‘Little House on the Prairie’: How Many Main Cast Members Are Still Alive?
Little House on the Prairie may have shown its last episode over 35 years ago. However, it is still beloved to this day by many fans for its universally relatable plot lines and simple exploration of American pioneers. While the autobiographical novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder that the show is based on were already a treasured piece of Americana, the show built on that legacy during its nine-year run to cement itself in culture long after its conclusion.
Over the course of the show, fans got to know the Ingalls family pretty well and all the familiar faces from around Walnut Grove. What are the actors that portrayed the American pioneers that fans identified with so much up to today?
Who’s still alive today from ‘Little House on the Prairie’?
Most of the show’s main cast is still around now. Though the historical setting of Little House on the Prairie can make it feel a little more antique than it is, the show only ended in 1982, and most of the cast is still active and working in film and television today.
Even Karen Grassle, who played Caroline Quiner Ingalls, is still an active actor at 79. Though playing the part of Ma Ingalls made the actor a household name, it wouldn’t be her first or her last role. Just this year, she’ll be starring in the upcoming Not to Forget, according to IMDb.
Those that have passed
Unfortunately, some cast members from Little House on the Prairie are no longer with us since the show’s conclusion. As Charles Ingalls, Michael Landon charmed America with his gentle, paternal confidence. According to the LA Times, he would have major success as the main role in Highway to Heaven but would die of pancreatic cancer at only 54, according to the LA Times.
Isiah Edwards’ actor, Victor French, also would die from cancer in the years after the show, as would the actors who played Doc Baker and Mr. Garvey. According to Herald Weekly, Charlotte Stewart, who played school teacher, Mrs. Beadle, would recover from her fight with breast cancer, thankfully.
Some have pointed to the filming location for the town of Walnut Grove in the real-life Simi Valley. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory, where a meltdown occurred in 1959, was used as a dumping ground for radioactive waste while the show was filmed. Exposure to those radioactive materials can cause an elevated risk of cancer.
Where are the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Ingalls girls now?
Fittingly, Nellie actor Alison Arngrim is now a standup comedian. Fans won’t be surprised to find the actor of the often snarky Nellie referencing her experience on the show in her routines or wading into some of the off-screen drama between the cast.
Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary Ingalls, continued acting after the show and has released a book about her time as Mary. The identical twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, who alternated playing Carrie on the show, continued to act for several years before the then teenagers decided to return to school and retire from show business.
While he may not be one of the Ingalls girls, it’s worth noting that even many fans of the show may not remember Jason Bateman getting his start on Little House on the Prairie. According to Good Housekeeping, it may have been late in the show’s run, but the Arrested Development star started in Walnut Grove in 1981 as James Cooper Ingalls.
Melissa Gilbert was the child star who won the role of the writer of the Little House stories, Laura Ingalls. She would continue to act in lower-profile roles throughout her career on television and stage, even playing Ma Ingalls in a stage production once.
Eventually, she would be elected president of the screen actor’s guild. After years in the role, the actor tried her hands at national politics with a campaign for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District’s seat in the US House of Representatives. She was the presumptive Democratic nominee but dropped out of the race due to tragic health reasons.