Little House On The Prairie: Then & Now
Little House on the Prairie is one of those shows that you at least heard about it, even if you haven’t seen it. This western drama set in Minnesota was one of the most popular and beloved shows for years.
The show initially aired on NBC, and fans had more than 200 episodes to enjoy this show. Today, everyone is still talking about this show, and the time has come to introduce the younger generation to these beloved characters and their off-screen personas. Now, read on to see who these characters were and where they are today.
25. Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls
Mama Ingalls was such a beloved character that many claim Ingalls was so popular because Karen gave her heart into this role. When Karen landed this role, many thought that her career was going places.
After the first scene, you might think that she has been acting her whole life; however, the role of Mama Ingalls was her first role. To producers of the show, she was an absolute gem. Here is how she looks today.
24. Karen Grassle Now
Once the show ended, Karen continued acting. She appeared in a few TV shows and even a few movies. She also appeared alongside Kevin Costner in his 1994 Western Wyatt Earp.
Karen also reprised her role as Ma Ingalls in the TV movie Little House: The Last Farewell. It was the last of three Little House movies. Since the turn of the millennium, Karen explores her love of theater and even has been endorsed as Premier Bathrooms’ face.
23. Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls
Before she took the role of Mary Ingalls, Melissa was already known in the acting world. At the age of 12, she has already appeared in Bewitched and The Brady Bunch!
Still, her role on the Little House on the Prairie turned her into a real star. She appeared in a total of 163 episodes. During the show, she also worked on the side, and landed roles on The Love Boat and The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour.
22. Melissa Sue Anderson Now
When the show ended, Melissa was 20 years old, and big things were in front of her. She even landed a first movie role, a horror film called Happy Birthday to Me. So far, Melissa had over 57 roles.
Melissa also has an enormous love for the publishing world. So, she has also become a published author. In 2010, the now 54-year-old released her autobiography, entitled “The Way I See It”. The book talks about her early life and career, especially about her experience as a child on Little House. Coming up: 90’s kids adore this actress!
21. Shannen Doherty as Jenny Wilder
Shannen Doherty was a real teen idol during the 1990s, with her role as Brands on a teenage show Beverly Hills 90210. Little is known by younger generations that this star starter her career as a free-spirited child, Jenny Wilder, in a Little House.
Shannen was only 11 when she took the role of young Jenny. She was active on TV before this show, but this show boosts her career. Scannen portrayed Jenny in three TV movies. Michael Landon also helped her career a lot, mostly by helping her win the role after seeing her appearance on Father Murphy.
20. Shannen Doherty Now
Her role as Brenda on Beverly Hills 90210 cement her as a teen icon. She also ruled the TV world in the late ’90s, with her appearance in fantasy-drama series Charmed.
Recently, Doherty made headlines for her diagnosis and battle with breast cancer. She is a spokesperson for the illness and has been talking openly about her fight. She also appeared in Beverly Hills 90210. Sadly, the show was canceled after only one season. Coming up: see the cast reunite!
19. Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson
The role of Nellie Oleson made Alison famous. The role put her in the spotlight, and Nellie became a huge part of the show. She was so popular that producers had to return her for the ninth and final season once she left in season seven.
Alison had one credit to her name pre-Little House, and that was in the 1974 feature film Throw Out the Anchor! She also appeared on The Love Boat as well as Fantasy Island.
18. Alison Arngrim Now
Once the show ended, Alison continued to act sporadically. Eventually, he transitioned into the arena of stand-up comedy. She also recorded a comedy album titled “Heeere’s Amy.”
She is also passionate about philanthropy. She dedicated her time and energy to several charitable causes. She is a survivor of abuse from her childhood, and ever since she gains her strength, she is trying to help others who went through similar situations. She is great friends with her Little House co-star Melissa Gilbert.
17. Dean Butler as Almanzo Wilder
In the very first scene, Dean Butler stole the hearts of many. He portrayed Laura’s handsome future husband, Almanzo Wilder. For Butler, this was a significant role, while for fans, it was great to see a charming and nice boy.
Dean played the character for 65 episodes from seasons six through nine. He also had an appearance on The Love Boat while on the show. While working on a Little House, Butler had many appearances during his stay on Little House, including Fantasy Island and Here’s Boomer.
16. Dean Butler Now
After the Little House show, Dean appeared in numerous films and TV shows. He is best known to the younger audience as Hank Summers, father of Buffy, on smash-hit cult fantasy show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
He also has a soft heart for theater, which is why he appeared in several of Stephen Sondheim’s shows. You might recognize him from Into the Woods or West Side Story. Coming up: see the entire cast look at their reunion!
15. Jason Bateman as James Ingalls
Jason Bateman is a big star today, and next to Doherty, he is one of the few show’s stars who started his career in this show. Jason had a role in season seven and eight, playing the role of James Ingalls.
James Ingalls was an orphan who was adopted by the Ingalls family. This role was Jason’s first role as many. It was clear what he is destined for big things. In fact, he is the most successful actor to come out of the show.
14. Jason Bateman Now
Today, Jason Bateman is one of the most popular Hollywood actors. Most of us know him as the lead in comic masterpiece TV series Arrested Development. He also has several successful movies, including Horrible Bosses.
Jason is still very active in the film and TV industry. His most recent work includes Office Christmas Party and Central Intelligence. He also has a hit Netflix show, Ozark.
13. Kyle Richards as Alicia Edwards
Alicia Edwards appeared on the show in seasons two, three, six, and eight. 6-year-old Kyle Richards portrayed her. This wasn’t her first job, but it was one of her most important ones.
During her work on a Little House, Kyle had several other TV and film roles. She also appeared on Halloween. By the time the show was done, she was 13, and she already had over 20 credits to her name. By industry standards, she was a seasoned pro.
12. Kyle Richards Now
Kyle’s career went to different directions since the Little House ended. In later years, she tried different genres in both television and film. She appeared on ER, and Down to Earth.
She was also busy with her role in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Kyle also appeared as a contestant on The New Celebrity Apprentice, the show hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
11. Madeleine Stowe As Annie Crane
Yes, Madeleine Stowe actually had a role in the show. She appeared in the season seven episode “Portrait of Love”. This was at the beginning of her career and she had a long way to go. Still, this show was a nice reference for her.
She had a rather complex role, but yet her performance for a young actress was amazing. Her role was as a blind artist named Annie Crane who faced conflict when her birth mother wanted to make contact. Before this show, she appeared in Baretta, The Nativity, and The Amazing Spider-Man (the TV series).
10. Madeleine Stowe Now
After the show, Madeleine had a very successful career. Her guest appearance on Little House pushed her career enormously. She played the female lead in 1995 sci-fi noir film 12 Monkeys.
In recent years, she is more active on television shows than movies, as many mainstream actors have started to do. She first had a major role in the drama series Revenge, playing the role of Victoria Grayson.
9. Little House on the Prairie Cast Reunion
It’s hard when your TV show comes to an end. After all, you attach to characters, want to see them live forever, and once they are gone, your life isn’t the same. This is why we love reunions so much.
Many of the cast members from Little House went on to have amazing acting careers or to focus on non-acting related things. Yet, after a long break, the cast was happy to reunite from one more adventure, or three. On the major of reunion photos, you won’t be able to see Michael Landon. This famous actor plays Charles, and he, unfortunately, passed away in 1991 from cancer.
8. Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls
Michael Landon had a rich acting career. Little House maybe one of his most significant roles, but it definitely wasn’t the first one. Before this famous TV show, Landon was busy filing the hit western series Bonanza.
There were many rumors that London was difficult to work with, but no one confirmed it. Not only that he was a successful actor of the show, but he was also writing, producing, and directing Little House on the Prairie. Many claim that because of Michael, the show gained its iconic status.
7. Michael Landon Later
Sadly, Michael passed away in 1991 from pancreatic cancer at the young age of 54. He left an incredible legacy, including writing, producing, and directing work. Landon was voted one of TV Guide’s 50 Sexiest Stars of All Time.
In the year that he died, Michael appeared on Life magazine’s cover, talking about his life choices, lifestyle, battle with cancer, and career. He is interred in a family mausoleum in Culver City, California. His headstone says, “he seized life with joy. He gave to life generously. He leaves a legacy of love and laughter.”
6. Sean Penn as An Uncredited School Kid
Little House on the Prairie had a great share of notable guest stars for years. Many of them remained unknown, while others are some of the greatest movie actors ever. They may be unknown back then, but they are now more than well-known.
One of these unknown actors was Sean Penn, who made an appearance in episode 112 of the show, “The Voice of Tinker Jones.” It was Sean’s first role, and he got the part through his father, Leo Penn, who directed the episode. Interesting fact: since it wasn’t a very important role he wasn’t even credited for it.
5. Sean Penn Now
Since then, Sean has become one of the most famous actors in Hollywood, and one of the most popular actors globally. He is superb when it comes to acting, and he is great as a filmmaker. He is also known for being a political activist.
Sean has two Academy Awards under his belt for his roles in the films Mystic River and Milk. He also received two Oscar nominations for the films Sweet and Lowdown, and I am Sam.
4. Matthew Labyorteaux as Albert Ingalls
Matthew Labyorteaux is best known for his role as Albert Quinn Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. This role was a breakthrough for, at the time, a young actor.
Unlike other characters, young Albert’s character wasn’t based on a real-life character from the semi-autobiographical Little House on the Prairie books. The character of young Albert was created.
3. Matthew Labyorteaux Now
After Little House on the Prairie went off the air, Matthew continued being active. He appeared on many shows, including Highway to Heaven, directed by Landon. Matthew is also involved in voice-over roles, including some voice work on the Disney film Mulan.
He is also passionate about gaming. In 1928, he became the U.S. Pac-Man champion, with an astonishing score of 1,200,000. In 1992, together with his brother Matthew founded a charity organization that helps young people in need and is partnered with Los Angeles Youth Supportive Services.
2. Victor French as Isaiah Edwards
At the beginning of his career, Victor French was a stuntman. His father was also a stuntman for years. Victor appeared in numerous westerns, and appeared even 23 times on the television series Gunsmoke.
From 1974 to 1977, he appeared in a Little House, when he took a break to star as a police chief in the show Carter County. Once this show ended, he returned to little House from 1981-1984 and even directed some episodes.
1. Victor French In Later Years
Sadly, French passed away just a few short years after Little House on the Prairie ended. He was a lifelong smoker, and he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. After this terrible diagnosis, Frenchs lived for only two more months.
French and Landon were close, and they even worked together outside the Little House. French portrayed the character Mark Gordon on Highway to Heaven, which was written, produced, and directed by Landon. He was in more than 100 episodes of the show. This was his final role.