Why This ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Asked Dolly Parton to Borrow Her Wig
One cast member of the show previously shared her struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, and journey to sobriety. Attempting to get on the path to wellness through a stint at a health spa, the Little House alum recalled an interaction with music icon Dolly Parton.
Charlotte Stewart had tough times after ‘Little House’
Playing Walnut Grove school teacher Miss Eva Beadle for the first four seasons of Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte Stewart had already been caught up in drug and alcohol use before leaving the show. After moving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Stewart began spiraling further downward.
“One night, I remember drinking so much at a restaurant that a waiter had to walk me home,” Stewart shared in her book Little House in the Hollywood Hills: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Becoming Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me. “Once I got there, I couldn’t get my key into the lock and I stood there stabbing at it unsuccessfully. He kindly and patiently took the key, unlocked the door, and helped me inside.”
The Little House alum realized she needed to take action for the sake of her health and well-being.
“I had moved to San Francisco to escape L.A. and to be closer to my family,” Stewart wrote. “But at the same time I was drinking myself into a kind of blindness. My family was very worried about me. I knew somewhere in my haze that I wanted to quit. Or at least slow down.”
‘Little House’ star tried health spas for sobriety
Rather than going toward a detox or rehab center, Stewart opted for a health spa in the hopes of getting on the right track.
“I went to a health spa in the South Bay to try to pull things together,” she explained. “The place offered transformation through meditation and a vegetarian diet — and of course drugs and alcohol were not on the menu.”
After participating in an evaluation, Stewart received some shocking results which caused her to question the validity of the assessment.
“As part of the in-take, I was asked to fill out a personality profile,” she recalled. “The next day the director asked me into his office to discuss the results. The answers, he said, indicated that I was suicidal. Which I thought was crazy. How could that be? Something was laughably wrong with their test.”
Dolly Parton had no problem sharing
When the first health spa didn’t yield the results she wanted, Stewart later tried another one outside of San Diego. During her stay, Stewart took part in a little group sketch which required some costuming.
“The staff asked us all to do a skit,” she wrote. “So I asked Dolly Parton, the country singer, who was also staying there at the time, if I could borrow her wig. She was more than happy to offer one up — a large blonde thing — and I did a skit in which I played Holly Spartan.”
Despite her attempts toward wellness, Stewart wasn’t getting the help she needed and her career began to suffer.
“Health spas weren’t solving my problems,” Stewart explained. “I cannot blame this on Hollywood. I can’t fault the industry for having a built-in disinterest in actresses over the age of 35. This was good old-fashioned substance abuse doing its career magic.”
Fortunately, Stewart successfully embarked on a path of sobriety in the 80s.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.