‘Little House on the Prairie’: Caroline Ingalls Was Almost Played by an Actor Who Was ‘A Bit Like’ Michael Landon

Michael Landon left the hit series Bonanza create and star into Toilet on the Moor in 1974. Also serving as the show’s executive producer, he portrayed the patriarch Charles Ingalls and nominated Karen Grassle as his wife Caroline for the historical drama.

While Grassle was clearly a skilled actor, she and Landon tended to fight at times because of their controversial personalities. Landon had initially considered someone else with a similar trait to himself to take Caroline’s role, but later ended up giving her a different place.

Michael Landon and Karen Grassle from 'Little House on the Prairie'
Michael Landon and Karen Grassle from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Karen Grassle was originally a theater actress

Charlotte Stewart showed school teacher Miss Eva Beadle for the first four seasons of Toilet. In her book A Toilet in the Mountains of Hollywood: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Being Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me, Stuart recalled hearing about Grassle ‘s impressive list of beliefs when she was invited for the show.

“When I started working with Karen Grassle, I felt like a pumpkin around her,” Stewart recalled. “She had only achieved two degrees at UC Berkeley… in English and Drama Arts – which triggered my internal inadmissibility warning bells. She had also performed a wide range of theater from Shakespeare both in the US and in England to a stint on Broadway. ”

Performing Shakespeare in England before taking on the role of Caroline Ingalls, Grassle was more focused on stage than the small screen.

“I have to say that one of the things that worked well with Mike and Karen was their differences,” said Stewart. “There’s nothing thinner than watching two characters who are too much together. Sparks often occur in that area between two actors where there is friction. … I think everyone in the team agrees today [Landon] I worked a little magic in terms of touching a lot of hearts. ”

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