One of the most beloved families in television history were the Ingalls of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. “Little House On The Prairie” was an instant classic of seventies television, and it was based on the real-life diaries of a young girl living on America’s frontier in the 1870’s and ‘80’s.
We thought it might be kind of neat to see where the cast of this television treasure are today and share it with you.
Portraying the patriarch of this family was Television legend, Michael Landon. He had risen to stardom in the 1960’s as Little Joe, on the western show, Bonanza. What many may not know is that in addition to starring as Charles Ingalls, Landon wrote and directed the majority of episodes, including the pilot movie. After his stint on “Little House,” Landon went on to star in the television show “Highway To Heaven.” Sadly, Michael Landon died of pancreatic cancer in 1991.
Charles Ingalls’ wife, Caroline, was played by actress Karen Grassle. She defined a character of firm yet nurturing motherhood that America fell in love with. She continues to act to this day, appearing in live well-regarded and lives in the San Francisco area. And she looks great!
Perhaps the most important character in the show was little Laura Ingalls, from whose perspective the entire story revolves. The middle of three girls living on the Great Plains, it is her story. Melissa Gilbert defined the role and used it to build a strong career, long after childhood fame waned. She continues to act, has written her own series of children’s books, and at one time even considered a run for Congress, before severe back problems sidelined her from the campaign trail.
Laura’s older sister, Mary Ingalls, was played by Melissa Sue Anderson. After her turn on “Little House,” Anderson opted out of a career in acting and moved to Canada where she lives with her family. In 2010, she published a memoir about her time as one of America’s first family of television.
The youngest member of the Ingalls household was little Carrie Ingalls. She was actually portrayed by twin sisters Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush. Neither sister chose to pursue acting as a career after “Little House,” instead starting families.
The best part of the show may have been how developed the entire town of Walnut Grove was. Ingalls-Wilder populated her stories with such memorable characters as Nellie Olsen, the spoiled daughter of the henpecked town Merchant. Portrayed by Alison Arngrim, she was always the easiest character to dislike, but even so, you had to like her just a little bit. Arngrim has grown up to be a fierce spokesperson for children who suffer sexual abuse and even wrote a book about the abuse she experienced as a child.
Victor French played the gruff but lovable Isaiah Edwards. A well regarded stage actor, he was best known for playing the bad guy. After “Little House” he continued to work with Michael Landon on the show “Highway To Heaven.” He also died of cancer in 1989.
Who was your favorite “Little House On The Prairie” character, and what are they doing today? Please share your thoughts and stories with us here.