‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actor Explained How ‘There Was Real Chemistry’ Between Charles and Ma Ingalls

by Anna Dunn

Little House on the Prairie actress Karen Grassle once spoke about the “real chemistry” between Charles and Ma Ingalls. In a recent interview, she talked about working with Michael Landon and the chemistry they fostered between their characters.

“There was real chemistry between Caroline and Charles,” she said. “People came up to me and said it all the time.”

For Grassle, the two needed to be portrayed as a real couple. They couldn’t act like two people who happened to have kids together.

“When I really saw [the chemistry] is when we went and got in that sleeping bag, and I had on my nightgown, but my arms are bare. My goodness! Bare arms! What a sight. When you’re used to seeing everything long-sleeved and ankles covered and now all of the sudden it was like oh… [this is a] different part of their relationship.”

In fact, the relationship between Charles and Caroline was so “perfect” that many real-life mothers would tell Grassle how they could never compete. Grassle would say that while she was a fantastic mother on screen, she always gave the kids back to their parents in the actual real world at the end of the day.

Karen Grassle Loved Working with ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Co-Star Despite Rough Patches

In one of her first interviews about Little House on the Prairie, Grassle sang nothing but praises for Michael Landon, who produced, directed, wrote for, and starred in the show. In fact, she immediately knew how much potential there was for the two actors.

“He gives so much that I just felt I could do my work, and I could hook in,” she said of Michael Landon.

But things weren’t always easy between the two. While Grassle loved acting with Landon, life was more complex behind the scenes. Grassle recently admitted that conflict arose around pay.

“He was prodigiously talented,” Grassle said, “A complicated character from a dysfunctional family who loved his crew. But when the show was in the top 10, and I said, ‘Gee, it is time to renegotiate my contract,’ Michael did not want to pay me. It was very difficult.”

While the dispute put a definite strain on their relationship, the two smoothed things out and had time for healing.

If you watch Little House on The Prairie, you’d never guess they had an off-screen conflict. The chemistry between their characters always came through. For them, the show came first, no matter what was going on behind the scenes.