‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Charlotte Stewart Initially Considered This Co-Star ‘Intimidating’

Charlotte Stewart was recruited by Bonanza alum Michael Landon for Little House on the Prairie in 1974 to play Walnut Grove school teacher Eva Beadle. Stewart formed some close bonds with her fellow cast members, including one that at first made her feel like a “bumpkin” thanks to her impressive academic background.

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

Karen Grassle came to ‘Little House’ with some theater chops

In her 2016 memoir, Stewart revealed that many of her scenes on Little House were with the child actors of the cast since she portrayed a teacher. Over time, she got to know several co-stars close to her own age. Karen Grassle, who played Caroline Ingalls, possessed an impressive resume which made Stewart feel a little out of her league.

“When I started working with Karen Grassle, I felt like a bumpkin around her,” Stewart wrote in Little House in the Hollywood Hills: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Becoming Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me. “She had earned not one but two degrees at U.C. Berkeley… in English and Dramatic Arts – which made my internal inadequacy alarm bells ring.”

Grassle’s experience in theater made Stewart consider herself on uneven footing with the actor.

“She had also done a broad range of theater from Shakespeare, both in the U.S. and in England to a stint on Broadway,” the Little House alum said of Grassle. “The only thing we had in common really was that she’d taken part in the summer program in 1961 at Pasadena Playhouse.”

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‘Little House’ star shared similarities with her character

Stewart raved of Grassle’s work ethic and noted how many of her character’s most flattering traits were an extension of Grassle herself.

“She took her work seriously, was always prepared, and managed to look lovely and even elegant in the plain palate of costumes and makeup the producers gave her character,” Stewart remarked. “You can actually see much of her personality on screen as there wasn’t a huge distance between Karen and her character in terms of stamina, smarts, and focus.”

Some qualities of Grassle’s had to remain off camera in order for Caroline to stay true to her wholesome, demure demeanor.

“In other ways she’s very different,” Stewart explained. “More outspoken, a better advocate for herself, and more adventuresome. She was terrific as Caroline Ingalls and she and Michael [Landon] always had excellent chemistry on screen.”

Karen Grassle and Charlotte Stewart carpooled to the ‘Little House’ set in style

Grassle and Stewart developed a solid friendship during their years together on Little House. Stewart pointed out her co-star’s giving nature when she shared her daily car service to the set.

“While I initially found Karen intimidating, she turned out to be wonderful to work with and always ready with an act of generosity,” Stewart wrote. “Because of her starring role on the show, NBC sent a car to her house to pick her up in the mornings on days when we were shooting in Simi Valley. … She was kind enough to offer me an open invitation to jump in alongside her.”

Stewart welcomed the easygoing journey to work with Grassle and the two often socialized off the set as well.

“I’d get to her house at 5 a.m., and we’d ride out to the set together,” Stewart recalled. “It was a great way to arrive at work much more relaxed and ready to go. … Karen was one of the few cast members from Little House that I hung out with outside of work.”

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