Tags: karen grassle | Little House on the Prairie star

'Little House on Prairie' Star Admits She Was Broke

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Actress Karen Grassle played Caroline Ingalls on "Little House on the Praire." (littlehouseonthepraire.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 29 July 2020 11:34 AM

"Little House on the Prairie" star Karen Grassle has admitted that she was "flat broke" and nearly homeless before she got her big break on the hit Western historical drama series. The 78-year-old opened up about the tough time she experienced as a struggling actress in an interview with Closer Weekly.

"I had spent a year in England, working with a Shakespeare company and teaching, and came back to the States flat broke," recalled.

"I was asked to fly to LA to play the lead in an independent movie, but when I got to the airport, there was no ticket!” she continued. “I’d sublet my apartment and my boyfriend was [with me], so I wrote a bad check to get one. But when I got to LA, the movie fell through."

In a twist of fate, Grassle got a call from her agent asking her to try out for "Little House on the Prairie." Landing the role meant starring alongside Michael Landon.

"I was the only one at the interview," she explained. "They’d seen everyone in Hollywood who was right for the part! They were down to the wire because they cast everyone else. After I read my second scene with Mike, he leaped up like a jack-in-the-box and said, 'Bring her to wardrobe!' But NBC had to approve me, so he interviewed for executives on closed-circuit TV."

For a while, things were good on the set of the show, which aired from 1974 to 1983, but Grassle later found herself facing pay inequalities.

"[Michael was] prodigiously talented," she said. "A complicated character from a dysfunctional family who loved his crew. But when the show was in the top 10 and I said, 'Gee, it is time to renegotiate my contract,' Michael did not want to pay me. It was very difficult."

Grassle said she did not speak out publicly for fear that Landon would say things "that could have been detrimental." Despite the tension, the two reconciled years later.

"We had a friendly call about the good old days [before he died]."I was glad we had that healing," she said. Landon passed away in 1991 at age 54 from cancer.

After the show's run, Grassle went on to appear in various TV shows and toured the country performing in numerous plays. Today she is still keeping busy with projects, although the coronavirus pandemic has forced her to put many of her plans on the back burner.

"The musical that I was going to do this summer, 'A Little Night Music,' just got canceled, but it’s not a tragedy," she said. "In about a year my memoir will come out, and maybe there’ll be some untold stories in there!"

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"Little House on the Prairie" star Karen Grassle has admitted that she was "flat broke" and nearly homeless before she got her big break on the hit Western historical drama series.
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2020-34-29
Wednesday, 29 July 2020 11:34 AM
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