"Little House on the Prairie" — what are the stars doing now?
"Little House on the Prairie" was one of those great TV shows that the whole family could enjoy together. It's been 34 years since we said farewell to the Ingalls family and their adventures in Walnut Grove, but it seems like only yesterday. During its run until 1983, the show became an international hit and reruns are still being aired in countries around the globe. But whatever happened to the actors who starred in that legendary series?
The loving father, Charles Ingalls, was played by Michael Landon, one of the most famous faces on television.
Before "Little House on the Prairie" Landon played Little Joe in the hit western series "Bonanza" for 14 years, and from 1985 to 1989 he starred in the series "Highway to Heaven." Tragically, only two years after that series ended, Landon died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54.
One of the most famous moms on TV, Caroline Ingalls, was played by Karen Grassle.
Grassle was 32 years old when the series began. Afterwards she managed to pick up smaller roles on shows like "The Love Boat" and "Murder She Wrote" but also returned to theater acting, which was what she loved most.
The main character in the famous series was Laura Ingalls, played by actress Melissa Gilbert.
Gilbert got a star on the Walk of Fame when she was just 21 years old, making her the youngest actor ever to receive one. These days she can be seen in guest star roles and she even participated in the hit show "Let's Dance." From 2008 to 2010 she starred in the "Little House on the Prairie" musical, this time in the role of the mother, Caroline.
Gilbert also has some talented siblings: her sister Sara had roles on the series "Roseanne" and "The Big Bang Theory" and her brother Jonathan played the role of the impudent Willie Oleson on "Little House on the Prairie."
Laura's older sister, Mary Ingalls, was played by actress Melissa Sue Anderson.
Melissa is now 54 and her career after "Little House on the Prairie" has been limited to smaller guest starring roles. Amazingly, she hasn't aged much and is still recognizable as the girl from Walnut Grove.
The youngest child in the Ingalls family, Carrie Ingalls, was actually played by two actresses — at the same time! The twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush shared the role and took turns in front of the camera.
After "Little House on the Prairie" the twins did a few TV commercials and then left show business to focus on school.
In the show's last season, Shannen Doherty joined the cast in the role of little Jenny Wilder.
Doherty's career really took off in the 90s when she took on the role of Brenda on "Beverly Hills 90210" and later starred in the series "Charmed" as a witch named Prue. Since then the 45-year-old has had a busy career which she's unfortunately had to put on hold during her battle with breast cancer.
The gruff but lovable Mr. Edwards was played by actor Victor French.
French left the series at one point to take the leading role in the sitcom "Carter Country," but eventually returned to Walnut Grove.
After "Little House on the Prairie" he continued working with Michael Landon in the series "Highway to Heaven." Shortly after that series ended in 1989, French died of lung cancer.
There weren't any real "bad guys" on "Little House on the Prairie," but the character Harriet Oleson was the next best thing.
The actress Katherine MacGregor made the character legendary. She was the one person in Walnut Grove that people loved to hate and MacGregor did an excellent job in showing her likable side too. Now 92 years old, the actress turned her back on the film and television industry after the series ended and concentrated on theater, self-discovery and Hinduism.
Harriet's husband, Nels Oleson, didn't have things easy with his busybody wife.
Goodnight Pa. pic.twitter.com/5M47tbi9y6
— Arngrim (@Arngrim) February 4, 2014
The role was played by Richard Bull and "Little House on the Prairie" marked the pinnacle of his career. Before and after the series he could only been seen in small movie and TV roles including a few episodes of "Highway to Heaven." Bull died in 2014 at the age of 89.
The Oleson's daughter, Nellie, was a chip off the old block and like her mother she had a habit of getting on people's nerves.
Alison Arngrim's portrayal of the character was so convincing that she received several awards for her performance — even 30 years after the series! In the 80s, Alison took a break from acting, but now at the age of 55 she actively campaigns for the prevention of AIDS and against child abuse. And when she's not doing that, she even does some standup comedy. Yet the past is not all in the past: in her autobiography she had some harsh words for her former colleague Melissa Sue Anderson. Apparently the dislike that the characters showed toward each other in the show carried over into real life and the two actresses couldn't stand one another.
The Ingalls family always had room for new family members. Their second adopted son was James.
The actor who played this role was only 12 years old when he made his TV debut. No one could have guessed that years later Jason Bateman would be starring in blockbusters such as "Juno," "Hancock," and "Kill The Boss." An A-list Hollywood career that began all the way back in Walnut Grove.
Thinking back to those days in Walnut Grove when life was simple really makes you want to grab a cup of hot chocolate, snuggle up under a blanket and binge on some reruns, doesn't it?