Little House On The Prairie Cast: Then & Now
It was one of the most beloved shows of its time, even beating the TV show The Railway Children on fan numbers! Winning three Emmys during its time on the air, the series still carries weight today; remembered by many as the most heartwarming show of their childhood.
Now, nearly 45 years since the show first aired, we take a look at the what the cast look like now…
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Melissa Gilbert) – Then
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Believe it or not, this child actor beat out a massive 500 other actors for the role of Laura Ingalls Wilder at only 9 years old!
Gilbert continued to act right up until 2017 – you might recognise her from Sweet Justice, Batman: The Animated Series (as the voice of BatGirl) and Safe Harbour.
In 2014 she boogied her way into Dancing With The Stars coming in fifth place!
However, she hasn’t managed to fully shake The House On The Prairie life as she toured in the production of Little House in 2009. She played the role of ‘Ma’, but found on that show that she had been living with a broken back! She had an operation to correct the vertebrae.
Taking a side step away from acting, she ran as the 2016 Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 8th congressional district but dropped out due to health issues.
Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder) – NOW
Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim) – THEN
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Nellie was Laura’s nemesis but c’mon, she was still extremely adorable.
A side step away from acting but remaining in the spotlight, Arngrim became a stand-up comedian. She hasn’t starred in anything since 2016 but you might recognise her from the comedy TV shows Life Interrupted and C.P.R. Her stage works include “The Vagina Monologs”, “Sirena: Queen of the Tango”, “Dear Brutus” and “The Wool Gatherer. “
She is also an author! She wrote the New York Times Best Selling book Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.
When she’s not performing, she’s takes an active role in volunteering and raising awareness for causes including safer sex workshops, child abuse and raising money for people living with HIV.
Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) – NOW
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James Cooper Ingalls (Jason Bateman) – THEN
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Who knew that Jason Bateman was a cast member of Little House on the Prairie? His first big role was actually as James! For those of you who can’t remember, James and his sister Cassandra are orphans who are adopted by the Ingalls family in season seven of the show.
So what has Jason been up to post life on Little House?
Now, he is most well-known for his role as Michael Bluth in the series Arrested Development and in 2005, he won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series.
Bateman has also starred in a fair few films such as Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief and The Gift. Him, his wife Amanda Anka (yes, the daughter of Paul Anka) and his two children all live in Los Angeles. He has gone on to direct shows as well including The Family Fang and Ozark.
Jason Bateman (James Cooper Ingalls) – NOW
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) November 2, 2018
Mary Ingalls (Melissa Sue Anderson) – THEN
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Before she landed the role of Mary, Melissa Sue had already had roles in Bewitched and The Brady Brunch.
She was just 11 when she got the role of Mary. Mary had a pretty hard time of things; she went blind at just 15 but still handled it with such elegance.
After being part of the Little House on the Prairie cast, she went on to star both in film and on TV. You’ll probably recognise her from The Equalizer, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Murder, She Wrote.
Like many of the actors, Anderson detailed her experience of the show in an autobiography entitled The Way I See It – A Look Back at My Life on Little House.
In 1979, Anderson won an Emmy for Which Mother is Mine? In 1999, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Her latest role was in 2018, in the movie The Con Is On.
Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) – NOW
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Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) – THEN
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Charles Ingalls was father of the year, every year in the audiences’ eyes. Very much in love with his wife, they brought up their large family in Kansas and were the pinnacle of family values.
In 1982, Little House On The Prairie was adapted and instead became Little House: A New Beginning which focussed on the Wilder family and the Walnut Grove Community. Despite not starring in the show himself, Landon remained the show’s executive producer, director and writer.
He then went on to star in another successful series Highway to Heaven. Yet again, he was the executive producer, director and writer as well as an actor, duh!
He married three times and fathered nine children – some of which were adopted.
Landon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 1991 and sadly died a few months later.
Michael Landon (Charles Ingalls) – 1990
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Caroline Ingalls (Karen Grassle) – THEN
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Grassle had been in a few plays and acted a few minor roles but her debut in Little House On The Prairie cast was what shot her into the limelight. She won the role of Laura; the mom who took absolutely no nonsense.
In life after Little House, she packed up and moved to New Mexico where she opened Santa Fe’s Resource Theater Company. In returning to California, Grassle starred in Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp (1994).
Her last acting credit was in 2017 for playing Lillian in Lasso and as of yet, it is unsure whether she plans to continue in the near future. However, she does continue to perform in productions in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto – she even won a prize for her performance in ‘Cabaret’ at the San Francisco playhouse!
Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls) – NOW
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Carrie Ingalls (Sidney And Lindsay Greenbush) – THEN
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After Sidney and Lindsay shared the role of Jill Hayden in Sunshine, they were recommended for the role of the youngest daughter in Little House On The Prairie. When the pilot premiered in 1974, it was an instant hit and the twins were billed as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush.
As Carrie was so popular, fans obviously wanted to see more of her; their wish came true in the episode The Godsister where they both appear, as Carrie creates an imaginary friend.
The twins decided to call it quits after eight seasons of playing Carrie, after which they struggled to find a role that was suitable for them. Not being able to bag any auditions for even guest stars appearances, the twins retired from acting and continued with their high school studies and graduated in 1988.
Lindsay And Sidney Greenbush (Carrie Ingalls)- NOW
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Harriet Oleson (Katherine MacGregor) – THEN
Image Source/ People
We all remember her. Miss Arrogant from Little House on the Prairie cast. Not to mention gossipy, gobby and greedy. We might complain about her, but every show needs one!
If you wondered why she failed to appear in the last episode, she was on a pilgrimage in India! She was in recovery from alcoholism and converted to Hinduism because of it. The pilgrimage was part of her spiritual awakening.
After the show ended, MacGregor withdrew from the big screen, instead trying her hand at local theatre. She decided to dedicate herself to the Hindu religion and to becoming an acting teacher before she finally retired in the early 2000s.
In 2014, we saw her in an in-depth interview about her life and career.
She was married to fellow actor Bert Remsen, before marrying Edward G. Kaye-Martin – she had no children. Unfortunately, MacGregor passed away on November 13, 2018 at 93 years old.
Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson) – NOW
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Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler) – THEN
Image Source/ Little House On The Prairie
Tall, blonde and dashing, this hunk was Laura’s love interest from the Little House on the Prairie cast. At the time, Melissa revealed that she was actually pretty unsure about the man who would become her husband but the two actually stayed friends long after the end of the show.
Now, 62 years old, Butler has been successful on stage playing leading roles in plays such as Into The Woods and West Side Story. Like others, he has also stayed true to the show, filming behind-the-scenes and extra footage for DVDs.
Butler is married to actress Katherine Cannon after meeting during an audition; they now live in Los Angeles together. Butler’s last acting credit was in 2008 for the feature film Chemical Wedding. Since then, he has been producing the TV series Feherty.
Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder) – NOW
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Jenny Wilder (Shannen Doherty) – THEN
Image Source/ Good Housekeeping
Just 11 years old when on the show, Shannen played Jenny Wilder in season nine.
After the end of Little House On The Prairie, Doherty went on to have a very successful career, playing Brenda Walsh on 90210 and Prue Halliwell in Charmed. She was definitely a nineties sensation, but her career extends long beyond that.
Doherty has featured in numerous films including Suite 7, Back in the Day and Bethany. In 2018, she played the role of Dr. Destiny in the TV series Heathers and has two upcoming films; one completed and one in post production.
In 2001, the actress was convicted of drunk driving and was sentenced to either 10 days in jail or 20 days work-release duty and three years; probation with a fine of $1,500.
In 2002, Doherty married Rick Salomon but annulled the union just nine months later! 2011 – she married photographer Kurt Iswarienko.
In 2015 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a single mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiotherapy to help shrink the tumour. Then in 2017, she announced that she was in remission.