• In 2024, “Little House on the Prairie,” one of America’s most beloved television shows, celebrated its golden anniversary.
  • The cast reunited in March for a nostalgic three-day festival in Simi Valley, California.
  • From Melissa Gilbert to Karen Grassle, fans were thrilled to reconnect with the stars.

Western drama series, “Little House on the Prairie” first hit the screens in March 1974. It initially aired as a movie for its pilot episode on NBC, running for nine seasons before it wrapped up in 1983. Since it ended, some of its cast members went years without seeing each other.

However, that changed during a reunion for its 50th anniversary in March 2024. Over a reported 18,000 people gathered for the show’s cast reunion and festival at a park in Simi Valley, California.

The location was closer to Big Sky Ranch where much of the show was filmed back in the day. While there, attendees toured a replica of Ingalls’ home, the Oleson’s Mercantile, and the one-room schoolhouse.

Most importantly, the fans had the chance to take photos with their favorite characters from the series. They expressed gratitude to them for making their childhoods memorable.

Many wanted to see the actress who played Laura, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle who portrayed Ma/Caroline Ingalls, and Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson.

While some of the cast had gathered at smaller reunions before, this was the first time that many of them were together at the three-day festival.

“Little House on the Prairie” was created by actor Michael Landon who also starred as the lead Charles Ingalls or “Pa.” The series is based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Landon, who also directed the series, sadly died in 1991 at age 54. Several other stars from the show have also passed away including Victor French (Mr. Edwards) in 1989, Richard Bull (Mr. Oleson) in 2014, and Katherine MacGregor (Mrs. Oleson) in 2018.

Some of the cast remembered Landon in a March 2024 joint interview. Arngrim said, “Technically, he was the TV girl dad.” Similarly, Gilbert called him “magnetic,” adding that he “drew me in but he also played with me right away.”

“Our relationship immediately became parental. But he treated us when he worked with us like contemporaries, not like kids,” Gilbert explained.

It has been 50 years since “Little House on the Prairie” became a much-beloved television series, and here is a glimpse of what the original cast members look like today.

Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Gilbert began her career in show business in the late 1960s and became iconic for her role as Laura Ingalls, the second oldest daughter of Charles. She played the role from the inception of the show until it ended.

While filming the drama series, the former child star also starred in several television films, including “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Miracle Worker.” She also appeared in several commercials and guest-starred on television.

Today, the television director is 60 years old and has encountered numerous health issues over the years. In November 2020, Gilbert underwent spinal surgery and shared a clip of the procedure on her Instagram.

“Though I am only one week out it is clear that this surgery for me has been a life-altering experience. On this Thanksgiving day though I am isolated from all of my loved ones, I am so filled with gratitude,” she captioned her post.

Two years later in May 2022, Gilbert discussed aging in Hollywood. The producer, who started acting at age 9, revealed she started feeling pressure to remain young as she grew older.

“I grew up in an industry that values the outside considerably more than the inside, and I was caught in that wheel of trying to stay young,” said Gilbert.

To conform to the beauty standards, the Los Angeles native got Botox, fillers, and plastic surgery over the years. However, she later had a wake-up call after noticing she did not like the way she looked.

After getting married to Timothy Busfield in 2013, the couple relocated to Howell, Michigan where Gilbert began to embrace a more natural lifestyle. “I cut off all my hair and quit doing Botox and all the stuff,” Gilbert shared, and her husband fully supported her.

Karen Grassle (Caroline ‘Ma’ Ingalls)

Grassle is best known for portraying Caroline Ingalls, the mother of the novelist Laura. Her acting career started in theater. The veteran actress first showed interest in acting when she was a child and participated in several school plays.

She launched her professional acting career with summer performances at the Stanford Contemporary Workshop, and Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Grassle made her Broadway debut in 1968 and performed in the play “The Gingham Dog.” She later became one of several replacement actresses who were hired to perform in the play “Butterflies Are Free” in 1969.

She was a theatrical actress until she auditioned for the role of Caroline in “Little House on the Prairie.” During the show’s run, Grassle made a guest appearance in “Gunsmoke.” However, it was not until the late 1970s that she began appearing in various TV shows.

The California native made her film debut in the comedy-drama film “Harry’s War” in 1981. Grassle left “Little House on the Prairie” the following year and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Now 82, Grassle reflected on her more than five decades career including her role on “Little House on the Prairie,” in 2020. She said, “That show was an idealized version of family life. But I did the best I could.”

Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls)

Melissa Sue Anderson portrayed Mary Ingalls, the eldest child. Her early career included commercials and guest spots on television. After “Little House on the Prairie,” she continued acting in movies and TV films.

Anderson began her showbiz career after her dance teacher advised her parents to look for an agent for her. She later became a guest actress once in the weekly and family TV series “Never Too Young,” in 1973, and the theatrical movie “Shaft” that same year.

Amid the filming of “Little House on the Prairie” and after leaving the series, the Canadian American actress has guest-starred in several movies and made-for-TV films. Anderson has appeared in “The Brady Bunch,” and “The Love Boat.”

In 1990, she decided to settle down after marrying writer and television producer, Michael Sloan. The couple later had two children Piper and Griffin.

After becoming parents, Anderson and Sloan disappeared from the limelight. They left Hollywood and decided to settle in Montreal, Canada, and became Canadian citizens.

Following her appearance in “The Equalizer,” Anderson, 62, stopped acting while raising her children. She has focused on raising her family through the years but has made several public appearances.

Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson)

Alison Arngrim, who played the notorious Nellie Oleson, has continued her career in acting and stand-up comedy. A New York Times bestselling author, Arngrim is active in the entertainment industry.

Years after the long-running television show came to an end, Arngrim still continues to act in many movies, series, stage and has had several media appearances over the years.

She has appeared in “Life Interrupted,” “The Mephisto Box,” “Make the Yuletide Guy,” “Livin’ the Dream,” “For the Love of May” and “The Last Place On Earth.”

In addition to acting, the New York native is also a stand-up comedian. She has headlined in Laugh Factory, the Comedy Store, and the Improv in Los Angeles.

Since finding fame with her role in “Little House on the Prairie,” the actress and producer traded it all for a quiet life with her husband Robert Paul Schoonover. The couple crossed paths at the AIDS Project Los Angeles where Arngrim volunteered at the time.

They later tied the knot in 1993 after dating for a while. The Hollywood star, 62, became a stepmother to her husband’s daughter. The lovebirds have been married for more than 30 years.

The Greenbush Twins (Carrie Ingalls)

Sidney and Lindsay Greenbush shared the role of the youngest daughter, Carrie Ingalls. Their first acting break came in the 1973 television film “Sunshine,” where they shared the role of Jill Hayden.

The famous twins were later recommended by the movie’s producer when Landon was casting for his series “Little House on the Prairie.” After meeting Sidney and Lindsay, the “Bonanza” star signed them instantly.

However, after only eight seasons of the television series, the sister siblings decided to leave the show. Following their departure in 1982, Lindsay guest-starred in “Matt Houston” in 1983, while Sidney appeared on “Hillie and Hambone” in 1984.

But the work opportunities gradually dwindled and as such, the twins retired from acting. Aside from “Little House on the Prairie,” the two have also appeared in magazines and commercials.

After leaving Hollywood, Sidney and Lindsay, 53, have since forged different paths and lead separate lives. In 2015, Lindsay revealed that she got married in 2014.

As for her older sister Sidney, she was married to William “Rocky” Foster for nine years before he died by suicide. In 2022 it was reported that she was competing in women’s professional rodeo as well as training and consigning horses at her ranch in Little Rock, California.

Actresses Lindsay Greenbush and Sidney Greenbush pose for a portrait in circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Actresses Lindsay Greenbush and Sidney Greenbush pose for a portrait in circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

She also works in the IT industry for a residential builder as a sales system administrator. After losing her spouse, Sidney never remarried or had kids.

Meanwhile, Lindsay is a mother to her daughter Katelynn whom she welcomed in 1995. Like her sister Sidney, she is also a horse trainer in Simi Valley California. Lindsay also works for the Kid Gloves Boxing Foundation.

Sidney Greenbush and Lindsay Greenbush attend 2024 PanCAN PurpleStride. | Source: Getty Image

Sidney Greenbush and Lindsay Greenbush attend 2024 PanCAN PurpleStride. | Source: Getty Image

Over the years, she has attended “Little House on the Prairie” reunions. Lindsay and the cast reunited in 2014 but Sidney was absent then. While there, she remembered Landon, saying, “He was like Superman to us kids, and it’s still hard now to think of him not being here. He was the one person nothing could ever happen to.”

Dean Butler (Almanzo James Wilder)

Dean Butler’s portrayal of Almanzo James Wilder left a lasting impression on fans. Post “Little House on the Prairie,” he appeared in various television shows and theater productions.

The actor and producer later co-starred in the feature film “Desert Hearts.” Butler also appeared in the syndicated “The New Gidget,” and on “Buff the Vampire Slayer.” He has Broadway credits after starring in “Into the Woods” as Rapunzel’s Prince.

The Canadian native has also toured internationally as Tony in the “West Side Story” and has starred alongside Carol Burnett in the regional production “Company.”

Since 2011 Butler has been the senior producer of the Emmy nominated series on Golf Channel. He currently resides in LA and is married to actress Katherine Cannon.

In a March 2024 interview, the TV star reflected on his role in “Little House on the Prairie” and revealed how he wished he was more or less the same age as Gilbert while on the series.

When his character Almanzo met Laura (Gilbert) in season 6, he was 23 and she was 15. The characters shared their first kiss in the episode “Sweet Sixteen.”

“When I met Melissa in ‘Back to School,’ there was no sign of a woman there. She really was a little girl: bright, incredibly capable, spunky, vibrant, very extroverted,” said Butler. He admitted both he and Gilbert were anxious about the kiss because they did not know how it would play out. However, they made it work.

Butler, now 67, explained, “I’ve often said to Melissa, ‘I wish we could have been a little closer in age when we were doing this.'” Still, the scene became a special moment and it resonated with viewers.

Matthew Labyorteaux (Albert Quinn Ingalls)

Matthew Labyorteaux, who played Albert Quinn Ingalls, continues to cherish the memories of his time on the show. The film actor’s other famous role was in “Deadly Friend” in 1986 wherein he played Paul Conway.

Decades after starring in the popular series “Little House on the Prairie,” Labyorteaux is now a family man. He has been married to Leslie Labyorteaux since July 2020 and the couple has two children, who are actually Labyorteaux’s stepkids.

Patrick Labyorteaux and Matthew Laborteaux attend Michael Landon's Second Annual Celebrity Gala at Filmland Center on October 15, 1988 in Culver City, California. | Source: Getty Images

Patrick Labyorteaux and Matthew Laborteaux attend Michael Landon’s Second Annual Celebrity Gala at Filmland Center on October 15, 1988 in Culver City, California. | Source: Getty Images

In a 2021 interview, the voice actor revealed “Little House on the Prairie” was a fan-favorite show with memorable storylines that he watched with his kids.

The father of two also shared that his god-daughter and his friends’ children also watched the series at times. He admitted that sharing the show and the memories he made with others was fun.

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