Leslie Winston and Eric Scott developed a special bond beyond The Waltons
The actors playing Ben and Cindy Walton both happily married but still became inseparable.
One of the earliest appearances of Cindy Brunson Walton comes in one of the most emotional episodes of The Waltons, an episode called "Founders’ Day."
Fans will tell you that the final two minutes of this particular episode include some of the best Waltons scenes ever shot.
For actor Leslie Winston, joining The Waltons cast for the last three years of the series gave her just enough time to bond with the cast and become herself a memorable part of the show’s enduring legacy.
In 2009, Winston told the Globe-Gazette that being on The Waltons was "an absolutely sensational experience for me."
She had very little acting experience prior to joining the cast, rising up in drama school at UCLA and getting cast in a movie just one semester shy of graduating.
The movie led to a casting in a late-night TV revival of Peyton’s Place, and then to her role as Cindy, who over 42 episodes becomes the wife of Ben Walton.
Winston said the whole cast was like a giant family and after the show ended, she kept in touch with all the actors who played Walton children.
But her bond with the actor who played her TV husband, Eric Scott, was perhaps the strongest.
Scott was happily married to actor Karey Louis Scott, and Winston was happily married to a TV writer named Bob Yannetti, and the two couples became such good friends, they were inseparable, always coming together through life’s major moments.
In fact, when Winston married Yannetti in the early 1980s, they were greeted when the plane touched down in Hawaii for their honeymoon by Eric and Karey.
"Eric and Karey joined us on our honeymoon in Hawaii," Winston told the Post-Gazette during a group interview with both couples in 1982. "Remember, you guys met us at the plane with flowers, wearing matching Hawaiian outfits."
Eric and Karey were so much part of Winston’s family that when her father turned 50, Winston surprised her dad by flying out to Iowa, bringing along both her real and TV husband, and her TV husband’s wife, the group seemingly becoming a package deal.
Her dad was pleasantly surprised to see the whole crew there.
"He about had a heart attack when he saw us," Winston said.
After The Waltons ended, Winston appeared in The Waltons reunion TV movies as Cindy, then pursued other TV appearances.
"It was good that I didn’t have a really prominent part," Winston said. "It helps now because people in the industry don’t see me as just Cindy Walton. And The Waltons was a very respected show. That helps, too."
Just when she felt she had gathered some momentum landing roles on hit productions, though, she had a tragic fall and shattered her elbow, putting her out of commission for a year.
After a year passed, Winston felt like it was hard to bounce back in Hollywood, with few desirable parts being offered.
She and her real husband Bob decided perhaps that meant that it was finally time to start a family.
Becoming mother to two daughters, Winston decided to pivot her career from acting to behind-the-scenes work.
She started doing "looping" work, an audio role doing post-production on hit TV shows like Ally McBeal and Boston Legal.
She said she liked looping because she never had to waste time auditioning for a gig she didn’t get, and that meant she had more time to do stuff with her daughters, like being their Brownie troop leader.
"I have been very, very fortunate," Winston said of her career.
While she was on The Waltons, Winston recalled how she felt that the dinner table scenes "were nightmares for the directors" because there were so many actors to keep track of.
She liked that her role was a quiet part of the Walton family, and because she played Cindy, for the rest of her life, she kept in touch with her Waltons castmates, attending their weddings, and all their kids’ baptisms and bar mitzvahs.
Though she joined the cast late, she always felt she had a warm and welcome place among them.
"The whole bunch of us are really close," Winston said.