‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Karen Grassle Reveals Brutal New Details About Battle with Alcoholism

by Matthew Memrick
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Karen Grassle’s brutal fight with alcoholism may be a shock to some “Little House on the Prairie” fans.

The 79-year-old, who played mother Caroline Ingalls on the long-running show, talked to People Magazine about her upcoming memoir. The book, titled “Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma,” comes out on Nov. 16.

Grassle opened up her teenage journals to talk about her alcoholic father and her need to drink to cope with him.

Sadly, months after she went into treatment, her father died from the disease. That moment solidified her determination to get away from drinking.

Grassle’s three marriages failed, but she did have one son, Zach Radford with James Allen Radford.

The “Little House on the Prairie” ran nine seasons from 1974 to 1983.

Sobriety Tough For ‘Little House on the Prairie” star

Three years into the show, Grassle was 35 when she decided to stop drinking after two key moments.

The actress organized a luncheon for her “Little House on the Prairie” co-stars and had a glass of wine. While she admitted it was the only time she ever drank at work, the power of the wine grabbed hold of her.

She said she couldn’t stop thinking about that bottle of wine. Attempts to distract herself failed, and she said, “my mind was like ‘Go get that wine.’ It was really humiliating.”  

One week later, Grassle had too much to drink before giving a speech at a feminist conference. The actress recalled talking too long, saying she “was so embarrassed that I had kind of droned on in front of these women that I respected.”

The incident led her to visit an old friend afterward who had recently been to Alcoholics Anonymous. 

Drinking A Tough Habit To Break For “Little House on the Prairie” Star

Grassle admitted she couldn’t see a problem with her drinking but that her friend helped her realize she had a problem. 

Unfortunately, she still couldn’t stop when she returned home from the conference trip. When she got too drunk that night, she argued with a close friend and finished the night crying.

The “Little House on the Prairie” star decided on quitting the next day and admitted that she could not have done it without getting outside help.

Just a few months after starting her treatment, Gene Grassle died of alcoholism.

“I didn’t need anybody to tell me this is a killer disease,” she said. 

Grassle’s father ran a gas station and was ran a real estate business in Berkeley, Calif. Her mother managed a restaurant.

Last year, the actress starred in a film called “Not To Forget.” In it, she played a grandmother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. According to IMDB, her self-centered grandson takes care of her while learning of her wealth and seeks to take it.

Outsider.com