It was not easy to portray a strong pioneer woman founded in the 1870s. Karen Grassle, who painted a picture of Caroline Ingalls Toilet on the Moor, a famous actor from Berkeley, California – a long way from the small town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Working opposite Bonanza the star, Michael Landon, played by Charles Ingalls, must have been horrible. But, strange as it may seem, Grassle has made the work of enjoying children everywhere known as “Ma.”
The NBC series was based on the Toilet a series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder of her life growing up on the prairie. The TV series ran from the fall of 1974 through the spring of 1982, featuring many of the same team during its nine-year run. After that, Toilet: A New Beginning aired for a year later, with a few main characters missing. Here ‘s how the show, and Grassle’ s role, came about – and why it left.
Karen Grassle’s early acting years
After high school, Grassle went to the University of California, Berkeley, graduating with BA degrees in Drama Arts and English in the mid-1960s. According to the Toilet on the Moor website, when he received a Fulbright Grant to study theater art, Grassle went to the London Academy of Music and Drama Arts. Her first album was on Broadway in 1968, in The Gingham dog, which opened doors for more stage roles, according to curriculum vitae.
More than a decade later when she returned from England where she worked for Shakespeare’s production company, Grassle was asked to audition for a film that fell through. Finding herself in Los Angeles and out of work, her agent suggested she read for the part in a new television series, the mother of a pioneer family set in the late 19th century.
Grassle admitted he wasn’t a big TV fan and didn’t know much about Landon, who starred in the new series, according to Fox News. However, she went to the test. “They saw everyone in Hollywood who was right for the part,” she said. “They were down to the wire because they put everyone else down. After I read my second scene with Mike, he jumped up like a jack-in-the-box and said, ‘Take her to wardrobe!’ ”
When approved by NBC, Grassle was on its way to becoming one of the most beloved moms on television for a decade.
Single at the time and childless, Grassle found herself as an on-screen family with her husband, Charles (Landon), and three daughters, Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura (Melissa Gilbert), and Carrie (Rachel Lindsay Greenbush and Sidney Greenbush). Her character, “Ma,” was later born to Ingalls ’fourth daughter, Grace (Brenda Turnbaugh and Wendi Turnbaugh).
Initially, Grassle Landon, who also led nearly half of the events, found “a very hard worker and can be very misleading,” she said. Despite finding inequalities in her pay, Grassle said she and Landon were good friends.
Grassle based her career on her own mother. From reading the Toilet books, she learned that Caroline was “difficult and strong,” as was her mother. “I took her character, her strength and her wisdom and put Caroline in with that,” she said.
She immediately had a connection with the actors who were portraying her daughters, especially with Gilbert, making her career easier from the start. “The two Melissas [Gilbert and Anderson] they were well worn, ”she said. “All the children were very good. ”
Despite his popularity, the Ingalls family grew up, Toilet rated down. Ingalls family members each moved in their own direction, and Landon decided it was time to stop working in the series. ‘Pa’ and ‘Ma’ moved on and the concert was renamed, Toilet: A Fresh Start, ” with a focus on the younger generation.
Grassle’s part was retired in 1982. After that, Grassle appeared in guest appearance roles on TV from time to time, but she wanted to get back into the theater. She helped find Santa Fe, a New Mexico theater company, and toured in a number of shows including a tour around 2007. Driving Miss Daisy. Now aged 78, Grassle lives in the San Francisco Bay area and lives in a local theater.