IN 1984, A YEAR AFTER THE WALTONS went off the air, Eric Scott, who had played Ben Walton (child No. 5) for 10 years, returned to Lorimar's Culver City studios carrying an envelope. Hoping no one would recognize him, Scott hurried past a prominently displayed photo of The Waltons cast and handed the envelope, containing airline tickets, to one of Lorimar's head honchos. At 25, the former child star was working for Chase Couriers as a deliveryman. "That was a tough one to swallow," he says.

Today, Scott, 33, still hasn't matched the top salary of $250,000 he earned as a Walton, but after steady promotions, he's got a title—vice president of marketing—on the door of his corner office in North Hollywood. Scott is happily ensconced in a three-bedroom home in Ventura County, north of L.A., with second wife Theresa, a nurse (they plan to have children). "I can't recapture what I had," he says. "[But] as long as I feel good about what I'm doing every year, I'm proud of it."

Not that he didn't peer over the precipice. When the series ended, he could find only occasional acting work, and depression set in. His first marriage, to Karey Louis, an aspiring actress, whom he'd married at 21, unraveled. He spent about a year mooning around his house, eating and watching Bonanza reruns. "When I knew Hoss' lines better than he did," he says, "I decided it was time to do something."

He combed the classifieds and answered an ad, WANTED: DRIVERS, thinking it would be just a temporary job. "But he began moving up [at Chase], and I think he liked being normal," says Theresa, whom he first met in high school physiology class and remet five years ago at a dinner party. "He wasn't going to let himself become a wannabe actor."

Though Scott still keeps in touch with some of his TV siblings, including Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy, he's packed most of his Waltons memorabilia away. "I don't confuse [that life]," he says, "with what's important to me as a person."