No one could say ‘no’ to a good classic, especially one which accompanied us during our formative years. While many young generations might not know about “Little House On The Prairie”, the show undeniably brings back a lot of nostalgia for all of those who grew up watching the adventures of the Ingalls family.
Knowing it’s been a while since the series ended in 1983, no one could fault people for wondering whatever happened to its cast, what other projects they were in, and who of them are still alive. So if you’re also curious about the whereabouts of the stars of “Little House On The Prairie”, keep with us to discover all!
Where Is The Show’s Cast Now?
While no one denies how popular his character Charles Ingalls is, Michael Landon’s played several other roles just as memorable. With a career which had started in the 1950s, his appearances in series such as “Love Is Forever” and the 1958’s version of “Cheyenne” put his popularity on the rise.
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Thanks most of all to his well-known character Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright in the long-running series “Bonanza”, Michael was extremely popular by the time “Little House In The Prairie” premiered in 1974, and continuing to be so when he left the series prior to its ninth season. Though he was in the show’s spin-off TV movies “Look Back To Yesterday” and “The Last Farewell”, his next big role came starring in the dramatic fantasy series “Highway To Hell” in 1984, considered a classic nowadays.
That same year, Michael was inducted into the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and was honored with a Golden Boot Award for his contributions to the Western Genre. Following the end of “Highway To Hell” in 1989, Michael next starred in the movie “Us”, which he also directed and produced. Unfortunately, on 1 July that year, he died of pancreatic cancer, of which he had been diagnosed only two months before. However, Michael’s legacy stood the passage of time, and in 1998 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame.
Though she’s mostly recognized for playing the role of the matriarch Caroline Quiner Ingalls, the truth is that Karen Grassle had an accomplished career in acting prior to appearing in the show, especially in theatre. The earliest years of her career were spent acting in festivals, eventually landing her first contract to perform at the Front Street Theatre in Tennessee. Years later, she debuted on Broadway being cast in plays such as the “The Gingham Dog” and “Butterflies Are Free”, at some point even sharing the stage with the likes of Brandon deWilde and Maureen O’Sullivan.
Though prior to portraying Caroline Ingalls she had no prior experience on TV, the role opened many professional doors for her, and from then on, Karen appeared in a variety of series, such as “Gunsmoke” and the film “Harry’s War”.
Following the end of “Little House On The Prairie”, Karen appeared in its spin-off film “The Last Farewell”, but also dared to play roles in a variety of genres by appearing in the movie “Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction” and the series “Murder, She Wrote”.
Nowadays Karen is still actively working in Hollywood, added to the release of her memoir book “Bright Lights, Prairie Dust” in 2021.
Although her role as Laura Ingalls might have catapulted her to fame, Melissa Gilbert is nowadays known for having portrayed dozens of roles on TV, films, and for her career as a politician.
Following the end of “Little House On The Prairie” in 1983, she appeared in each of its spin-off movies. Melissa then went on to appear in several drama movies for TV, such as “Family Secrets”, “Choices” and “Sanctuary”. In 2001 she became the 26th President of the Screen Actors Guild, beating her opponent Valerie Harper by almost doubling her vote, a feat she repeated in 2003 by winning the election against Kent McCord.
Melissa’s main goal during her two-period mandates was to merge the Screen Actors Guild with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Though she wasn’t able to achieve it, in 2012 the two unions finally became one.
Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie, 1975)
In 2008, Melissa acted in the musical adaption of “Little House On The Prairie”, which took her on a national tour for over a year. In 2012 she joined the “Dancing With The Stars” competition, finishing in fifth place. As well, she announced her intentions to become a US Representative for the Democrat Party, but dropped out of the campaign for health issues.
Melissa’s most recent film role was in the movie “When We Last Spoke” in 2019.
Melissa Sue Anderson
Her character stayed in the series for seven seasons, but there’s no way you don’t remember Melissa Sue Anderson’s portrayal of Mary Ingalls, the family’s oldest and blind daughter.
Following the end of “Little House On The Prairie”, Melissa Sue’s characters in films have been minor, counting appearances in movies such as “Far North” in 1988, and more recently in “Veronica Mars” from 2014, however, her career on TV has been far more prolific.
With many appearances in TV movies and series, Melissa’s portrayal of characters such as Eve Crystal from “Murder, She Wrote” and Laura Donovan in “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, have gained Mellissa Sue a privileged place on the general public’s minds for decades.
In 2010, Melissa Sue published “The Way I See It”, an autobiography of her memoirs from her time working in “Little House On The Prairie”, added to the many struggles she faced growing up as a child star.
Unfortunately, Mellisa Sue’s presence in show business nowadays is scarce. Her last role on TV was in 2018, when she landed a minor role in the comedy movie “The Con Is On”. She has been married since 1990 to the producer Michael Sloan, with whom she’s welcomed two children.
Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush
Unlike their co-stars whose careers had a moderate or big success, the same couldn’t be said about the twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, who jointly played the role of the Ingalls’ youngest daughter Carrie, and sometimes the girl’s imaginary friend, Alyssa.
Though there’s no question as to why the twins gained such immense popularity through the show, their exit from it took a lot of people by surprise. However, the reason behind their leaving was apparently their uncomfortability with their character Carrie, and the direction “Little House On The Prairie” was going.
Following their joint exit from the series, the Greenbush twins went on to complete their early education, eventually matriculating in 1988 from Santa Monica High. However, their career on TV was on a downhill. In 1983, Lindsay appeared as Butterfly in the “Matt Houston” series, and the same year Sidney starred as Amy McVickers in the comedy drama film “Hambone and Hillie”, making it the last two characters portrayed by the twins to date.
Though they’re not contracted by Hollywood anymore, the Greenbush twins constantly appeared in “Little House On The Prairie” cast reunions, the most recent taking place in 2021 in the talk-show “Stars in the House”.
Remembered for playing the role of a young Charles Ingalls, the fact is that Matthew Labyourteaux has built an accomplished career since his days in “Little House On The Prairie”. Following the end of the series, Matthew was cast in a wide number of roles on TV, including the clever Richie Adler in “Whiz Kids”, and Bobby Johnson in the comedy series “Night Court”.
However, Matthew’s passion was actually somewhere else all along. His skills with video-games led him to become the 10th best player of Atari’s “Centipede” in the 1981 worldwide competition, and the next year he had no qualms at becoming the best “Pac-Man” player at a nation-wide championship organized by People magazine.
Matthew’s love for video-games evidently influenced him to start a career in voice acting too. So far, he’s voiced dozens of characters for video-games, including those of franchises such as “Thrillville” and “Gangstar Vegas”.
Nonetheless, his most memorable work in the field is definitely on TV, voicing “Yu-Gi-Oh! GX”s protagonist Jaden Yuki.
Matthew’s most recent credited role as a conventional actor was in the movie-short “Ryan” in 2015, and as a voice actor in the video-game “Star Wars: The Old Republic – Onslaught”, released in 2019.
As well, in 2020 he married his long-time girlfriend Leslie.
Although Nels Oleson wasn’t one of the main characters of the series, the role surely gained Richard Bull a lot of recognition in the industry. His appearances in the series amounted to 145 episodes, from the premiere season to the ninth. He also appeared in the three subsequent “Little House On The Prairie” movies.
With a career which started in the early 1950s and extended to the 2010s, it’s not easy to summarise the many contributions Rich made to the entertainment industry.
Some of his most memorable roles after the end of “Little House On The Prairie” were as Mr. Furillo in “Hill Street Blues”, Judge Warner in “Highway To Heaven”, and as Earl Higgins in the 2008 movie “Sugar”.
After appearing in over 100 movie and TV productions, and acting in innumerable plays, Richard’s last role was in the series “Boss” from 2011. Unfortunately, Richard died on 3 February 2014 in a California’s hospital resulting from pneumonia. He was 89 years old at the time of passing, and was survived by his wife Barbara Collentine.
While her character Harriet Oleson was widely successful in giving the series a good dose of well-humored comedy, Katherine MacGregor unfortunately didn’t have a popular career on TV or films thereafter. Prior to appearing in “Little House On The Prairie”, Katherine’s roles in series such as “Play Of The Week” and “The Young Lawyers” were mostly minor.
However, the fame she gained through her portrayal of Harriet Oleson was so incredible that it led her to appear in talk-shows in Spain, a country where “Little House On The Prairie” was surprisingly vastly popular.
Following the end of the series, Katherine converted to Hinduism to overcome her alcoholic tendencies, in addition to leaving the small screen for good to focus on stage plays. For decades she also worked as an acting teacher at the children’s academy Wee Hollywood Vedanta Players, until her retirement in 2000.
The last time Katherine gave an interview was back in 2014, when she collaborated with Patrick Loubatiere for his book “Prairie Memories”. Katherine sadly died on 14 November 2018 in California, though the reasons for her passing weren’t revealed.
Unbeknownst to many, Nellie Oleson is a character which didn’t appear in the original “Little House On The Prairie” books, as it’s actually a mix of Laura Ingalls’ three best friends.
Portraying that mix of personalities was something the actress Alison Arngrim knew how to do very well. Appearing in a total of 109 episodes of the series, the character set the basis for the popularization of the ‘bad girl’ type in the 1980s, and even won her a Young Artist Award in the Best Young Comedienne’s category. Nonetheless, Alison’s stay with the series ended in 1982 with the seventh season, as she went on to appear in the TV movie “I Married Wyatt Earp”.
Though she took a long break from acting in 1985, she worked as an awareness activist of AIDS, a disease which caused the death of Alison’s friend and former co-star Steve Tracy.
Alison made her acting comeback in 2001, with the role of Jude in the short “For The Love Of May”, followed by her portrayal of Edith in the film “Le deal” and many others. Her most recent acting work was in the 2021 film “Even In Dreams”, she’s also involved with The National Association to Protect Children aiming for legislations favourable for childrens’ protection.
Unlike the rest of his former co-stars, there’s not a lot to say about Jonathan Gilbert’s whereabouts. Following the end of “Little House On The Prairie”, he didn’t reprise his role of Willie Oleson for the series’ spin-off movies. As his adopted sister Melissa Gilbert confessed in her 2010’s autobiography, Jonathan moved from California in the 1980s, and cut contact with her and the rest of the family.
Nowadays he apparently lives in New York and works as a stockbroker, but there’s no information available about his personal life.
The Series Now
Though it’s been almost four decades since “Little House On The Prairie” ended, its popularity still persists to this day. Besides the uncountable re-runs and a musical play which premiered in 2008, the hopes of a series’ reboot are never lost by those who still love the show.
Whether or not that ever becomes a reality is yet to be seen, but there’s no doubt that the impact “Little House On The Prairie” had on entire generation is more alive than ever and it’ll take many years to disappear, if it ever does.