HomeAmerican EntertainmentTVClassic TV‘Little House on the Prairie’: Karen Grassle Says She Once Considered Herself a ‘High-Functioning’ Alcoholic

‘Little House on the Prairie’: Karen Grassle Says She Once Considered Herself a ‘High-Functioning’ Alcoholic

by Shelby Scott
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(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Actress Karen Grassle held the role of one of “Little House on the Prairie’s” most loyal and truthful characters in the classic TV series. Grassle starred as Caroline “Ma” Ingalls for nine seasons during the show’s airing between 1974 and 1982. And while we’ve come to adore her character in all her virtuousness, even Ma once had her demons. While previously speaking about her new book, Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma, which debuted in November of last year, Karen Grassle revealed she had once been a “high-functioning” alcoholic.

Karen Grassle Details Her Battle Outside of ‘Little House on the Prairie’

“Little House on the Prairie” fans grew to adore Ma Ingalls for many reasons. She was a dedicated wife and an intensely loving mother. When needed, Ma wasn’t afraid to pick up the laborious work so often done by the men of the house. But while she put on a virtuous face while filming, Fox News shared she was once dependent upon alcohol.

“I got up every day with a terrible hangover,” Karen Grassle explained. “I went to work, I pulled myself together, I worked hard and I concentrated all day long.”

She explained in writing her book that because she managed to go to work each day and kept her job, “I thought I was under control.”

The “Little House on the Prairie” star admitted, “when they said, ‘That’s a wrap,’ I either took a drink from the prop table or had one when I got home and started again.”

In creating the illusion that she was “under control,” she said, “It gave me even more rationale for continuing the way I was.”

Caroline ‘Ma’ Ingalls Actress Becomes Sober

Alcoholism is no easy battle, however, after detailing her personal struggle with the addiction, Karen Grassle shared she got sober in June of 1977. So, if we consider the dates through which the actress occupied the role of Caroline Ingalls, that outs our “Little House on the Prairie” lead about three seasons into filming.

Of the experience, the Caroline Ingalls actress said, “It’s so meaningful because everything changes from that day.”

After detailing her experience as a “high-functioning” alcoholic, we can only imagine the ways in which Grassle’s life transitioned moving forward. Instead of looking forward to an end-of-shift drink, she was free to pursue further hobbies and interests outside of work.

In pursuing her sobriety, she revealed, “I looked at life in an entirely new way,” perhaps more so through the eyes of the character that seemed to view each positive experience and emotion as a gift within the landscape of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Overall, she concluded, “I was able to truly discover who I was and what I wanted in life. And boy, it was a lot of work. And it was all worth it.”

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