Little House on the Prairie is one of the most beloved classic TV shows of all time. The show, based on the book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, followed the Ingalls family in their home of Walnut Grove, Minnesota in the 19th century. Viewers were drawn to the TV series for the same reasons people loved the books. It was a charming depiction of small-town life in America at the turn of the century, and all of the characters really made you feel like you were part of their world, which makes sense, considering the books were based on Laura's actual life.
Though the series was set in Minnesota, Hollywood did most of the filming in California, but it doesn't take anything away from the story. After nine seasons on NBC, the show ended, but the family's story continued through three additional made for TV films.
Here's what the Little House on the Prairie cast members have been up to since the show wrapped back in 1983.
1. Melissa Gilbert -- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Melissa Gilbert beat out hundreds of little girls for the role of Laura on the show. Fun fact, her brother Jonathan Gilbert co-starred as Willie Oleson on the show with her. Gilbert really grew up before our eyes, going from a little tomboy to finding romance, and eventually getting married and having her own children.
Following her Little House days, Gilbert has continued acting, appearing in a number of TV films as well as numerous TV shows, including Stand By Your Man, Sweet Justice, 7th Heaven, Nip/Tuck, and Secrets and Lies. She was also a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
2. Michael Landon -- Charles Ingalls
Bonanza actor Michael Landon immediately moved over to Little House after his western series was canceled. The beloved actor played "Pa" of the Ingalls family. He also directed the most episodes in the series.
Landon opted out of the ninth season of the show, appearing only as a guest star and moving to a writer/director/producer role behind the scenes. He went on to create and star in Father Murphy and Highway to Heaven. His daughter, Jennifer Landon, appeared in the final episode of Highway to Heaven and is now starring on Yellowstone. Landon passed away in 1991 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
3. Alison Arngrim -- Nellie Oleson
Nellie Oleson was a fictional character on the show, a sassy young girl whose parents ran the mercantile in Walnut Grove. She spends most of the series being the rival of young Laura, the complete opposite of her in many ways. Arngrim had actually auditioned for the roles of Mary and Laura initially but became known as the "bad girl" throughout the '70s for her portrayal of Nellie.
Arngrim went on to appear in a few feature films including The Last Place on Earth, Make the Yuletide Gay and Le deal. She also released an autobiography in 2010, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.
4. Dean Butler -- Almanzo Wilder
Who could forget the hunky Almanzo Wilder that ends up stealing Laura Ingalls heart? He showed up for the last four seasons of the show and stayed on for the TV movies as well.
Butler is best known for his roles as "Moondoggie" on The New Gidget and Buffy's dad, Hank Summers, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He also narrated the docuseries, The Little House Phenomenon.
5. Jason Bateman -- James Cooper Ingalls
Jason Bateman's first TV role ever was as the little orphan boy James Cooper who gets adopted by the Ingalls Family. He was on the show for a total of 21 episodes. Bateman has gone on to become a major star, best known for his starring role in the TV series Arrested Development and Ozark and numerous films like Horrible Bosses, Zootopia and Game Night. He's also become a respected director, directing numerous episodes for the TV shows he appears on.
6. Melissa Sue Anderson -- Mary Ingalls
Mary was the oldest child in the Ingalls household. She suffers an illness as a young teen that causes her to go blind. Anderson was an unknown actress when she booked the part. On the show, Mary becomes a teacher at a school for the blind and marries a blind teacher, Linwood Boomer. This wasn't the story of the real-life Mary but it definitely made for good television.
Following the show, Anderson appeared in numerous TV shows like The Equalizer, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, CHiPs and Murder, She Wrote. She released an autobiography inspired by her days as a child star, The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House. She still books the occasional role but has been largely focused on her life as a mom and wife to a TV writer up in Canada.
7. Karen Grassle- Caroline Ingalls
Grassle was completely unknown when she booked the role of the Ingalls Matriarch, Caroline Ingalls. In fact, it was the first TV gig of her acting career. Following the show, she moved to Santa Fe and founded the Resource Theater Company, where she served as artistic director. She later relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, and worked with the Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Outside of her theater career, Grassle has continued booking the occasional on-screen gig, including TV shows like Murder, She Wrote, and Hotel and feature film Wyatt Earp starring Kevin Costner.
8. Shannen Doherty -- Jenny Wilder
A young Shannen Doherty scored the role of Jenny, Almanzo and Laura's niece who they take in after Almanzo's brother dies. Jenny first shows up in the ninth season, Little House: A New Beginning, and the TV films.
Doherty went on to become a major star after her breakthrough role on the teen TV drama, Beverly Hills, 90210. She is also well known for starring in the supernatural show, Charmed.
9. Kyle Richards -- Alicia Sanderson Edwards
A young Kyle Richards played the adopted daughter of Grace and Isaiah Edwards. In the ultimate "where are they now" twist, Kyle is currently a cast member on the Bravo series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She has also continued acting over the years, appearing on numerous TV shows like Down to Earth, ER, Beverly Hills, 90210, 7th Heaven, and Days of Our Lives.
10. Katherine MacGregor -- Harriet Oleson
Harriet was the gossip queen wife of Nels Oleson, proprietor of the local store in Walnut Grove. She was also Nellie's mother. MacGregor remained on the series for all nine seasons.
MacGregor decided she preferred the theater, so Little House was her last on-screen appearance. She regularly performed in LA and taught children's theater before passing away in 2018.
11. Linwood Boomer -- Adam Kendall
Linwood Boomer played the role of the blind Adam Kendall, love interest and future husband of Mary Ingalls. Though he doesn't get along with Mary initially, they find love and happiness together.
Following his time on the show, Boomer wrote a little show inspired by his life growing up as a middle child. That would be the FOX sitcom Malcolm in the Middle starring Bryan Cranston. Here he is in the photo above with part of the cast when Cranston got his Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
12. Richard Bull- Nels Oleson
Nels and his wife Harriet were known for having a love/hate relationship, sometimes on display for shoppers at their store, Oleson's Mercantile. Nels was a staple character on the show, staying on all nine seasons and the post-show TV films.
Bull appeared on numerous shows after Little House, including Hill Street Blues, Highway to Heaven, Designing Women, ER, and Boss. Sadly he passed away from pneumonia in 2014.
This article was originally published on September 10, 2020.