Karen Grassle said the emotion you saw in the pilot for “Little House on the Prairie” was very real. That’s why she and Michael Landon were so good together as husband and wife.
Grassle was Caroline Ingalls. Landon played her husband, Charles Ingalls. And as the pilot opened, Charles and Caroline packed up their home in Wisconsin and left the familiar for the Kansas prairie. Caroline said good-bye to her parents and pondered whether she’d see them again.
But she assured Charles she was OK with them moving. Karen Grassle recalled that moment in a 1975 interview with Dallas entertainment reporter Bobbie Wygant. Grassle was new to television. She worked as a stage actress. Caroline Ingalls was her first TV role. And the pilot for “Little House on the Prairie,” which was a TV movie, was her first film.
“I was completely new to this world,” Grassle said. “It was a whole new experience for me. I never had the opportunity to act in front of so many people, or meet this many people or have this kind of exposure. It’s fantastic for me.”
Here’s When Karen Grassle Said She Knew It Was Real On Little House on the Prairie
Then Grassle shared the moment she knew the on-screen chemistry she shared with Michael Landon was real and special. It glowed through the small screen.
“The first day, something really happened for us,” Grassle said. “We were on location for the first day. And it was raining and very muddy. And we had a lot of difficulty getting to where we needed to be. We were shooting with umbrellas and carrying on. We got to the end of the little scene and I had just reassured Michael, something (Caroline) says about how she is with her family, she’s not longing for her folks back home.
“And he looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said Caroline Ingalls, I love you. And it just completely broke me up. I was just laughing and crying.
“That’s when I knew we were going to play together,” Grassle said. “We weren’t going to just do lines together, we weren’t just going to be safe. We were going to allow something human to happen between us as people. I was excited. I knew that I could really act here.”
Bobbie Wygant then told Karen Grassle that watching the specific clip made her “misty eyed.”
Grassle said: “When something real happens you hope it communicates, but you can’t be sure it communicates. There was so much love and care every day. And I think it shows. I think that kind of postive energy shows to the public. “
All that love and positive energy allowed Little House on the Prairie to run from 1974-82. Karen Grassle and Michael Landon played TV husband and wife through 1982. Then the two bowed out of the show as it became Little House: New Beginning. That show focused on their daughter, Laura, and her life with husband Almanzo.
Check out Karen Grassle in this video clip: