‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Karen Grassle Wasn’t Initially ‘Impressed’ by Her Role

by Joe Rutland
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(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Karen Grassle is recognized around the world for playing Caroline Ingalls on the classic TV show Little House on the Prairie. Grassle played opposite Michael Landon and actress Melissa Gilbert on the NBC family drama. Yet the actress says that she had some misgivings about her role at first. Grassle elaborates on this part of her career as she released a memoir back in 2021.

Karen Grassle of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Looks Back At Taking Role on NBC Show

“When I first read the script, I thought, ‘Oh, she’s kind of a downer. She’s prudish,'” Karen Grassle of Little House on the Prairie said about her role in an interview with Fox News. “As I started doing the role and interacting with the children, I gained a new perspective for my character. She’s a woman who’s so brave and loyal heading into the wilderness with the girls. She wanted to create a better life for them. I began to experience the nobility of the character and what she truly represented.” Her memoir is titled Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections On Life, Loss, and Love From Little House’s Ma.

The Little House on the Prairie actress also admits that working with Landon, who played Charles Ingalls, wasn’t always fun. It did take a turn for the worse after Grassle said she was looking for a raise in the show’s second season. “I made the decision that I would show up to work and do my job every day,” she said. “But it was tough because people knew he was annoyed with me. And he showed it in many ways. So I had to go through that. But I also didn’t want to give up on myself. I worked hard to become the actress I was.”

Actress Did Find Herself Making Up With Landon Before He Died

Landon already had made a name for himself on the small screen with his role on Bonanza. His work as “Little Joe” Cartwright is still beloved by fans who watch that show day after day. Landon, though, could be known for making things tough on others. Grassle would recall, too, when Landon would make inappropriate comments during scenes when both of them were in bed.

Tensions remained high between both actors until Little House on the Prairie star Karen Grassle admits that she made peace with him just before he died in 1991. “We had such a nice conversation,” Grassle said. “We both chose to let bygones be bygones without actually having the conversation. But that meant so much to me. We had such a nice conversation. We both chose to let bygones be bygones without actually having the conversation. But that meant so much to me.”

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