Little House on the Prairie and Leave It to Beaver are connected. The Ingalls family and the Cleavers never met on the small screen but two people with ties to each series knew each other in real life. Ken Osmond, the actor who played Leave It Beaver’s Eddie Haskell, grew up with Laura Ingalls Wilder as his next-door neighbor.
Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired ‘Little House on the Prairie’
Wilder is known for writing a series of Little House on the Prairie novels. They’re based on her own childhood as a pioneer in 1800s America. Wilder wrote nine Little House books total. By the time of her death at the age of 90 in 1957, her books had become beloved.
In 1974, Wilder’s books became a TV series. Just like her novels, the show centered around the Ingalls family. Little House on the Prairie went on to become a popular program. On the air for nine seasons, it starred Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls), Michael Landon (Charles Ingalls), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls), Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls), and Sidney Greenbush (Carrie Ingalls).
Ken Osmond and Laura Ingalls Wilder were neighbors in Missouri
In 2014, Ken Osmond, the actor who played Haskell on Leave It to Beaver, shared he grew up having a famous neighbor. In his memoir, Eddie: The Life and Times of America’s Preeminent Bad Boy, he recalled what it was like living next door to Wilder.
“We landed in Mansfield, Missouri where my pop bought a dairy farm along with some hogs. Our next-door neighbor was none other than Laura Ingalls-Wilder, the author of The Little House on the Prairie series of books,” he wrote.
“The Ingalls-Wilder family members were very nice people,” he added. “Pop had a .22 rifle, but it wasn’t good for much since the barrel was bent and it couldn’t shoot straight. The Ingalls-Wilder family used to loan their gun to my dad so he could go hunt squirrels and have something to show for it.”
Wilder would never see Osmond as Haskell. The author died on Feb. 10, 1957, eight months before the premiere of Leave It to Beaver. It wouldn’t be until November 1957 that Osmund would make his debut in Leave It to Beaver Season 1 Episode 5: “New Neighbors.”
How to watch ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘Leave It to Beaver’
Good news for Little House fans and Leave It to Beaver fans alike. At the time of publication, both TV shows are streaming. Watch Little House for free on Amazon Prime Video. It’s also available with a premium subscription to NBC’s streaming service, Peacock. As for Leave It to Beaver, all six seasons of the iconic sitcom are available on Peacock.