‘Little House on the Prairie’: Karen Grassle Revealed What it Was Like Working with Actors Behind the Olesons

by Joe Rutland
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One of the fun interactions “Little House on the Prairie” fans watched took place between the Ingalls and Oleson families.

They had interesting moments thanks to fights usually started by the Oleson’s pesky, naughty daughter Nellie, played by Allison Arngrim. For the Ingalls, dust-ups also involved sweet, innocent Laura Ingalls, played by Melissa Gilbert.

What about Ma Ingalls? Well, actress Karen Grassle, who played matriarch Caroline Ingalls opposite patriarch Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon), spoke about working with all of the Oleson actors.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Shared Fond Memories of Cast Members

Her replies appeared in a 2001 article for Zunshine.com. While we mentioned Arngrim earlier, let’s also recognize “Little House on the Prairie” stars Richard Bull, who played Nels Oleson, and Katherine MacGregor, who played Harriet Oleson. MacGregor had a nickname that Grassle uses here, “Scottie.”

“Dick Bull was such a fine professional,” Grassle said. “I loved working with him. He and his wife used to go to England every year to go to the theatre, and he would tell me about it.”

About MacGregor, Grassle said, “Scotty MacGregor was a good pal, very kind and supportive when my father died, suddenly. She also introduced me to my new dog, when my old dog had died.”

Then what about “Little House on the Prairie” resident troublemaker (in character) Arngrim?

“Alison began to shine as she hit her teen years,” Grassle said. “She wore wonderfully campy 50s outfits and, when she could drive, got a funny 50s car.”

Family Drama, Boosted by Landon’s Creative Energy, Remains On TV in Syndication

The hour-long family drama is still on TV, thanks to the miracle of syndication. “Little House on the Prairie” ran on NBC for nine seasons between 1974-82. Landon oversaw much of the show’s production and scripts, bringing his creative energy from “Bonanza” into this new show.

Grassle would play Caroline Ingalls for eight of those seasons, along with one TV movie after the show left NBC’s primetime schedule.

In another interview, Grassle talked about not really staying in touch with other members of the cast.

She spoke about her experience in a 2004 interview on “Dave’s Gone By”.

Grassle said that she was a resident in another state from California for 10 years. During that time, she said that she lost touch with people on the show.

“Occasionally, I would luck out,” she said. “Someone like Dabbs Grier [Reverend Robert Alden] would come through the town where I was living and shoot a movie or something.”

Grassle admitted that she was able to introduce Grier to her at-the-time little daughter. She also said that there were times she and actor Kevin Hagan, who played Doc Baker, would chat on the phone.

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