Lit­tle House Still fam­ily

The show’ cast shareh their spe­ciali mem­o­ries i from their time at one-of-a-kind Wal­nut Grove

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

It’s been 34 years since film­ing wrapped for heart­warm­ing fam­ily drama Lit­tle House On the Prairie, but the much-loved TV pro­gram still has le­gions of ador­ing fans around the world to­day.

Now some of the show’s big­gest stars have re­vealed just what it was like de­pict­ing the ups and downs of the close-knit In­galls fam­ily, whose life in Wal­nut Grove, Min­nesota, US, be­came a tear-jerk­ing sta­ple in the homes of view­ers ev­ery­where.

And it wasn’t just the fans who loved the show’s up­lift­ing sto­ry­lines and whole­some morals – Melissa Gil­bert, who starred as Laura, says the cast and crew cher­ished ev­ery minute of their time on the hit se­ries. “We were like a sec­ond fam­ily,” she re­veals.

Ac­cord­ing to Ali­son Arn­grim, who starred as mean girl Nel­lie Ole­son, it was writer, di­rec­tor and pro­ducer Michael Lan­don – who also played In­galls fam­ily pa­tri­arch Charles – who was to thank for the co­he­sive­ness of the group.

Un­like other hit TV shows, she says there was lit­tle off-screen drama on the Prairie set.

“There was no real drama be­cause Michael wouldn’t al­low it,” Ali­son says. “I think we’re the only cast that never had any ar­rests!”

Cer­tainly, Michael ran a tight ship. “He knew ex­actly what he wanted with ev­ery shot and ev­ery scene,” says Ali­son of her boss who trag­i­cally died from pan­cre­atic and liver cancer in 1991, aged just 54.

But Michael’s on-screen warmth as “Pa” In­galls was part of who he was off cam­era too, par­tic­u­larly with the younger mem­bers of the cast. “He made ev­ery child feel spe­cial,” says Rachel Green­bush, who, with her twin sis­ter Sid­ney, played Car­rie In­galls.

“For all the kids’ birth­days he would have a cake made and throw a lit­tle party.”

For many fans, the show’s end in 1983 – af­ter nine sea­sons – was heart­break­ing. But all these years on, those in­volved in Lit­tle House On The Prairie say they’re de­lighted it’s still warm­ing hearts just as it did when it first de­buted on NBC in 1974.

“It was a bright spot in peo­ple’s child­hoods,” says Karen Grassle, who played Caro­line “Ma” In­galls, adding that for many, it con­tin­ues to sat­isfy “a long­ing for com­mu­nity, fam­ily, loy­alty and safety. It was a won­der­ful place to be,” she adds with a smile.

‘I didn’t grow up in the 1970s, I grew up in the 1870s’

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