‘Little House on the Prairie’: Karen Grassle Had Off-Screen Battle with Michael Landon Over Contract

by Will Shepard

Michael Landon of Little House on the Prairie once had an off-screen feud with Karen Grassle. While this may not seem like that big of a deal, at the time, it meant a lot to Landon and Grassle.

The dispute that the two were having was over Grassle’s contract. For the actress, it was an important negotiation as her career was, as is the case for all actors, hinging on pay. She was arguing that her talent meant that she should be getting more money for the work being done. At the time of negotiations, the show was doing incredibly well.

For those who have watched the iconic series, you’ll know exactly how important Michael Landon and Karen Grassle were. For a while, though, she felt that she was being seriously underpaid. Consequently, Grassle wanted to restructure her contract to reflect her importance to the show.

Even though Karen Grassle knew her importance to Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon felt differently. She wanted more money for playing Caroline Ingallas, but Michael Landon was reportedly not a fan of the idea.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Had a Fervent Debate Over Michael Landon’s Contract

In an interview later on in her career, she talks about how the contract negotiations went. She was never happy with how they went, saying that it was an especially hard time for her.

“[Michael was] prodigiously talented. 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.”

The Little House on the Prairie actress was not finished there. She continued to explain how the dispute was causing a rift in their relationship. She says that she was afraid to really talk to anyone for fear of completely ruining their relationship.

“I didn’t speak up publicly at the time,” she said. “Unless the fact that I continued to negotiate meant that Mike might have said things about me that could have been detrimental.”

Nonetheless, the two Little House on the Prairie actors were able to work out the contract. More importantly, they were able to smooth out their relationship and return to work.