‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Karen Grassle on How She ‘Mended Fences’ With Michael Landon Before His Death

by Courtney Blackann

“Little House on the Prairie” star Karen Grassle has a new book out titled ‘Bright Lights, Prairie Dust.’ It details her professional life onscreen and personal struggles with alcohol. She also opens up about her rocky relationship with co-star Michael Landon at the height of the show’s success. However, the actress is glad she was able to reconcile with Landon prior to his death.

In an interview with People, Grassle explains that she got on well with Landon while filming ‘Little House on the Prairie’ until they entered season two of the show. It was a success, and she asked for a raise. Landon, who was also an executive producer, denied her that. It left the actress feeling pretty irritated. She was the counterpart to his character, after all, she says.

“I felt insulted as his costar on a hit series. I didn’t want to gouge anybody, but I expected a fair wage,” she says.

Karen Grassle Remembers Working Conditions

Grassle notably played Caroline Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie” opposite Landon. Most fans just know her as ‘Ma.’ Despite the show’s wholesome aura, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies on set.

It was shortly after Grassle asked for a raise that she found herself feeling alienated by Landon on set. She says he would often say crude remarks and make her feel uncomfortable.

“Mike would say ‘c—‘ and make disgusting jokes about how a woman smelled after sex,” Grassle said. “It was almost like I was frozen. But, as a woman in the 1970s film industry, I was so accustomed to these putdowns, it never occurred to me to sharply rebuke him. I kept up the professionalism. I’d be the good girl, play the part and hope.”

Despite their differences, the two continued to work together. Grassle later battled alcoholism and overcame it. That’s when she decided to ‘mend fences’ with her former co-star.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star’s Untimely Death

As for Landon, he passed away in 1991 at the age of 54. His daughter, Leslie Landon Matthews said her dad “burnt both ends of the candle.” In the end, she says, his health was poor because he was always on the go. However, she believes “The Little House on the Prairie” star did his best to stand by his values in life.

“I feel like the takeaway was loving one another and accepting people for who they are. I think he was very proud of the fact that he could bring families together to watch entertainment that was going to bring a wide range of emotions,” Matthews said. “I think he would be disappointed at how families today disengage from each other. He would tell people, ‘Put your phone down. Sit around the dinner table and talk.’ “