Decades after the show, the original cast members of the historical drama “Little House On The Prairie,” have moved on from Walnut Grove, but their impressionable onscreen trails keep leading fans back to them.
It’s been over forty years since America’s favorite family graced the TV screens, giving viewers a glimpse into life from a rural perspective on “Little House On the Prairie.”
Yet, the show remains a top-pick despite the generational differences evident in the now barely-recognizable cast who have changed physically with the evolving times since its debut in 1974.
The American Western historical drama followed the lives of the Ingalls, a typical lower-class family living on a farm in Plum Creek, near Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
For nine seasons, viewers watched this bunch manage their family turmoils, raise their kids, build relationships, engage in manual labor, and till the ground for their daily income while relating with their neighbors, friends, and bullies.
Set between the seventies and mid-nineties, “Little House On The Prairie” was inspired by Laura Ingall Wilder’s best-selling books, the “Little House” legally acquired and filmed by producer Ed Friendly.
Since the show went off-the-air in 1983, many have anticipated a reboot in a bid to follow up on their favorite characters.
While one can hardly keep up with the Ingalls in the last four decades, stalking their real-life role players seems like the next best thing. Here’s all we know about the casts of “Little House On The Prairie,” since leaving the show.
1. Michael Landon
Charles Ingalls became the yardstick for discerning the ideal father figure when his character first graced the screen in 1974. The lucky man privileged to play the role of the iconic “Pa,” was none other than Michael Landon.
As the family patriarch, Pa was hardworking, honest and the heart of the Ingalls family, earning him the love of his daughters. Landon’s role in the real world was not far off.
Post-“Little House,” the actor, who directed and executive-produced the show went on to work on other films including “Highway To Heaven.”
Outside his acting and filmmaking career, he tied the knot three times. His marriages yielded nine children lucky to enjoy his fatherly love until his death in 1991 after a three-month battle with lung cancer.
2. Melissa Gilbert
Actress Melissa Gilbert made the most appearances on the show as the adorable little Laura Ingalls. As the free-spirited youngster, she not only stole the heart of her onscreen family but that of millions of viewers spread across the globe.
After leaving the show, Gilbert continued pursuing her acting career, starring in several movies and TV shows. Some of her works include “The Miracle Worker,” “Safe Harbor,” and “Sanctuary.”
Additionally, she played Caroline “Ma” Ingalls in the touring production of “Little House On The Prairie, the Musical,” in 2009. She also released an autobiography titled “Prairie Tale: A Memoir,” and competed in the 14th season of “Dancing With the Stars.”
In 2001, she became the elected president of the Screen Actors’ Guild, also serving two terms as SAG’s head honcho. Off-the-screen, she has been married thrice and has two kids.
3. Melissa Sue Anderson
Mary Ingalls Wilder’s grace and charisma even in the face of her visual impairment set her apart from the rest of the brood. As the eldest daughter of the clan who lost her sight at fifteen, Mary did an impossibly great job at managing her home as a big sister.
Luckily, the actress who played Mary, Melissa Sue Anderson never lost her sight but had it set on other roles. After appearing on “Little House,” for eight seasons, Aderson went on to star in movies like “The Equalizer,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and “Which Mother Is Mine.”
The Western Performer Hall of Fame Inductee also compiled an autobiography titled, “The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House.”
Notably, she has been married to Michael Sloan since 1990 and has two kids, Piper, and Griffin.
4. Karen Grassle
Karen Grassle was one of the older “Little House On The Prairie” cast members when she took on the role of Caroline “Ma” Ingalls in the early seventies.
Then a newcomer in Hollywood, Grassle surprisingly beat hundreds of actresses who auditioned for the part of the no-nonsense mom.
At the end of her 9-seasons run, she relocated to New Mexico where she set up the Santa Fe’s Resource Theatre Company.
She eventually returned to the United States to continue her acting pursuit. The 79-year-old three-time divorcee has since starred on “Wyatt Earp,” “Crisis In MidAir,” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”
In 2021, she announced the release of her memoir, “Bright Lights, Prairie Dust,” published by She Writes Press.
5. Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush
Lindsay Greenbush and her identical twin sister Sidney Greenbush jointly played the role of Carrie Ingalls for nine seasons. They made their first appearances on “Little House,” at age four and have barely snagged other acting roles since the show.
While Lindsay has only appeared in “Butterfly,” and “A Shortstop Away,” her sister, Sidney only made one appearance on the 1983 series, “Hambone and Hillie.”
6. Richard Bull
Actor Richard Bull starred in several movies before landing the role of Nels Oleson on “Little House On The Prairie.”
Having attained Hollywood stardom following his role as Doc on “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea,” his acting career continues to soar after his run on “Little House.’
Bull went on to star in movies like “Witless Protection,” and “Boss,” before passing away in 2014, months before his 90th birthday. He died from pneumonia.
7. Alison Arngrim
Blonde locks, witty, snobbish, and a spoiled brat, one doesn’t need a fortune teller to discern that Nellie Oleson would become Laura’s nightmare for the next nine seasons.
While the two characters never saw eye to eye on the show, their real-life roleplayers, Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim forged a sustainable friendship in real-time.
After playing the role of Nellie, Arngrim made appearances on “The Love Boat,” and “Fantasy Island,” among others. She also pursued a career as a comedian.
While this actress keeps her personal life private, reports show she has been married at least two times since her time on Walnut Creek.
8. Wendi and Brenda Turnbaugh
Twin sisters Wendi and Brenda Turnbaugh shared the role of little Grace Ingalls on the beloved eighties TV show for four seasons. As the fifth and last child of the Ingalls, joining the show in its fifth season, she was unarguably the most adorable of the bunch, and the most easily overlooked.
Since quitting the show, the sisters bid farewell to Hollywood, and have only been on one commercial since their Post-plum Creek days.
Having explored some fan-favorite “Little House On The Prairie” cast members and caught up with details of their lives today, one can only wait with fingers crossed in hopes of seeing some of them back on the screen in a possible reboot.