‘Little House on the Prairie’: Karen Grassle Cried After Her ‘Struggle’ Was Acknowledged

Little House on the Prairie star Karen Grassle played Caroline Ingalls from 1974 to 1982. She describes what she called a “struggle” during her years on the hit show. Here’s why Grassle cried when someone acknowledged her experience.   

Karen Grassle says it was sometimes tough to work on the set of ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Karen Grassle poses on the set of 'Little House on the Prairie.'
Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls | NBCU Photo Bank

In her book, Bright Lights, Prairie Dust, Grassle says things were initially OK during her time on Little House on the Prairie, but she began having difficulty after asking for a higher salary. According to her, things became tense between her and her late co-star Michael Landon. She says Landon told her that her salary should be closer to what the child actors were being paid. Before her contract dispute, she says she and Landon worked well together, but she noticed a change after she challenged her contract.

Grassle says one of the toughest aspects of the dispute was when people began to distance themselves from her. In her book, Grassle describes the strain her situation had on her relationship with co-star Melissa Sue Anderson (she played Mary Ingalls). Grassle says she and Anderson used to spend time together in between scenes. However, once the contract dispute was underway, she noticed Anderson became distant.

Karen Grassle cried after her ‘struggle’ was acknowledged

Another issue Grassle says she encountered was dealing with coarse joking on the set. According to her, Landon made inappropriate comments about women. She says she tried her best to focus on the work and not get distracted by what was going on around her.

After Little House on the Prairie ended, Grassle attended many of the cast reunions and other events related to the show. During one reunion, Grassle says former crew member Maury Dexter praised her for remaining professional during her time on the show even though she faced many challenges. She says Dexter also acknowledged that she had faced “mistreatment.”

Grassle says she immediately began crying “big, gloppy tears.” She didn’t think anyone realized what she had been through. It was validating for someone to say they recognized how strong she was and how hard she worked. She was also grateful that someone addressed the way she was allegedly treated.

Karen Grassle’s movies and TV shows

One of Grassle’s early acting roles was in an episode of Love of Life. After that, she appeared in a 1969 episode of New York Television Theatre. In 1974, Grassle played Fran in an episode of Gunsmoke titled “The Wiving.”

Grassle made her film debut in the 1981 movie Harry’s War, in which she played Kathy. Like Melissa Gilbert, she has appeared in many TV movies. Some of her TV movie appearances include roles in Emily, Emily; Battered;and Between the Darkness and Dawn.She has also appeared in Wyatt Earp and The President’s Mistress.

RELATED: ‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon and Karen Grassle Forgave Each Other After This 1 Moment

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