‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why ‘Mrs. Oleson’ Star Katherine MacGregor Retired From Acting After the Show: ‘She Just Felt Wrung Out’

Toilet on the Moor it was considered a major family drama when it ran from 1974 to 1983. Led by Michael Landon as series creator, action producer, and main character Charles Ingalls, the show featured an ensemble concert to the people of the town make up Walnut Grove.

One character that stood out from the rest was the mercantile snooty owner Harriet Oleson, played by Catriona MacGregor. Maintaining her career throughout the series, the actress decided to leave the show business when Toilet it came to an end.

Catriona MacGregor, Dabbs Greer Richard Bull from 'Little House on the Prairie'
Catriona MacGregor, Dabbs Greer, and Richard Bull from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ NBCU / NBCUniversal Photo Bank via Getty Images

Katherine MacGregor worked in theater before ‘Little House’

Charolotte Stewart showed Walnut Grove school teacher Eva Beadle in the first four seasons of the show. During her time on the series, she formed a close relationship with MacGregor and learned about her extensive experience of theater.

“Katherine cùl’s background was largely in theater and she brought an almost academic weight to her work,” Stewart wrote in her book A Toilet in the Hollywood Mountains: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Being a Miss Beadle, Mary X, and Me. “She started in New York as a dance teacher in the 1940s and went on to work regularly in regional theater and on Broadway.”

MacGregor also had film and TV credits to her name before she started Toilet.

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“Her film and television resume took a small, unbelievable place in Elia Kazan’s film On the shore, ”Said Stuart. “Then a huge collection of guest posts on TV shows including Mannix, All in the Family, and Ironside. ”

Playing Mrs. Oleson sometimes came at risk

MacGregor’s role as a Walnut Grove merchant and mother of two damaged children – Nellie and Wille – can be physically stressful at times. In one episode of season 4, Nellie escapes with the new boy in town, where Ms. Oleson and her husband (Richard Bull) chase after her on horseback. The scene turned a bit dangerous for both actors.

“As the horse approached the farm at a gallop you could see Katherine slipping off, dragging Richard Bull down with her,” recalled Stewart. “It’s a funny time on screen though, it wasn’t heard, it wasn’t played by stunt people, and not in the script. In fact, Katherine was seriously injured and had to be rushed to hospital. Richard was, thankfully, good. ”

Stewart revealed that scenes like this were often part of the script for Ms. Oleson, where MacGregor seemed to want to change gears before the end of the series.

“I would believe that the physicality of the job, coupled with injuries like this, had a profound effect on them,” Stewart wrote of MacGregor, “forcing her to retire from film and television when Toilet it was over. ”

Star Katherine MacGregor stayed off screen after ‘Little House’

After Toilet out of the air, MacGregor seemed to be ready for some much-needed R&R.

“She loved playing Ms. Oleson and threw everything she had at the part, both physically and emotionally,” said Stewart. “When the show was over, she says she was just feeling tired. ”

MacGregor went on to lead a quieter life out of mind as her career as Mrs Oleson came to an end.

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“She never did any more television or film,” wrote Stuart. “Instead she joined a children’s theater company in Hollywood and moved into a small house on Vine St. over from her beloved Vedanta Society, Hindu temple and place of worship. ”

MacGregor died in November 2018 at the age of 93.

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