Karen Grassle Reveals She Didn't Get Along With TV Husband Michael Landon Because He Mocked Her

Nov 25, 2021 by apost team

'Little House on the Prairie' is one show that always manages to take you back to the good old days. The show's star, Karen Grassle, turned 79 years old this year. Even at her current age, Karen is still as gorgeous and active as ever. She starred on the show alongside many other stars who made a name for themselves, one of whom included Michael Landon, who played the role of her on-screen husband. 

Michael Landon was an American actor, writer, director, and producer, best known for his television roles — primarily Little Joe on "Bonanza" and Charles Ingalls on "Little House On The Prairie." The actor was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and has appeared on the cover of TV Guide 22 times — a feat only accomplished previously by Lucille Ball. 

Despite his reputation as a wholesome father, due to his role on “Little House on the Prairie,” actresses who worked with Landon said he was very different in real life. There are certainly differences between actors and their portrayed characters, but according to Grassle, Landon was mean-spirited and sexist off-screen, and she did not get along with him in real life. 

Grassle released her memoir in November 2021, in which she went into detail about her life, which was far removed from the wholesome and family-friendly life she led as Ma in "Little House On the Priaire." Read on to know more about how Grassle's life had become once she came into the light of fame, and how her relationship with Landon was nothing like it was on set. 

Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson, Lindsay or Sidney Greenbush.(1970s), (Fotos International/Getty Images)

Grassle was born on February 25, 1942, in Berkeley, California and it now comes as no surprise that acting took a prominent place in Grassle's life even at an early age and through to adulthood. Grassle loved performing in school plays, according to Biography.com. She was also an active member of her local Baptist choir. In 1965, she graduated from college with a degree in Dramatic Art and English.

Grassle played the family matriarch in the iconic series "Little House on the Prairie" as Caroline Ingalls, also commonly referred to as “Ma.” The show featured the everyday challenges of raising a lovely family in a stressful environment. Caroline and her husband Charles, played by Landon, entertained viewers with their parenting skills, and most actors in the cast became household names due to the popularity of the series. As lovely as her life was on-screen, things were the exact opposite in her real life. 

Speaking to the New York Post, Grassle revealed that in the 60s and 70s, she was "a self-hating addict who tottered on the brink of despair." She also penned a memoir about her life titled  “Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma” in which she delved further into her life story. The book was released in November 2021, and in it, she revealed her thoughts about Landon, who was a major reason for the show's success. 

Grassle wrote that initially found him a demanding boss who was also an "amazing, multi-talented person." She added, "He was very highly strung, but he was carrying the weight of the show on his shoulders."  


Michael Landon (1974), (FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Getty Images)

However, when Grassle asked for a raise and was rejected, things began to sour between her and Landon according to the New York Post. Grasse was even angrier when Landon used the excuse that her earnings should correspond with those of the child actors. Landon also told Grassle that she was not as popular with the audience as she believed.

"I felt insulted as his co-star on a hit series," she said "I didn’t want to gouge anybody, but I expected a fair wage." This, unfortunately, did not turn out well for Grassle, and soon, she was left out of storylines and her scenes were cut. Moreover, Landon would also elicit cheap laughs from the crew by mocking her figure and facial expressions whenever they would review the footage.

Most shockingly, however, Landon began to use foul language and rude conduct, and his behavior would be supported by other on-set males. Grassle said that Landon’s outrageous comments made her want "to disappear." 

"It was almost like I was frozen," she added. "But, as a woman in the 1970s film industry, I was so accustomed to these putdowns, it never occurred to me to sharply rebuke him." She continued, "I kept up the professionalism. I’d be the good girl, play the part and hope." 

Unfortunately, by this time, Grassle was relying on alcohol to get through the days, and would even arrive on set after a heavy night of drinking feeling exhausted and nauseous. The actress would rely on the hair and makeup artists to disguise the side effects of her drinking, such as puffy and red eyes.

However, she was able to overcome her difficulties and by 1991, she even reconciled with Landon. "I am very grateful that we mended our fences," Grassle said. 

Michael Landon, Karen Grassle (1974), (FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Getty Images)

What do you think of Karen Grassle's revelations about her co-star Michael Landon? Tell us your thoughts, and be sure to pass this on to your friends as well. 

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