How ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Karen Grassle Felt About Working with Kevin Costner on ‘Wyatt Earp’

by Samantha Whidden
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She starred alongside Kevin Costner in the 1994 western Wyatt Earp, and in an interview years later, Little House on the Prairie star Karen Grassle opened up about working with the now Yellowstone castmate.  

During a 2001 interview, the Little House on the Prairie star stated that she was Wyatt Earp.

“My part was rather small, but I was happy to have the chance to work with those people,” Grassle recalled. She also described Kevin Costner as very smart and a prince to work alongside. 

Kevin Costner played the title’s character. Grassle was cast as Mrs. Sutherland, who was the mother of Earp’s childhood sweetheart, Urilla Sutherland. Months after moving into their own home, pregnant Urilla passed away after contracting typhoid fever. Following Urilla’s death, Earp became depressed and actually burned their home and possessions to the ground. 

Grassle starred on Little House on the Prairie from 1974 until 1982. She also played in the show’s various TV specials. The actress went on to take on roles in various movies and TV shows, including Murder She Wrote, My Greatest Teacher, Where’s Roman? and Tales of Everyday Magic. She was recently cast in the 2021 feature film Not to Forget as Melody. 

Karen Grassle Opened Up About Playing a Mother to Children on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 

Also during her interview, Karen Grassle discussed what it was like playing the loving mother of so many children on Little House on the Prairie. She acted as the mother of actors/actresses Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, the Greenbush and Turnbaugh twins, Matthew Laborteaux, Jason Bateman, and Missy Francis. 

“I worked most closely with the two Melissas and the Greenbush twins for years before the show added more kids. I loved all of them.” Grassle answered. She also said it was hard watching them have to deal with the situation because as sensitive as Mike Landon and others were to the fact they were kids, they had to produce and they had to produce on cue.

The Little House on the Prairie star then shared, “It was painful to see them go through the stresses that adult actors find challenging. Matt and Patrick’s parents seemed to handle the situation with a lot of grace, and so did Baby Grace’s mother. Hollywood is not a world I would chose for my own child.”

When asked which episode of Little House on the Prairie was her personal favorite, Grassle said, “Country Girls probably, because it was so true to the books and Laura’s memory. It established Caroline’s character from then on.”

In regards to what was the best and worst things about making a television series set in the 19th century, Grassle said the show had a tendency to romanticize that time and way of life. “For women, there was never-ending domestic duty. Of course, we romanticized it on the show and knew we were doing so, because the style was that of a “story”, not real pioneers.”

Outsider.com