Karen Grassle little house on the prairie
source: screenshot, youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5goCJIs-8I

Karen Grassle, who starred as Caroline “Ma” Ingalls on “Little House On The Prairie,” has written a memoir about her time on the beloved classic television program. It’s called Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma. The book details Grassle’s struggles with alcoholism and her rocky relationship with co-start Michael Landon. Here’s what she had to say.

On Michael Landon

Michael Landon is a beloved classic TV star fondly remembered by many for his roles on “Bonanza” and “Little House On The Prairie.” But Grassle has a different memory of her time with Pa Ingalls. 

Landon initially refused to give Grassle a raise following the first season’s success.

“If you were on a hit series, it was common to renegotiate your contract based on its popularity. Michael did not want to give me a raise. He began to diminish my part, my value.”

It led to a great deal of tension between the two on set. Landon would try to get the upper hand on his co-star and embarrass her a few times on set.

“You know, he made these terrible jokes about the female anatomy, made a woman’s body parts sound so disgusting. I just sat there with all these men standing around laughing at his jokes, and I couldn’t do anything. We didn’t even have a word for sexual harassment.”

Fortunately, Landon and Grassle made amends before his passing from pancreatic cancer.

“And I just felt there was a lot of forgiveness from both sides. We were remembering the better parts of our relationship. And I was so grateful for that because it was a very short time after that Mike was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

Related: These “Little House On The Prairie” Episodes Eerily Foreshadow Coronavirus

On Battling Alcoholism

While on Little House, Grassle was a “high-functioning alcoholic” who used booze to deal with the stresses of being on such a popular show. 

“For me, I got up every day with a terrible hangover. I went to work, I pulled myself together, I worked hard and I concentrated all day long,”

She got sober in 1977 and credited it with giving her a new look at life. 

I have to say, getting up every day with a hangover and still drinking proves it’s a disease. I get one hangover, and I can’t even go near booze for a month. 

Memories of ‘Little House’

This show was way before my time, but my mother loved this show, and I watched a few episodes growing up.

What always struck me about the show was how it could take timely matters and interpret them in a frontier setting. It just shows we are still dealing with the same issues today as we did 150 years ago. 

It bums me out that Michael Landon was such a jerk. But I guess that’s how men were back then. Still doesn’t make it OK. 

Are you a fan of Little House On The Prairie? Let us know in the comments below.

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