‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why One Lead Actress Was Known as ‘Miracle Baby’ in Her Family

by Keeli Parkey
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Above all else, “Little House on the Prairie” is a television show about family. It’s about parents raising their children in a place and time that is very far removed from our world today. Even so, it’s interesting that one of its lead actresses came from parents who struggled to start their family.

The actress we are talking about is Karen Grassle. She famously played Caroline Ingalls, the wife of Michael Landon’s Charles Ingalls on the famous television show. “Little House on the Prairie” is a show about a farming family living in the American midwest during the 19th century.

According to information on the actress’s IMDb.com page, Grassle was born in Berkeley, California, on Feb. 25, 1942. Her given name was Karen Trust Grassle. What makes her birth interesting is that she was the first child born to her parents after four miscarriages. It was this factor that led her family to refer to her as a “miracle baby.” Clearly, the designation is well-deserved.

IMDb.com also reports that Grassle was born to a father who operated a gas station. His mother reportedly ran a restaurant.

“Little House on the Prairie” originally aired from 1974 until 1983. It remains a beloved television show to this day.

Here Are a Few More Things You Might Not Know About ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Karen Grassle

In addition to being a “miracle baby” and playing Caroline Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie,” actress Karen Grassle did several other interesting things during her life.

One of the more interesting things Grassle did during her lifetime involved the name she chose for her professional career. According to IMDb.com, she used the name Kay Dillinger during the late 1960s. She reportedly claimed to the child of John Dillinger. He was a legendary bank robber who committed his crimes during the 1930s. However, John Dillinger died a decade before Karen Grassle, a.k.a. Kay Dillinger was born.

This wasn’t the only name Grassle used during her professional career.

In 1973 Grassle traveled to Los Angeles to work on a movie that was never finished. At this time she was going by the name “Gabriel Tree,” IMDb.com reported.

Interestingly, actress Karen Grassle was using the professional name “Gabriel Tree” when she auditioned to play Caroline Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie.”

Michael Landon and the showrunners liked her so much that they decided to cast her as Landon’s fictional wife. She was up for the part against 47 actresses who also put themselves forward for the role.

In 1975, Karen Grassle talked about her early work on “Little House on the Prairie.” It was during that year that she spoke with Bobbie Wygant. Wygant was a reporter based out of Dallas.

“I was completely new to this world,” Grassle reportedly 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.”

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