‘Little House on the Prairie: Charlotte Stewart Called This Co-Star ‘One of My Favorite Directors’ – and It Wasn’t Michael Landon

Charlotte Stewart starred on Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1978 as Walnut Grove school teacher Eva Beadle. Working with an ensemble cast, Stewart built a camaraderie with her co-stars, including show creator Michael Landon. Though Landon often served as writer and director on numerous episodes, Stewart recalled one actor whose directing skills helped make the most of her performance.

Michael Landon of 'Little House on the Prairie'
Michael Landon of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Michael Landon was open to story ideas on ‘Little House’

Stewart raved of Landon’s ability to juggle so many responsibilities on the Little House set. She also praised his accessibility, where he welcomed plot line suggestions from the cast. Stewart was thrilled when he turned one of her personal stories into an episode.

“[Landon] was always looking for ideas, always had a legal pad with him jotting down notes,” she wrote in her 2016 memoir, Little House in the Hollywood Hills: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Becoming Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me. “In fact, I gave Michael an idea for an episode in season 2 based on my godmother, Pauline, who had been the only teacher in the 1930s in Fort Bragg.”

The Little House alum explained how her godmother had to maintain a classroom of many older, ornery boys. The students were used to working with their fathers in the lumber yard rather than sitting at a desk all day. The confinement prompted them to cause trouble for their teacher.

“Life as a pioneer teacher was tough and the everyday challenges weren’t always pretty,” Stewart shared. “I could tell Mike liked the story because after I told it to him, I watched him go to work on that yellow legal pad, writing very quickly, outlining the basis for an episode that would be called ‘Troublemaker’.”

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Victor French directed the ‘Little House’ episode ‘Troublemaker’

The season 2 episode featured Miss Beadle having a roomful of older male students, with more on the way at the end of the harvest from other farms. The townspeople are concerned that she cannot keep the classroom under control.

“The school board decides that a man would be better suited to handle the classroom management situation,” Stewart explained. “They vote to fire Miss Beadle.”

Co-star Victor French, who played Isaiah Edwards on the show, was behind the camera for that particular episode. When it was time for her scene with Landon (Charles Ingalls) who gives her the news that she’s terminated, French gave Stewart some solid direction.

“Victor French, who was not only a tremendous actor but one of my favorite directors on the series, took me aside after a take or two filming this scene and gave me a great note,” she recalled. “He said quietly, ‘Don’t let him see you cry’. It turned out to be a moving way for the audience to see both Eva Beadle’s strength and her vulnerability at the same time.”

Victor French of 'Little House on the Prairie'
Victor French of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Charlotte Stewart praised Victor French’s acting

In her book, Stewart brought up several impressive credits from French’s acting career, which included the theater.

“In 1959, French had worked with Leonard Nimoy, Richard Chamberlain, Vic Morrow, and others to found a nonprofit theater company in L.A. called Company of Angels,” Stewart wrote. “It’s still open today and is the oldest repertory theater in Los Angeles.”

Since French’s burly mountain-man character often brought some comedy to the historical drama, Stewart felt that viewers didn’t witness the full range of his acting talent.

“A lot of fans never got to see past the bearded, backcountry, yeehaw charm of the character he played to know what a passionate and fine actor he was,” she remarked.

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