‘Little House on the Prairie’: Caroline Ingalls Actress Karen Grassle Revealed Actor She Was Closest to On Set

by Joe Rutland

Karen Grassle found herself on the “Little House on the Prairie” set feeling closest to one of the show’s actors. It’s not who you think.

While the initial guess would be Michael Landon, it actually was Karl Swenson, who played Lars Henson on the show. Grassle played Caroline Ingalls, wife of Charles Ingalls (Landon’s character), on the long-running NBC drama series.

“He was an exceptionally smart man,” Grassle said in a 2014 interview with Entertainment Weekly, “and I always loved it when he came on set.

Grassle Didn’t Fit Into ‘Old-Boys’-Club’ On Show’s Set

“There was a lot of old-boys’-club stuff going on,” she said. “Every Monday it was like, ‘How about those Rams?’ That wasn’t my scene.”

Sadly, Swenson died of a heart attack on Oct. 8, 1978, in Torrington, Conn. It was just after he’d filmed a “Little House on the Prairie” episode, which aired on Oct. 16, 1978.

Grassle appeared in 182 episodes of the NBC show from 1974-82. She reprised her Caroline Ingalls role for the 1984 TV movie, “Little House: The Last Farewell.”

After leaving TV regular-series life, Grassle turned her attention toward the theater as both a performer and director.

Karen Grassle Felt ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Would Be Iconic

Entering into the TV show, Grassle held a belief that the show would be one that stood out for NBC.

During an interview with Barnaby Marriott, Grassle said she knew the beloved series would be as iconic today as it was when it first began.

“I did know it would be a ‘hit,'” Grassle said in a 2001 interview. “Eight years I did not imagine. It was hard for me to stay in one place and do one character year after year.

“I have a somewhat restless nature,” she said. “I’m terribly grateful for the continuity and security that it has provided, and the freedom I have to do interesting and creative work now.”