‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Charlotte Stewart Credits Michael Landon for the Role of Miss Beadle

Charlotte Stewart landed the part of school teacher Eva Beadle on Little House on the Prairie in 1974. The historical drama was based on the book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and created for the small screen by Bonanza alum Michael Landon. While prepping for her audition, Stewart discovered that Miss Beadle is barely mentioned in Wilder’s books and had little to go on for developing her character. She assumed the role would be a one-shot deal, but lauded Landon’s genius for turning it into a four-year gig.

Charlotte Stewart of 'Little House on the Prairie'
Charlotte Stewart of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Miss Beadle appeared in one line of ‘Little House’ books

Stewart already had some television credits to her name when she tried out for the role of Miss Beadle. She assumed Landon saw her performance skills after a few guest appearances on Bonanza. Stewart tried to familiarize herself with the character before heading into her audition.

“Having never read the books, I knew little about the character, other than she was a teacher who worked in Walnut Grove’s one-room schoolhouse,” Stewart wrote in her memoir Little House in the Hollywood Hills: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Becoming Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me. “With so little to go on, it can be challenging to breathe life into the dialogue on the page but I’d learned to go with my gut.”

The Little House alum later revealed that Miss Beadle only materialized in one section of the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series.

“Miss Beadle was not in the books.” Stewart told Pop Culture Classics in 2016. “She was mentioned once. In one book, she’s mentioned when Laura and Mary go to school. And all it says is that she was pretty and that she smelled good. So I get tons of Lemon Verbena, all the time.”

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Michael Landon wrote Miss Beadle into the ‘Little House’ cast

Despite the Walnut Grove school teacher not being a main character in the Little House book series, Landon intentionally added the character of Miss Beadle to the series. Stewart expressed her continued gratitude to Landon for providing her with such a memorable opportunity.

“It was Michael Landon,” she remarked. “He was the one who literally created this. So Michael literally went with the character and stuck her in there for four years, God bless him. And he was the boss. He guided the storylines. I mean, he had writers and other directors. But he knew his audience.”

Stewart continues to receive adoration from fans of Little House, but passes the accolades on to Landon for making her a part of the iconic NBC series.

“I have to thank him for anything that I get from the audiences or the fans,” she shared. “It was all because of Mike.”

‘Little House’ and ‘Highway to Heaven’ drew the same type of audience

The Little House star noted Landon’s talent for anticipating what viewers wanted to watch. He became somewhat of an expert in creating family-friendly content and launched another NBC series, Highway to Heaven, soon after Little House ended. The series provided audiences with more feel-good storylines that focused on values. Stewart praised Landon for developing another television hit.

Bonanza showed him a great deal about what people wanted for their television shows,” Stewart explained. “They didn’t necessarily want shoot-em-ups or whatever else is on. He knew they wanted some kind of family entertainment. And he was absolutely right. And then he went on to do Highway to Heaven, which was another one about goodness and helping people. He did it again.”

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