her the pills, "I never could say 'no' to you." If
Curt had been in his shoes, he never would've given in, no matter
how long she might have locked him out of the bedroom! We
see more of Curt's tender bedside manner in The Cloudburst, where
he gently comforts Mary Ellen after she faints during an emergency
procedure. And also in The Grandchild, when John Curtis is born
and the new parents are just as proud as can be. It was also fun and
interesting to see how Mary Ellen helped him try to relate to and
be a little more tactful with his patients after he first arrived at
Walton's Mountain. They were definitely a unique couple, and
I enjoy watching them together on The Waltons.