Mary McDonough was born into an Irish Catholic family. Her parents, Larry and Betty McDonough wanted to ensure their children received Catholic educations and chose to send them to Chaminade. Already pursuing an acting career, Mary did not attend classes full time but still maximized her high school experience. She was on the volleyball team and cheearleading squad. She says that Brother McCall was an inspiration for her, always challenging and encouraging her, especially in English and writing classes. Mary also received guidance and encouragement from Mrs. Rohde and Mr. Charlie Horkan.
Mary’s acting career took off at the age of 10 when she was cast as Erin on The Waltons. The Waltons was created by Earl Hamner Jr. and tells the story of a Depression-era family in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains from the point of view of eldest son John Boy. Erin was the second Walton daughter and was played by Mary in all 213 episodes and six Waltons reunion movies.
Continuing her acting career into adulthood, Mary has appeared on 30 television shows, including ER, The West Wing, Boston Legal, Will & Grace, and The New Adventures of Old Christine. She has also had roles in 13 films, most recently Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane, a Hallmark adaptation of her novel of the same name.
Mary has utilized her communication skills as a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. She is an award-winning director, writer and producer for issues-oriented educational film making, teaching and political advocacy. An outspoken activist, Mary spent fifteen years lobbying congress on behalf of women’s health. After experiencing a health crisis, she began working to help others heal their bodies and spirits. Helping others was not just a career choice, but ultimately, a calling. Mary was awarded by the American Heart Association and the Lupus Foundation of America for her non-profit work. She is also the founding director of Lupus LA, a foundation dedicated to finding a cure for lupus.
Perhaps the result of the many years she spent working in and successfully navigating her place in a difficult and highly visible industry, it seemed natural for Mary to connect and guide others. Thus, her work as a Life Coach began. A public speaker and workshop leader, she works with children, organizations and corporations.
Mary has written three books: one memoir and two novels. She shares the story of her transformation from normal kid to Hollywood child star in Lessons from The Mountain. Her novels One Year (2014) and Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane (2016) follow the challenges of two families in the fictional town of Oliver’s Well, Virginia. Hallmark adapted Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane into a film in 2018.