Little House on the Prairie

Why ‘Little House on the Prairie’s ‘Ma Ingalls’ Actress Once Considered Switching Professions

Breaking into the acting industry is no easy feat as “Little House on the Prairie” star Karen Grassle can attest. However, before finding fame in the classic TV historical drama, Grassle once revealed she almost considered switching professions.

Grassle wrote a book entitled Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma last fall. In it, she details her experience as an actress on the “Little House on the Prairie” set. One of the most prominent highlights is that before snagging the role of Caroline Ingalls, Karen Grassle endured significant financial instability.

According to Fox News, Grassle felt “so broke and so discouraged” before the show, she almost gave up on acting.

Soon enough, however, she realized she had friends earning significant pay pursuing television in Los Angeles. At this point, the Ma Ingalls actress hit up auditions in hopes of finding work. In that way, she would be able to save money and “go back to school.”

Fortunately, in pursuing television auditions, she found her way to her pivotal role in “Little House on the Prairie.”

Now, decades after her debut on the series, we couldn’t imagine anyone else fulfilling the virtuous character’s persona.

Historic Drama ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was Actually Filmed on California Set

“Little House on the Prairie” fans have grown to love the historic drama for its heartwarming narratives and genuine characters. However, despite the authenticity of the plot, the hit series was filmed far from where the stories take place.

“Little House on the Prairie” initially began as a book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. The collection of novels is based on her growth to adulthood in the American Midwest during the late 19th century. Both the books and the television series of the same name take place in Plum Creek, near Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

However, the set for “Little House on the Prairie” could actually be found much farther West, in Simi Valley, California at the Big Sky Movie Ranch. Summer days there often reached the high 80s and 90s.

Filming the Walnut Grove-based stories then had to have been brutal for the cast. Actresses including Karen Grassle and Melissa Gilbert donned bonnets, long sleeves, heavy dresses, and then some. Alison Armgrim, who played the infamous Nelly Olsen on the series, even passed out on the first day of filming due to the heat.

Producers filmed “Little House on the Prairie” at other CA locations too, including Lake Sherwood and Sonora, and even went eastward toward Tuscon, Arizona.

That said, while breaking into the television industry is a feat in itself, filming “Little House on the Prairie” had to have proven just as difficult.

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