Karen Grassle Recalls How Guest Directors Were “Unable to Please” Michael Landon on “Little House on the Prairie”
On the set of Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon wore a lot of hats.
Landon, who created the series in 1974, also served as executive producer, frequent director and writer, and Charles Ingalls, the main character.
Karen Grassle was cast as Charles’s wife Caroline, and she quickly discovered how strict Landon was with the show.
When she was cast in Little House, Grassle came from a theater background, and she recalled Landon’s kindness in assisting her with her transition to television acting.
She told People, “When I came on the pilot, he was extremely kind and sensitive, and a good director, and he really gave me a chance to find my legs because [TV] was a new medium for me.”
“So I’d say it started off really, really well.”
Despite the fact that Little House had an ensemble cast and a large crew, Landon was clearly in charge from the start.
In her memoir, Bright Lights, Prairie Dust, Grassle said, “Mike was the man.”
“I’m a star, a producer, a director, and a writer.
And he was my ‘husband’, my acting partner.”
Karen Grassle of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ dubbed this section of the set the ‘Dark Place of the Prairie.’
When they began filming Little House, Grassle recalled working with a few other directors, but none of them lasted.
“[Landon] tried out guest directors, but while they were good and we liked them in the cast, they couldn’t please Mike,” she explained.
“He had such a clear vision for the show.”
A visiting director had a different – and unacceptable – vision than Landon, according to the Little House alum.
“For example, one director requested that I play Caroline as a shy ‘country woman,'” Grassle wrote.
“However, I thought she was more direct, and Mike was firm.”
That director was no longer with us.”
The historical drama depicted the ups and downs of the Ingalls family in late-nineteenth-century rural Minnesota.
Landon, according to Grassle, was always concerned with portraying material as accurately as possible, down to the last detail.
She explained, “I asked [makeup artist Allan]Whitey [Snyder] to age my hands for a specific outdoor harvesting sequence early on.”
“Mike came to a halt in front of us.
‘Do you have any idea how your face would look if your hands looked like that? This isn’t realism,’ he said.
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